When you first saw him, Lt. Columbo, looked like a bum that just came off the street. He had a bumbling demeanor, was overly polite and seemed to chomp on the same short cigar on a daily basis. However, beneath all that comical exterior was probably the most dogged investigator on the Los Angeles Police Department. Columbo was often called on to investigate high profile murders that involved the rich and famous. The culprits were often amused by him and just as they thought they were going to get away with murder, Columbo would find a way trap them or find enough evidence to make them confess. Written by
Brian Washington <Sargebri@att.net>
The very first episode, (aside from the two pilots) "Murder by the Book", was directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Steven Bochco. Spielberg was never again involved with the series, through Bochco wrote several other episodes. See more »
Throughout the entire run of the series which went over 30 years with revivals and such the LAPD never assigned Peter Falk some gang-banger slaying or a domestic dispute where a drunk and jealous husband might have carved up an unfaithful wife. No, Lt. Columbo always got the high profile stuff with prominent people as victims and perpetrators. Before there was Brenda Lee Johnson there was another disarming detective who got the job done every time.
Peter Falk created one of the most indelible characters ever on the small screen with Columbo. The rumpled raincoat in an area where rain is a rarity, the bumbling manner, the general obsequiousness all played into an image he deliberately wanted to create for the perpetrator he was trying to trap. We all knew who did it every week and we all knew that there was an elaborate plan involved that the perpetrator put into operation. Often it called for an attempt to frame someone else.
It would all unravel bit by bit. Even if the murderer didn't confess outright you knew it was all over. The best criminal lawyers didn't let anyone wriggle out of a Columbo trap.
Columbo was a great working class hero, an Archie Bunker, or a Ralph Kramden who took the police civil service exam and worked his way up to the top of his profession. It was why he was so popular.
And it's why he will ever remain so.
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