|Just one more thing, right?!|
And we know it, the audience and the murderer are in on the scheme. Detective Columbo, our frazzled, forgetful detective, always has to catch up.
|Jack Cassidy and Peter Falk meet again|
Let's look at Columbo, friends. He hardly ever judges, rarely yells, shows no pretension, exhibits very little ego. He is calm, he is patient, but mostly, he is kind, even to the murderers he's pursuing, even when they're finally caught.
Columbo goes with the flow, doesn't fight against the current, and somehow, almost too easily, he gets his way by doing so.
Observe the episode "Negative Reaction" (I call these episodes though to be more accurate I should refer to them as tele-films, because each show serves as its own TV movie, but still). He tries to find a witness at a homeless shelter and is mistaken, because of his attire, as destitute himself. Though he tries to correct the sister, she is so aggressive that he can't get a word in, and, in response, he shrugs it off, takes the soup, and converses with the witness. When the sister finally figures out that he is a detective, she assumes he's undercover, and Columbo does nothing to change her mind.
Columbo often finds himself underestimated by the murderers he investigates, and he uses their own egos to lure them into a sense of calm, waiting for them to slip up.
It's almost odd, for me, to have more interest in Columbo for its social interactions than its criminal elements, in how the murderers treat Columbo and react to him as either an incompetent cop or as a annoying nuisance. I believe in the maxim: You know people by how they treat people. In Columbo, I don't learn the characters from their crime, from their desperation, not fully at least. I learn about them by how they perceive Columbo.
But what, my dear friends, do we learn from Columbo with how he lets himself be perceived? Is there something duplicitous in his nature? Something sinister in his kindness? Is there something cruel in tricking desperate criminals to feel at ease?
The great Peter Falk saw Columbo as a very average guy who just happens to be the greatest detective ever to live.
And I mostly side with that interpertation. He's working class through and through and he takes on the very rich and influential. Takes them down a peg, and more. Is it too much to view Columbo as a metaphor for class warfare? Or to suppose that he gets some satisfaction, being "average," at bringing down the very most powerful?
But by the character interactions alone, Columbo can be interperted in many different ways. I think that's what makes it interesting, though maybe not the reason I enjoy the show, not just, at least.
When it comes down to it, I think I love the show maybe for the same reason my mother loves the show and used to watch it with me during cool summer days, when episodes were played frequently at noon on A&E.
Columbo is just so damn nice.