This is a box set of perhaps the greatest ongoing detective of all time along with only the various Sherlocks, Poirot and Morse that match the quality and sheer enjoyment of this series.
Columbo was created by William Link and Richard Levinson and played wonderfully by Peter Falk who provided his own raincoat and chose the car and dog that appeared in some episodes.
Starting in 1968 with Perscription:Murder the first of two pilots, the second three years later. The fist season proper started the same year with a new upcoming director Steven Spielberg at the helm. It was an part of a strand of police programmes on NBC with McCloud and MacMillan and Wife and because of this there would only be ten or so episodes a series so the writers could keep the quality high and produce slightly longer and more in depth shows.
Columbo’s investigations mainly involved the rich and famous which the writers deliberately did to play the scruffy, dishevelled Columbo off against them, in fact writers said their ideal murderer would have been Noel Coward. Always coming out on top against his supposed betters Columbo has been described as the most Marxist detective on US television.
The other stand out reason to watch this is the cabire of the guest stars. Johnny Cash, Donald Pleasance, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Lawrence Harvey, Vea Miles, Ray Milland, Dick Van Dyke and many others played the murderer but perhaps best of all was Patrick McGoohan who appeared in four episodes. But Peter Falk is the outstanding actor and no body has made a part so much his own, Falk inhabits Columbo totally and plays him beautifully never losing that slight bewilderment and ramshackle nature of the detective and the disappointment when he catches the murderer who sometimes has almost become a friend. Columbo is basically a good, decent man who sometimes can’t quite understand why people resort to murder.
This box set has all the original NBC episodes which ran from 1971 to 1978 and the 1988 return on ABC which ran off and on to 2003. The original NBC series is the pinnacle of the series with the later run only occasionally reaching the heights of the seventies episodes.
The best detective series? After watching this I would probably say yes. It is beautifully acted, the plots are fantastically realised and it’s one of the most watchable TV series ever.
Might appeal to people who enjoyed:
The ITV Sherlock Holmes, Morse, Lewis, Endeavor. And fans of film stars from the 50s and 60s who appear throughout.