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Just one more question
July 21, 2014 11:48 AM   Subscribe

Columbo - that much loved TV show - might be the latest candidate for a Hollywood remake - confirmed by its proposed star Mark Ruffalo on twitter. The Guardian argues that this is an inherently poor idea. Meanwhile Empire says "this is a project that every right-thinking human being would like to see happen".

Previously when Peter Falk was still with us, talk of a reboot with the then 80 year old.
posted by Chipeaux (221 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
The Columbo pilot, "Ransom for a Dead Man," was really on a par with Hitchcock's "Dial M for Murder," in my opinion.
posted by SPrintF at 11:51 AM on July 21 [3 favorites]


NO FOR THE LOVE OF GOD NOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Ahem. Sorry.

No, actually, I'm not.

NOOOOOOOOOOO!
posted by eriko at 11:51 AM on July 21 [12 favorites]


Is there anywhere good to stream Columbo online?
posted by Night_owl at 11:55 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


I am contractually obligated to link to this

The Case For Making Columbo The American Doctor Who

posted by The Whelk at 11:58 AM on July 21 [35 favorites]


The key question to my mind is: Will they retain the classic Columbo formula?

One other classic TV series that botched this was Mission: Impossible. They ditched the classic formula of receiving the mission, selecting the team, planning the mission, implementing the mission, and extracting the team - - and turned it into a generic action spy movie with a typical inside job plot.
posted by fairmettle at 11:58 AM on July 21 [14 favorites]


Oh, and one last thing...

Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 11:58 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Please, I beg you, let some remnant of my childhood remain unspoiled.
posted by jonmc at 11:58 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


And yet... and yet... Ruffalo could really nail this.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 12:00 PM on July 21 [70 favorites]


I always got this show mixed up with "Ironsides".
posted by thelonius at 12:04 PM on July 21


Please, everybody -- can't we all just agree that that this is an inherently poor idea that every right-thinking human being would like to see happen?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:05 PM on July 21 [25 favorites]


Please, I beg you, let some remnant of my childhood remain unspoiled.

If you want a picture of the future of popular culture, imagine Holllywood stamping on your childhood — forever.

 
posted by Herodios at 12:06 PM on July 21 [12 favorites]


Ruffalo could really nail this

RIGHT!? I'm so conflicted.
posted by elizardbits at 12:07 PM on July 21 [27 favorites]


I understand if folks want to rail at the heavens about remakes and all of that. Can't help you there.

But if you accept as a given that wildly successful premises/franchises are probably going to be remade, then you move on to the question of whether or not the people at work on this would do right by the source material. And anyone who has seen Ruffalo's charming/awkward, smart/dumb performance in You Can Count on Me can tell you he could nail the shit out of this role.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:07 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Mark Ruffalo totally could nail this. As a one-off or a series of 3 or less movies, this would be great. He can really play that Socratic detective well (see his performance in Now you See Me)

Add me to the list who would love to see this.
posted by NiteMayr at 12:07 PM on July 21


I'm not sure this is such a great idea. But then you bring up Mark Ruffalo and I realize how ridiculous I would have thought you were being three years ago if you'd told me Ruffalo would make me actually care about the Hulk.
posted by Naberius at 12:08 PM on July 21 [7 favorites]


The Guardian argues that this is an inherently poor idea. Meanwhile Empire says "this is a project that every right-thinking human being would like to see happen".

I see no contradiction between these statements.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:08 PM on July 21 [6 favorites]


Ruffalo is the perfect choice (what is his secret? He is always rumpled), but movies and TV shows (particularly old ones) are inherently different beasts, and the move to the big screen always changes the premise. A proper big screen Colombo would be talky and static, whereas modern audiences what to see explosions and stunning reveals - pretty much the opposite of what Columbo was about.
posted by AndrewStephens at 12:09 PM on July 21 [5 favorites]


Ask me about my gritty MacGyver reboot outline.
posted by codacorolla at 12:09 PM on July 21 [10 favorites]


I always got this show mixed up with "Ironsides".

