Friday, January 24, 2014

My Hero--Columbo

While babying my itty bitty case of flu, I watched an inordinate amount of TV. Barbara Fradkin's recent post reinforced my opinion that too any TV shows and movies are over the top.

Ironically, too much sex and violence is boring. Is there anything more ho-hum than a show consisting mostly of car races? Ditto, steamy sex scenes that don't contribute a thing to the plot.

Because I didn't want to be grossed out, and waste my time on really stupid plots, I turned to old shows. I have a Roku viewer and am a Netflix subscriber, so I can pretty much watch about anything. I settled on old reruns of Columbo.

They were wonderful.  In 2012, the program was chosen as the third best cop or legal show on Best in TV: The Greatest TV Shows of Our Time.] In 2013 TV Guide included it in its list of The 60 Greatest Dramas of All Time. In 2013, Writers Guild of America ranked it No. 57 in the list of 101 Best Written TV Series. The plotting is masterful. There are no loose ends.

For the information of those who have never watched Columbo, the viewer knows who the villain is right from the beginning. He or she is usually extremely intelligent, usually wealthy, highly placed in their profession, definitely one of the "in" crowd. Or they would like to be wealthy, prominent, or thought of as extremely intelligent, and just a wee murder is all that stands in their way of a stunning inheritance or opportunity. They are so very, very smart that they believe no one can figure out how the murder took place or if there even was a murder.

In rambles the most unlikely homicide detective on TV. Columbo is disheveled, unclassy, poorly groomed, not well-spoken. By all appearances he is not capable of walking the dog, let alone solve a sophisticated murder. But he is! Behind his rambling speech and his annoying seeming harmless questions lies a razor sharp mind. He's funny, relentless, and brilliant. I don't think anyone but Peter Falk could have played this man. His trademark phrase "just one more thing" has become a classic

He's underestimated and discounted! He captures the universal secret belief that people don't really know how good we are. Certainly that is shared by beginning writers when editors and agents reject our submissions. And boy are they going to be sorry when we win the Nobel or Pulitzer or are at least acknowledged at the next high school reunion. They'll see. 

Columbo has a happy ending. There is no ambivalence in this show. The perpetrator is always ferreted out by Columbo and brought to justice. This is accomplished by old fashioned police work, not by modern day forensics. Violence is very minimal. The scripts are superb.

 Oh for the good old days.


Donis Casey said...

As Columbo knew, allowing people to underestimate you is actually a very powerful tool.

Charlotte Hinger said...

That's a good point. Unfortunately in my case their underestimation proves all too accurate.

Glad you are doing well. I'll be in Phoenix Feb 8th at PPP I'm appearing with Fred Ramsey

Irene Bennett Brown said...

Great idea, Charlotte, to watch Columbo.

Wish I could be in Phoenix for your appearance at PPP, and for the sunshine!

Charlotte Hinger said...

Irene, I watched an incredibly bad movie on Netflix. It was definitely suspenseful, action galore, but I can't understand why they don't finish these movies. At the end I knew the hero managed to rescue his wife, they hugged but there were enough loose ends to make a rope. They just stopped.