Release Date : 1971
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No. of episodes : 86
Columbo was a crime drama presented in a unique fashion that could be described as "turning Perry Mason on his head." There were no car cha... [+] more
Columbo was a crime drama presented in a unique fashion that could be described as "turning Perry Mason on his head." There were no car chases, no shootouts (Columbo was hardly ever seen brandishing his service revolver and complained and procrastinated about the required firearms training and test), no spy gizmos, no DNA testing, no lawyers, no urgent calls for back-up, and ultimately no recourse for the guest star murderer of the week.
Unlike most other murder mystery shows, the audience typically saw the ghastly deed committed at the beginning of the show. After the body is discovered, enter the apparently bumbling and dimwitted homicide detective, Lt. Columbo (Peter Falk) sartorially attired in his trademark rumpled, soiled raincoat
The charm of the show was watching Lt. Columbo slowly wear down the smug, arrogant killer as he slowly picked apart the case. The killer barely noticed the noose getting tightened around their neck ever so gently by someone they thought was a bumbling idiot.
Lt. Columbo was always showing up to share some new detail about the case or a vaguely related anecdote about his never-seen wife with the killer. The killer would then think he'd given Columbo the brush-off again when Columbo would invoke his secret weapon: He put his fingers on his forehead like he had a headache and utter his trademark line, "Oh, and just one more thing, if you don't mind....." The one more thing would inevitably be something that would throw the killer off balance. After about 4 or 5 of flase-exits in an episode, the killer would topple, by taking some rash action, or uttering something that he should have no business knowing unless he were the killer. Lt. Columbo may have acted like a bungling dimwit, but that was the chief component to his brilliance.
Columbo was aired on Sunday evenings during the NBC Sunday Mystery Movie in the fall of 1971. Columbo also had the distinction of having two pilot episodes. One aired in February of 1968 and the other three years later in March of 1971 before earning a regular slot in NBC's 1971 fall line-up. Mystery Movie was a 'wheel' (rotating stories and characters) showin the vein of The Name of the Game. It rotated with McCloud, MacMillan and Wife, McCoy, Hec Ramsey, Amy Prentiss, and Quincy, but unlike 'Name', there was never any cross-over or unifying element among the shows. Some episodes were 90 minutes, others were 120 minutes. Columbo left NBC in 1978, but reappeared on ABC in 1989 in a similar wheel show.
Columbo also begat a spin-off of sorts called Mrs. Columbo starring Kate Mulgrew, later of Star Trek Voyager fame.