How did...What the...I don't even...Whaaaa???
posted by Thorzdad at 12:10 PM on July 21 [5 favorites]


Sheepish, slovenly, seems-slow-but-underestimate-him-at-your-peril is Ruffalo's fucking wheelhouse, man.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:10 PM on July 21 [15 favorites]


It's not Ruffalo that we have to be concerned about, it's the TV execs and producers that inevitably fuck up the occasional diamond in the rough when it comes to remakes.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:13 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


This could work, but only if it's a stealth Columbo movie. Get an A+ List actor, promote it as a thriller in which the A+'er enacts revenge on someone who wronged him/her, but don't ever mention Columbo until Ruffalo shows up at the start of the second act.

People will go see George Clooney in "A Funny Way of Dying" and will be surprised when cool, suave George is brought down by shlubby Ruffalo.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 12:14 PM on July 21 [43 favorites]


How about we combine the Columbo remake with a Hulk solo film? HULK HAVE JUST ONE MORE THING...
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:15 PM on July 21 [60 favorites]


Ruffalo can't play Columbo. He has too many eyes.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:16 PM on July 21 [18 favorites]


Aw yeah, I need everybody's cooperation right about now
I'd like to find out whose favorite detective it is
Is it Mannix? (No!)
Barnaby Jones? (No!)
Someone say Columbo (Yeah!)


I have been waiting for a worthy Mark Ruffalo vehicle ever since Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind so I'm excited for this.
posted by bleep at 12:17 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Hollywood should go all out and make Columbo a woman of color go goes on a mission of bloody vengeance.
posted by Renoroc at 12:18 PM on July 21


AlonzoMosleyFBI: And yet... and yet... Ruffalo could really nail this.

From The Toast's case for making Colombo the American Doctor Who: Lt. Columbo has been described as “scruffy,” “rumpled,” “modest,” “schlumpy,” “little,” “inconsequential,” “anti-zeitgeist,” and “the lunchbox detective.”

To that, I'd add "old." Then again, with Doctor Who reboots, age doesn't matter. Am I being ageist by wanting to see another rumpled, plodding, old detective on TV?

But looking at photos of Ruffalo, I realize I've mentally cast him as younger then his 46 years of age. He can be properly scruffy and modest.

Bring on Hulk Colombo!
posted by filthy light thief at 12:18 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


Rufalo nailed on obviously.
But who to write and direct?

I think this is perfect for Abrams / Lindelof.
Get them onboard, then do the exact fucking opposite of what they say
posted by fullerine at 12:19 PM on July 21 [9 favorites]


modern audiences what to see explosions and stunning reveals


COLUMBO
And another thing...
Columbo draws the RPG launcher out from under his raincoat. A small half-grin flickers across his lips as he levels it, aiming towards the tanker truck.

posted by yoink at 12:20 PM on July 21 [11 favorites]


How about Jake Kasdan to direct? Did y'all see Zero Effect?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:23 PM on July 21 [9 favorites]


Actually, now that I mention Zero Effect can I also propose Bill Pullman as the official backup choice for the title role, should Ruffalo not work out?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:29 PM on July 21 [6 favorites]


Some of the older Columbos are streaming on Netflix. Sadly, not all of the episodes.

Hollywood likes a safe bet, so it's not surprising they would get to a popular tv series with some lingering pop culture impact and go for it. And Columbo at least had some movie-length episodes/movies ... but I give it 3 weeks before they add a car chase, then another for some gratuitous shooting, and then we are off to the races. The Mission: Impossible movies should give every fan pause. Nothing that was delightful from that world survived except the name; the studio went out of its way to crap on everything from that world that people remember with fondness.

Now Ruffalo is no Cruise - he doesn't have the power (or, I suspect, the desire) to push the studio into making this a focus-group-pleasing, follow-in-the-grooves, generic detective story summer blockbuster want-to-be. But he doesn't have the power to prevent it, either.

Hollywood's track record with tv show-to-movie remakes ranges from horrible to mediocre - they tend to want to leverage the name/nostalgia/familiarity and marry them to a modern, proven formula, and the formula comes first.
posted by julen at 12:29 PM on July 21 [3 favorites]


Oh gods, there are so many ways you could do something that captures the best parts of Columbo without actually calling it "Columbo." I mean, that's what Hollywood does. Shakespeare still writes most of Hollywood, and he's been dead for decades. Mark Ruffalo can play a rumpled detective who solves crimes that the audience has already seen the solution to, make a nod to how it was inspired by Columbo, name him "Frank Phillips" as a deliberate wink, and we're done.
posted by Etrigan at 12:30 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


How about Jake Kasdan to direct? Did y'all see Zero Effect?

