Columbo TV Show Overview
Columbo is an American crime fiction TV series, starring actor Peter Falk as Lieutenant Columbo, a homicide detective with the Los Angeles Police Department. The Columbo TV show helped make a different type of detective story format to become popular. In this television show, almost every season episode began by showing the commission of the actual crime and the true perpetrator. This approach eliminated the “whodunit” element, so viewers didn’t spend the entire show wondering who committed the crime. The show’s plot for the remainder of the show then focuses on how the perpetrator is identified, exposed and arrested.
The detective character first appeared in a 1960 episode of the television series The Chevy Mystery Show. This was adapted into a stage play, and a TV-movie based on the play was broadcast, in 1968, as the pilot for a series. The series began with a Sunday presentation of the “NBC Mystery Movie” rotation, which included McCloud, McMillan & Wife, and other whodunits.
The series spawned a similar format on Wednesday nights with fare such as The Snoop Sisters, Hec Ramsey, and Banacek. The Columbo television series aired regularly from 1971 to 1978 on the NBC television network, and then more infrequently on the ABC network beginning in 1989. The most recent episode was broadcast in 2003.
The character Columbo is a scruffy-looking cop who is often underestimated by his fellow officers, and by the murderer. Despite his appearance and superficial absentmindedness, he solves all of his cases and manages to come up with the evidence needed to get an indictment, thanks to his eye for detail and the meticulous and committed approach he brings to his work. As a truly great detective, he was a master at observing and evaluating a crime scene. He noticed important details and evidence that most other officers overlooked. Also, he was an expert at interviewing witnesses. He knew the right questions to ask and how to expertly extract the information he needed.
The character often rubbed his forehead, scratched his face and ran his hands through his hair as if he was stressed, but it was all part of his approach. His quirkiness managed to disarm most suspects. They often thought that there is no way this guy could figure out who did it. But then he starts asking questions. The right questions. And then the suspects start to squirm. He made the phrase “Just one more thing” popular. The character usually caught the subject off-guard by asking one final, difficult to answer question that ended up exposing the criminal in some way.
Columbo Television Series on DVD and Video
- The Complete First Season on DVD (1968 – 1971) – A five disc set that features all nine episodes from season one. The first season included two pilot episodes and seven regular episodes.
- The Complete Second Season on DVD (1972 – 193) – Includes all eight episodes from season 2 on a five-disc set. No extras.
- The Complete Third Season (1973 – 1974) – Includes a total of eight episodes.
- The Complete Fourth Season (1974 – 1975) – The DVD includes all six episodes.
- The Complete Fifth Season on DVD (1975 – 1976) – Includes six episodes.
- Season 6 (1976 – 1977) – Three episodes.
- Season 7 (1977 – 1978) – Five episodes.
- Season 8 (1989) – Four episodes
- Season 9 – (1989 – 1990) – Six episodes which played in 1989 and 1990.
- Season 10 – (1990 – 1993) – A total of fourteen episodes, including several specials.
The show also had several TV specials.
Several seasons used to be available for streaming via Netflix, but now they only offer the physical DVD option.