“Just one more thing” is a famous dialogue mouthed by one of America’s most popular television characters known as Columbo. Created by Richard Levinson and William Link, this murder mystery based TV series revolves around the adventures of an Los Angeles homicide detective Lieutenant Columbo played brilliantly by actor Peter Falk. This intriguing television serial is extremely “unique” because it follows a story format that is not used usually by the “whodunit” detective series such as Hercule Poirot or Sherlock Holmes. And so, here is presenting a combination of factors that make “Columbo” a great American detective series to remember.
a. The Use of a “Inverted Detective Story Format”by the creators of Columbo:
“Howcatchem” is an alternative term that aptly describe the “intriguing” inverted detective story format used in creating episodes for this television series titled “Columbo”. The style of story writing used in this iconic American detective series, basically reveals the identity of the criminal at the very beginning of every episode. Furthermore, this narrative style also allows the viewer to observe in detail the manner in which the detective (Columbo in this series) solves the crime thereby making it an engaging watch. In addition, this story format used for this TV series also helps the audience understand in depth the reason “why” the crime was committed. In other words, the storytelling used in this detective serial is the total “antithesis” to the more commonly used “whodunit” writing style, thus making it and extremely “interesting” watch for the audience.
b. The “Intriguing Themes” used by a variety writers of Columbo:
A large variety of themes ranging from crime within a political set up, medical fraternity, to the field of sports and entertainment has been used in Columbo by a variety of writers. So, as a result of an assortment of themes being used this detective series comprises of several interesting “antagonists” who use a variety of methods to kill, which makes it extremely interesting for the viewer. Among the many themes used the most “intriguing” being the use of “subliminal cuts” used in advertising world in the episode titled “Double Exposure”. A few other examples include a murder on a cruise ship in a episode titled “Trouble Waters”, an episode known as “Friend in deed” in which an accidental murder is used to cover up an intentional one.
c. The “Brilliant Execution” and “Music Composition” by directors and composers of Columbo episodes:
Enhancing the excellent writing of Columbo episodes is the fine direction by a number of directors including an episode directed by the great Steven Spielberg. The direction provided by most of the directors are “high quality” and manages to capture the essence of the “inverted detective story format” quite beautifully. Of note, is the season 1 episode “Murder By the Book” directed by Steven Spielberg who makes brilliant use of great camerawork to tell a gripping story revolving around the death of successful novelist. Other well directed episodes include “A Friend in Deed” by Ben Gazzara and “Murder Under The Glass” directed by Oscar award winner director Jonathan Demme. In addition, Falk himself has also directed an episode titled “Blueprint For Murder”.
Supporting the brilliant writing and directing of most episodes, is an appropriate haunting background score that adds to the “intrigue” factor, a key element in any detective series. The excellent use of a musical score especially during turning points in the plot, is what makes watching this TV series highly enjoyable, and credit for this must given to all the multiple composers that were used.
d. The “Magnificent” performance of Peter Falk as Columbo:
“Unforgettable” is a word that best describes the performance of actor Peter Falk as the eccentric homicide detective Lieutenant Columbo. Using an extremely “naturalistic” style of acting, Falk, brings to the life the idiosyncrasies of Lieutenant Columbo with a great deal of “realism” and “ease”. The manner in which he makes use of his body language to reveal his emotion while interrogating the perpetrator is also quite a delight to watch. Adding great depth to his character and performance are props such his crumpled jacket (apparently owned by Falk), a cigar, and a car i.e. the 1959 Peugeot 403 Cabriolet model. Apparently, it is said that this talented actor many a times while shooting on set improvised and added nuances so as to help his fellow actors to react accordingly, and thereby provoke a more real performance from them. Overall, this performance by Falk can truly be considered to be “one of greatest” not only in the American TV industry but also, with regards to the television industry the world over. And so, it is not surprising that he won an Emmy Award in 1975-76 and 1989-90 in the “Outstanding Lead Actor in the Drama Series” category.
With the “curtain being brought down” on this wonderful detective series way back in 2003, it would fair to say that this American detective TV series shall go down in the history “world television” as “one of the greatest” ever to have been broadcast on the small screen.
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