Long time readers of this blog know that I am a big fan of murder mysteries. Starting in the early 1970s, there was a TV crime procedural set in Los Angeles featuring Peter Falk as a homicide detective named Columbo. Wearing a crumpled beige raincoat, tie askew, a cigar, and a perpetual puzzled expression on his face, he became a cultural icon. I wrote a brief appreciation of the show and Falk when he died in 2011
What made this show distinctive from other crime shows is that there was no mystery at all. The opening sequence showed the murderer committing the crime and covering it up. The rest of the show was about how Columbo identified the murderer and pinned it on them. The stories always seemed to take place with the wealthiest of people in high society living in opulent houses and driving expensive cars, a stark contrast in class to the clearly blue collar Columbo who drove a beaten up and unwashed Peugeot convertible. We never saw his own home and although he frequently talked about his wife and other family members, they were never shown. I liked the fact that his personal life was not a part of the show. In some modern shows, the drama in the detectives’ personal lives sometimes overshadows the crime story. I also liked the fact that any violence was always off-screen and there was no blood and gore, no chases, or any of the other tropes of police shows.