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Peter Falk's 'Columbo' returns us to a safer, saner America

Peter Falk's 'Columbo' returns us to a safer, saner America

Just one more thing ... didn't killing people used to land you in prison?

Remember when cops were allowed to stop crime?

For that matter, remember when the general consensus was we had enough homegrown murder without needing to outsource it to any old Roberto, Bahena, or Jose?

As America's ongoing third-worldization renders public space dangerous and unpleasant, there is one consolation for those driven indoors. Our home entertainment options are better than ever!

Not just the new garbage, either. Nowadays it's easy to watch old programs that would have been much harder, if not impossible, to find in the pre-digital age. One show that hits the spot when I'm nostalgic for those halcyon days of law and order is the all-time classic “Columbo.”

Unforgettably portrayed by Peter Falk, Columbo is a disheveled and deceptively unassuming LAPD homicide detective. Say what you will about the arrogant, high-society types Columbo pursues, they're a better class of killer than the impulse-driven savages currently doing the raping and the stabbing and the shooting.

Columbo's murderers (played by a who's who of '70s and '80s character actors, as well as luminaries like Dick Van Dyke, Johnny Cash, and William Shatner) kill for good, old-fashioned motivations like greed and spite. Each episode gives us the culprit's identity from the start; the pleasure comes from watching them squirm as they realize how badly they've underestimated the seemingly bumbling, uncouth detective with the shabby raincoat and cheap cigar. Hard to go wrong with any of the 69 episodes that were produced between 1968 and 2003, but if you're looking for a recommendation, 1971's “Murder by the Book” (directed by a young Steven Spielberg) is a good place to start.

"Columbo" currently streams for free on Tubi and can also be paid for on the usual platforms. Those with a penchant for physical media will be happy to know that Kino-Lorber's excellent Blu-ray set "Columbo: The 1970s: Seasons 1-7" is on sale at Walmart for $80.99.

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Matt Himes

Matt Himes

Managing Editor, Align

Matt Himes is the managing editor for Align. He has been a copywriter and marketing consultant for the entertainment industry for 20 years. A native of Allentown, Pennsylvania, he lives in Los Angeles with his wife and three children.
@matthimes →