Best movie of the '90s. Even made Pullman look good.
posted by No Robots at 12:31 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


I'd support this if Ruffalo would do this as the Hulk.


HULK HAVE JUST ONE MORE QUESTION FOR LAWRENCE WORTHINGTON THREE...

*sighs* What?

LAWRENCE SAYS LAST SOUND BEFORE YACHT SINK WAS BROADCAST FROM CRUISE SHIP...

Yes...aaaand?

WHY LAWRENCE LET YACHT SINK WITHOUT USING RADIO TO GET HELP?

Well I...I mean there was no way I could have...OK, I killed her! I killed her and use the yacht sinking to cover it up! And I'd do it again! I hated her! Hated her!

OK LAWRENCE, POLICEMEN TAKE YOU AWAY NOW. AND LAWRENCE?

What?

HULK SORRY...HULK ACCIDENTALLY TEAR OFF FRONT DOORKNOB AGAIN. BUT IT OK...OPENING DOORS NOT BE A PROBLEM FOR YOU FOR NEXT TEN TO TWENTY-FIVE YEARS.

posted by PlusDistance at 12:32 PM on July 21 [59 favorites]


Do it. Strong source material can stand up to remakes. It's not fair to the people who created and wrote the Columbo format to say that Peter Falk is the only one who can play it. You never EVER say that about a stage character. The very idea is ludicrous.

I don't like it when people are too precious about ideas and the way things were that they refuse to even entertain the idea that if an idea had merit before, it can still have merit in the future if done properly. Even if it fails, you still have the original.
posted by inturnaround at 12:33 PM on July 21 [6 favorites]


Ruffalo is too pretty, too well put together. Peter Falk was a homely dude - he could act a storm, but he was the very definition of a character actor. A handsome lead man would screw up the formula.

Columbo didn't have a personal life conflict or romantic lead possibilities. He had a loving wife he was in a committed relationship with, as symbolized by his car, of all things. Columbo was faithful, loyal, dedicated, and unshakable - he stuck by his old rust-box Peugot because he's proud of his relationship with it, he thinks it's exotic and special, and doesn't care what other people think.

I don't think Hollywood is ready for that kind of depiction of marriage in a heart-throb.

The reason Columbo doesn't have a complicated personal life is because it's a pure intellectual chess match between himself and the murderer. He can't be tempted, bribed or distracted. You can try to target his family, but he'll just come after you harder, confident he can get you before you'll get them. (And he does.)

So, they need someone who the fans won't mind isn't available for romance or a stand-in for their romantic ambitions. This means character actor, someone who can charm rather than beguile, because Columbo is charming.

I'm thinking Kate Miucci.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:35 PM on July 21 [11 favorites]


It's more the idea of a movie remake that bugs me. A 13 episode Netflix Original remake with Ruffalo? Yes, please.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 12:35 PM on July 21 [21 favorites]


"Columbo found his purest expression on TV, partly because the demands of the format chimed with his own dogged, week-in-week-out work ethic" - from the Guardian piece.

This would be a good argument, if it weren't for the inconvenient fact that Columbo never aired in a weekly slot. It is precisely the semi-occasional nature of Columbo that makes it work, not any imagined weekly grind. Which makes that piece seem like a hack job, despite the fact that it is not that far off being right.
posted by howfar at 12:38 PM on July 21 [3 favorites]


Now I wanna go watch You Can Count on Me like three times in a row. Ruffalo is so terrific in that. Laura Linney is, too.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:40 PM on July 21 [3 favorites]


Some of the older Columbos are streaming on Netflix. Sadly, not all of the episodes.

But do include, I believe, the ones guest starring Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner and at least two of Patrick McGoohan's guest star/director episodes.

