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Thoughts on Columbo?

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There's a question raised by comedians Frank Skinner and David Baddiel about Columbo that I don't think has ever been answered.

Skinner's question was:
"Peter Falk did indeed have a glass eye, but was his glass eye playing the role of a real eye? Or did Columbo have a glass eye as well?"
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Originally Posted by doubledenim
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I watch Columbo on MeTV a lot. I'm glad I have the whole series on DVD.

I suppose if Tubi TV stops showing Columbo, I'll probably buy the whole series. I already have seasons 1 and 3. Did you have a favorite? I liked a lot of them but I think I liked The Conspirators and Swan Song best. Columbo Goes to College was also a good one I liked. I could name a lot of them. I'll miss watching him on MeTV.



The only thing I've disliked about the show is that they always reveal the killer in the first 10 minutes, which I guess was normal for these kinds of TV shows.
No, exactly the opposite. It completely subverted the whodunit formula. Instead of having multiple guest stars and the viewer trying to guess along with the detective which one was the culprit we watch the crime committed and usually get the motive. The fun of the show is watching the cat and mouse between Columbo and the criminal who usually believes they have committed the perfect crime and therefore are cocky and/or underestimate the frumpy, quirky policeman who manages to ferret out the truth or find the one small mistake in the otherwise clever scheme.

But as others have said the show's formula, though different, was not the selling point. The attraction of the show is Falk's performance and the gallery of stars they got to be his overly confident foes.


I have always liked "Columbo" for those reasons. My all-time favorite is "The Rockford Files". That series had some clever writing and mysteries from time to time, but again the overwhelming strength of the show was not whodunit or a reliance on suspense it was that Garner's character was so incredibly appealing and his first instinct was self preservation and not heroics. That show had an equally appealing set of supporting characters as well (Rocky, Dennis Becker, Angel Martin, etc.). Watching them interact with each other was the hook, not who had the diamonds or why somebody was trying to kill this week's client or whatever.
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And for those in the U.S. who may have access to Peacock, either because you pay for it or it is part of your Comcast/Xfinity package, you can find "Columbo" on there as well. And "The Rockford Files", for that matter. They have lots of older series.



I suppose if Tubi TV stops showing Columbo, I'll probably buy the whole series. I already have seasons 1 and 3. Did you have a favorite? I liked a lot of them but I think I liked The Conspirators and Swan Song best. Columbo Goes to College was also a good one I liked. I could name a lot of them. I'll miss watching him on MeTV.

I think some of my favorite episodes have become favorites because they have guest stars that I love to watch. Some of my favorites are “A Stitch in Crime” with Leonard Nimoy, "Negative Reaction" with Dick Van Dyke, and "Short Fuse" with Roddy McDowall.
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I think some of my favorite episodes have become favorites because they have guest stars that I love to watch. Some of my favorites are “A Stitch in Crime” with Leonard Nimoy, "Negative Reaction" with Dick Van Dyke, and "Short Fuse" with Roddy McDowall.
The one with Johnny Cash has the most awesome ending. "Aren't you afraid, being up here alone with a killer ?"
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I love the one with Johnny Cash too...I also love the Dick Van Dyke one where he played a photographer...and anything Jack Cassidy or Robert Vaughn did on that show was appointment television.



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No, exactly the opposite. It completely subverted the whodunit formula. Instead of having multiple guest stars and the viewer trying to guess along with the detective which one was the culprit we watch the crime committed and usually get the motive. The fun of the show is watching the cat and mouse between Columbo and the criminal who usually believes they have committed the perfect crime and therefore are cocky and/or underestimate the frumpy, quirky policeman who manages to ferret out the truth or find the one small mistake in the otherwise clever scheme.
I understand the formula (which does seem to be common for similar crime shows of the time), but I still prefer the 'whodunit' formula, and since we agree that the essential secret sauce of the show is Falk himself, I'd be interested in seeing him in a more Poirot setting, where he has a number of suspects, all of whom are pompous and smug, have plenty of shady motives and duly underestimate him.


My all-time favorite is "The Rockford Files". That series had some clever writing and mysteries from time to time, but again the overwhelming strength of the show was not whodunit or a reliance on suspense it was that Garner's character was so incredibly appealing and his first instinct was self preservation and not heroics.
Another great example. I've found that a lot of these shows aren't actually very well written, and tend to survive based on the charisma of our lead. I guess Mannix must be the original to set this formula. But I would still like to see Garner in a well-written Rockford File rather than say that watching his character makes the writing irrelevant.
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