Oh my goodness, I love Columbo.
I have been watching episodes from Netflix which aired on the Mystery Hour from the early 1970s and they are fantastic. Unlike most modern mystery programs, the first 20 minutes show the murder so we, the audience, know the identity of the murderer and therefore more than Columbo. We then get the pleasure of watching him slowly, slowly, and persistently circle in on the answers, picking up clues and putting them in the pockets of his rumpled trench coat. He is the anti-Poirot: thinking aloud, imprecise, and clean-shaven. And yet somehow, in the midst of his sloppiness and annoying questioning and self-depreciating asides, he brings calm and justice.
Peter Falk is fabulous. His Columbo is an enigma. Just how goofy is he really? Is his tangential babbling all a rouse to disarm the crooks? Or is he simultaneously bumbling and genius? Whichever he is, he is likable. The anecdotes about his wife ("My wife says I am the second best [detective]. She says there are 80 guys tied for first place.") round his person. The episodes are filled with little human moments like when our hero blushes when kissed by a hooker played by Valerie Harper. (I guess we know what happens in season 3 of Rhoda after her marriage to Joe dissolves.) (I never liked that Joe or his temper.)
And the guest stars! John Cassavetes (who directed Falk in some fantastic roles), Leonard Nimoy, Julie Newmar, Eddie Albert, Roddy McDowall (whose Lord Love a Duck is also on Netflix streaming), Anne Baxter and Edith Head (playing herself and choosing a new tie for the detective).
Dare I say it? I may enjoy Columbo more than either Castle or Bones.
God bless, Peter Falk. My favorite angel-seer über Berlin.
Who better to explain the simple joys of being alive? Compañero.
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