And, despite my remake fatigue, I'd be on board for a limited series, especially with Ruffalo.
posted by audi alteram partem at 12:42 PM on July 21




I stopped trusting Empire with the Star Wars prequels, I don't see any reason to change my mind now.
posted by biffa at 12:42 PM on July 21


My brain tells me they will make an atrocious film which bears no relation to the original. But some tiny part of me insists it could be amazing.
posted by Segundus at 12:43 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Calling Kevin Pollak to the white courtesy phone.
posted by NedKoppel at 12:45 PM on July 21 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: an inherently poor idea that every right-thinking human being would like to see happen.
posted by randomkeystrike at 12:46 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Though actually I think I'd rather see a reboot of Perry Mason, the show which taught me all I know about the role of the defense attorney: to solve crimes by browbeating witnesses until one of them breaks down and confesses.
posted by Naberius at 12:46 PM on July 21 [3 favorites]


HULK SORRY...HULK ACCIDENTALLY TEAR OFF FRONT DOORKNOB AGAIN. BUT IT OK...OPENING DOORS NOT BE A PROBLEM FOR YOU FOR NEXT TEN TO TWENTY-FIVE YEARS.

Somehow this treatment sounds more like Cookie Monster to me, but I would definitely watch a Cookie Monster/Columbo mashup film.
posted by mykescipark at 12:47 PM on July 21 [7 favorites]


Or you could, y'know, just not go see the movie if it sucks. Nobody's forcing anyone at gunpoint to sully their childhood memories.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:49 PM on July 21


Sid Monster already auditioned for the part. Singing Tom Waits.
posted by NedKoppel at 12:50 PM on July 21


John
C.
Reilly.
posted by Iridic at 12:53 PM on July 21 [4 favorites]


I just envisioned a remake of Kojak starring the Rock and i feel good about it.
posted by elizardbits at 12:54 PM on July 21 [9 favorites]


Every motion had been exactly as it had been when he lit a cigar in Hench's apartment, and exactly as it always would be whenever he lit a cigar. He was that kind of man, and that made him dangerous. Not as dangerous as a brilliant man, but much more dangerous than a quick excitable one like Spangler.

- Philip Marlowe describing a detective (Breeze) in Raymond Chandler's The High Window.
posted by randomkeystrike at 12:56 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


David Fincher to direct.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:00 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Ask me about my gritty MacGyver reboot outline.

Please tell me about your gritty MacGyver reboot outline!
posted by PussKillian at 1:02 PM on July 21 [6 favorites]


It could be worse. They could try and remake I Love Lucy.
posted by bukvich at 1:05 PM on July 21


Huh, I'd totally forgotten that Columbo wasn't a series to itself but was just one of a rotating set of segments of The NBC Mystery Movie. For the first season it was on every third week alternating with McCloud and McMillan and Wife.
posted by octothorpe at 1:06 PM on July 21


This won't work on many levels. A superficial resemblance to the original does not a great reboot make.

And I am certain a new Hollywood version would completely miss the sly soaked-in-1970's-sensibility class-based subtext of the original - which is part of what made it so great: the precious, corrupt, wealthy, murderous but not-very-bright fools routinely fatally underestimate the working-class-accented, disheveled, hard-working, but brilliant detective -- who makes asses out of them (usually by preying on their elitist and snobbish biases) every time. Talk about class warfare.
posted by aught at 1:06 PM on July 21 [15 favorites]


I never liked Columbo. Nothing against Peter Falk, but the only thing that makes murder mysteries interesting to me is the mystery. This battle of wits business is a foreordained conclusion, every time. In other shows they might always find the killer, but if the mystery is twisty and complicated enough I can forget that it's a formula for an hour and get lost in the details. Not so Columbo.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:06 PM on July 21


If we're giving credit where credit is due, something like 20% of the shows on tv are remakes of I Love Lucy.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:06 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


For the first season it was on every third week alternating with McCloud and McMillan and Wife.

It sure was and now I am whistling the earwormy theme song in my head, thanks.
posted by aught at 1:07 PM on July 21


It could be worse. They could try and remake I Love Lucy.

