And don't you try and remake it, because it will fucking SUCK if you do
Columbo is a show that wouldn't fly these days
For a couple of things, it's not flashy, or seizure-inducingly fast-paced. There's no sex and there's a lot of dialogue. It would be a disappointingly strange and amusing anomaly to many people of the current generation, whatever generation this happens to be.
It's a distinct departure from modern day cop shows, which consist of zombie characters who are impossibly sexy and arrogantly cold, who robotically solve crimes of very mechanical passion. The cop characters are so brutal and cold that they radiate coldness, if that is even possible (yes it is, a piece of metal on a cold winter's day).
There's a lot of talking, and a lot of story telling - You already know who the murderer is so the whole show is focused on learning about the murderer's character, back story, and motivations. It makes them human, and it involves dialogue, and conversations, and very little physicality. Some of my favorite episodes involve torturous moral conundrums, consisting of characters who kill for very reasonable reasons. One of my favorite examples is of the sister who finally kills off her overbearing brother who doesn't allow her to have her own life. Everyone in her family is so awful to her, you're surprised she hasn't been committed to an asylum already. I found the murder to be perfectly justified and I get mad when she is finally arrested ( when this one comes up in reruns, I tend to avoid it because it is shockingly painful and too unbearably close to home). In another episode, a famous mystery writer exacts her own justice on her murdered niece's husband by locking him in her safe; Columbo reluctantly takes her in.
Crime and Punishment - The character of Columbo is based on the detective Porfiry from the novel "Crime and Punishment" by Dostoevsky. It's a more intellectual take on the common crime story - how does the detective solve the crime? How does he gather the evidence? What psychological games does he play, and just how damn good is he! Look at what he does!!!
It's an authentic trip back in time - It's a luxurious custom boat ride through the sixties/seventies of TV America-in-California. The clothes, the accents, the music, the technology. If you watch episodes of Columbo and you are of a younger generation, the both of you will discover the technology of these eras together because Columbo has no conception of the cutting edge technology of the time period either. He doesn't know what an answering machine is or barely what a tape recorder does but when he DOES finally reveal these mysteries, he reveals all the mysteries!!
(In one of my favorite episodes, Columbo bursts into a bar asking everyone if they have "change for a quarter"! Priceless!)
He doesn't even own a gun - In one episode, he pays someone to take his firearms test for him. He detests guns and never uses one, not in a single episode! How is this even possible in today's day and age, where even little babies are expected to wield one? There are no chases on foot, he doesn't run anywhere. He doesn't do car chases in his beat up ol' Renault (or whatever it is, it's supposed to French). Its quite shocking really, and would be appallingly disappointing to today's brand of audience.
There aren't any weird sexual tensions or liaisons between himself and any female antagonists, and if anything, he sorta becomes friends with a lot of the murderers, because they're not crazed, deranged psychopaths; for the most part, they are just plain normal people who needed to solve a problem and found an unfortunate one to go about it. This naturalness and reasonableness makes the show much more compelling and interesting than a fast-paced cop procedural where a hundred people are murdered by some crazed serial killer who has bizarre, unintelligible reasons for doing what he or she is doing.
I really started getting into actors because of this show. I started noticing some of the same people in different roles and I was amazed; wow, people can really act and I don't recognize the actual person from their different roles. There was some real talent on the show, and I'm not even talking about the big stars who made appearances, folks like Vincent Price and William Shatner (who by the way appears in a hilarious episode where he plays an actor who starts to really believe he is the detective he plays on TV and helps Columbo build the case of murder against himself!) Johnny Cash plays a murderer in one episode, who kills off his controlling, evil wife, and you just can't believe Johnny Cash is evil!!!! He just seemed so nice!!!
Well, I've watched almost every episode a million times and I love them, but as with anything, you get bored if you watch it too much. Going to take my break now, and hopefully will see a Columbo made-for-TV movie on some ditzy, antenna channel that I may not have seen before. Otherwise, it'll be a few years before I watch them again. You should take them up, though, if you haven't, and you want to.
Lauretta Mauretti LOVES TV that has gotten horrible with age.