Columbo

Columbo
ColumboTitle.jpg
Title card from the first episode of Season 1
GenreCrime drama
Detective fiction
Neo-noir
Created byRichard Levinson
William Link
StarringPeter Falk
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons10
No. of episodes69 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)Philip Saltzman[1]
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time73–98 minutes
Production company(s)Universal Television (1971–78, 1989–98, 2002–03)
Studios USA (1998–2002)
DistributorUniversal Television (original)
NBCUniversal Television Distribution (current)
Release
Original networkNBC (1968–1978)
ABC (1989–2003)
Picture formatFilm
Audio formatMonaural
Stereophonic sound
Original releaseFebruary 20, 1968 (1968-02-20) – January 30, 2003 (2003-01-30)

Columbo (/) is an American television series starring Peter Falk as Columbo, a homicide detective with the Los Angeles Police Department.[2][3]

The character and show, created by Richard Levinson and William Link, popularized the inverted detective story format, which begins by showing the commission of the crime and its perpetrator; the plot therefore usually has no "whodunit" element, and instead revolves around how a perpetrator known to the audience will finally be caught and exposed (often referred to as a "howcatchem").

Columbo is a shrewd but inelegant blue-collar homicide detective whose trademarks include his shambling manner, rumpled beige raincoat, cigar smoking, and generally disheveled appearance. His remit appears to cover wealthy and affluent sections of Los Angeles and suspects are affluent, often members of high society, who try to carefully cover their tracks. On several occasions he has been brought onto a case at the request of an influential relative. Suspects are usually initially dismissive of Columbo's circumstantial speech and apparent absentmindedness, but become increasingly unsettled as his pestering behavior and formidable eye for detail lead him to tease out incriminating evidence. Usually but not always, his relentless approach leads to self-incrimination or an outright confession but always to an arrest, albeit in one case of a man he knows to be innocent, who confesses to protect another individual who happens to be terminally ill in the expectation of the charges being dropped after the death of the culprit ("Forgotten Lady", Season 5). On two occasions, "Mind Over Mayhem" (Season 3) and "It's All in the Game" (Season 10), he resorts to framing the murderer's child to obtain a confession.

Episodes of Columbo are between 73 and 98 minutes long, and have been broadcast in 44 countries. In 1997, "Murder by the Book", directed by Steven Spielberg, was ranked No. 16 on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time[4] and in 1999, the magazine ranked Lt. Columbo No. 7 on its 50 Greatest TV Characters of All Time list.[5][6] In 2012, the program was chosen as the third-best cop or legal show on Best in TV: The Greatest TV Shows of Our Time.[7]

In 2013, TV Guide included it in its list of The 60 Greatest Dramas of All Time[8] and ranked it at #33 on its list of the 60 Best Series.[9] Also in 2013, the Writers Guild of America ranked it No. 57 in the list of 101 Best Written TV Series.[10]

Episodes

Richard Kiley and Peter Falk in Season 3 Episode 8 titled "A Friend in Deed" that aired on May 5, 1974
Season Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired Network
Pilots 2 February 20, 1968 (1968-02-20) March 1, 1971 (1971-03-01) NBC
1 7 September 15, 1971 (1971-09-15) February 9, 1972 (1972-02-09)
2 8 September 17, 1972 (1972-09-17) March 25, 1973 (1973-03-25)
3 8 September 23, 1973 (1973-09-23) May 5, 1974 (1974-05-05)
4 6 September 15, 1974 (1974-09-15) April 27, 1975 (1975-04-27)
5 6 September 14, 1975 (1975-09-14) May 2, 1976 (1976-05-02)
6 3 October 10, 1976 (1976-10-10) May 22, 1977 (1977-05-22)
7 5 November 21, 1977 (1977-11-21) May 13, 1978 (1978-05-13)
8 4 February 6, 1989 (1989-02-06) May 1, 1989 (1989-05-01) ABC
9 6 November 25, 1989 (1989-11-25) May 14, 1990 (1990-05-14)
10 + specials 14 December 9, 1990 (1990-12-09) January 30, 2003 (2003-01-30)

After two pilot episodes, the show originally aired on NBC from 1971 to 1978 as one of the rotating programs of The NBC Mystery Movie. Columbo then aired less regularly on ABC beginning in 1989 under the umbrella of The ABC Mystery Movie.[11] The last film was broadcast in 2003 as part of ABC Thursday Night at the Movies.[12]

In almost every episode the audience sees the crime unfold at the beginning and knows the identity of the culprit, typically an affluent member of society. Once Columbo enters the story, viewers watch him solve the case by sifting through the contradictions between the truth and the version presented to him by the killer(s). This style of mystery is sometimes referred to as a "howcatchem", in contrast to the traditional whodunit. In structural analysis terms, the majority of the narrative is therefore dénouement, a feature normally reserved for the very end of a story. Episodes tend to be driven by their characters, the audience observing the criminal's reactions to Columbo's increasingly intrusive presence. The explanation for the crime and its method having played out as part of the narrative, most of the stories simply end with the criminal's reaction at being found out.

In some cases, the killer's arrogance and dismissive attitude allow Columbo to manipulate his suspects into self-incrimination. While the details, and eventually the motivation(s), of the murderers' actions are shown to the viewer, Columbo's true thoughts and intentions are almost never revealed until close to the end of the episode. (Often he begins to whistle the tune "This Old Man" once he has all the loose ends of his case tied up.) Columbo generally maintains a friendly relationship with the murderer until the end. The point at which the detective first begins to suspect the murderer is generally not revealed, although it is often fairly early on. In some instances, such as Ruth Gordon's avenging elderly mystery writer in "Try and Catch Me", Janet Leigh's terminally ill and deluded actress in "Forgotten Lady", Donald Pleasence's elegant vintner in "Any Old Port in a Storm", and Johnny Cash's enserfed singer in "Swan Song", the killer is more sympathetic than the victim.[13]

Each case is generally concluded in a similar style, with Columbo dropping any pretense of uncertainty and sharing details of his conclusion of the killer's guilt. Following the killer's reaction, the episode generally ends with the killer confessing or quietly submitting to arrest. There are few attempts to deceive the viewer or provide a twist in the tale. One convoluted exception is "Last Salute to the Commodore", where Robert Vaughn is seen elaborately disposing of a body, but is proved later to have been covering for his alcoholic wife, whom he mistakenly thought to be the murderer.[14]

Other Languages
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Каломба (сэрыял)
български: Коломбо (сериал)
čeština: Columbo
dansk: Columbo
Deutsch: Columbo
español: Columbo
Esperanto: Columbo
euskara: Columbo
français: Columbo
한국어: 형사 콜롬보
hrvatski: Columbo
Кыргызча: Коломбо
magyar: Columbo
Nederlands: Columbo
norsk: Columbo
polski: Columbo
português: Columbo
română: Columbo
Simple English: Columbo
slovenčina: Columbo
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Columbo (TV serija)
suomi: Columbo
svenska: Columbo
Türkçe: Columbo