Mark Ruffalo could totally nail that.
posted by mondo dentro at 1:10 PM on July 21 [10 favorites]


Okay, now who's going to play Father Dowling in that reboot?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:12 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


But with cell phones, how do they do the bit where the murderer's secretary interrupts with a phone call for Lt. Columbo?
posted by ckape at 1:13 PM on July 21


I would like to see a Columbo type inserted in other movie genres.

Like Columbo solving a murder mystery in the middle of a zombie outbreak or aliens are invading and Columbo is trying to solve a murder in that town.

I think it would work because, fuck aliens, Columbo does his job.
posted by BeReasonable at 1:13 PM on July 21 [11 favorites]


To be honest, for awhile I looked at The Mentalist as sort of a Colombo reboot. Obviously there were some different details, but a lot of similarities. Outdated fashion sense (I know Jane pulls it off, but who still wears 3 piece suits?), quirky French cars, a main character who doesn't always fit in. But mainly the way both Jane and Colombo dealt with arrogant murderers, pestering them to the point of losing their cool, all the while noticing little details that would ultimately solve the case. Then the big reveal at the end, where the guilty party thinks they are wasting their time...until it is too late. And if I remember correctly, neither one carries a gun.

But then The Mentalist got all wrapped up in the big Red John story arc instead of solving neat little 45-minute mysteries and I lost interest.
posted by TedW at 1:16 PM on July 21



They could try and remake I Love Lucy.

I was at the first one, but I was so stoned I don't even remember what bands were playing (apart from Spinal Tap).
 
posted by Herodios at 1:17 PM on July 21


Yes, honestly, I'd rather this be television, too...maybe the Sherlock model. 3 films every so often. If Cumberbatch can do it, so can Ruffalo. Do you hear me, Hollywood?
posted by inturnaround at 1:17 PM on July 21 [4 favorites]


John
C.
Reilly.
But only if he plays Columbo like Dr. Steve Brule.
posted by usonian at 1:17 PM on July 21 [4 favorites]


John C. Reilly can be Fletch.
posted by inturnaround at 1:20 PM on July 21


I kinda thought there was a quasi-Columbo remake when Vincent D'Onofrio played Det. Robert Goren on L&O:CI. Physically he seemed to be channelling Columbo (though intellectually he was playing Sherlock, right?).
posted by marylynn at 1:21 PM on July 21 [8 favorites]


I just envisioned a remake of Kojak starring the Rock and i feel good about it.

Sorry, but Vin Diesel is already on it. Somehow I doubt Ang Lee ultimately will be, though.
posted by argonauta at 1:22 PM on July 21


The Mentalist is definitely inspired by older shows, and one of them is almost certainly Columbo. But it's more of a family resemblance than an outright derivation. For one thing, The Mentalist doesn't tell you who did it right off the bat. And for another The Mentalist is (or was, I dunno) much more character based. In earlier seasons there was a lot going on with the other characters subplot-wise.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:24 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Movies are a dead medium.

For many reasons but mostly, because CGI. Consider this: the first bit of CGI crap that prematurely spurts onto a new Columbo movie will be its instant demise.

Besides no one wants to see Columbo for $40 after a dinner out - you watch Columbo in whatever version of ratty pajamas and slippers you prefer, late at night and with a critically salted bowl, or bag, of snacks in hand. AS THE FALK INTENDED.

I was at the first one, but I was so stoned I don't even remember what bands were playing (apart from Spinal Tap).
*golf clap*
posted by petebest at 1:25 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


I would like to see a Columbo type inserted in other movie genres.

Well, kinda-sorta, there's Falk's great cameo in Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire.
posted by aught at 1:28 PM on July 21 [5 favorites]


What about HBO doing it as a film-meets-miniseries, like "Band of Brothers" or the "To the Moon" one about the space race? Yeou'll get a properly luxe production, but it won't open-ended like a TV series that overstays its welcome (and eventually leaves the source material an enervated husk).
posted by wenestvedt at 1:28 PM on July 21


I'm late to the post and late to bring in my proposed Columbo. I'm pro-Ruffalo, I think he can do it, and I think he'll be great. But I've been arguing (to all my friends who have never seen an episode of Columbo) for a television Columbo reboot starring Paul F. Tompkins.

I also want PFT Columbo to team up with Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock thinks Columbo's an idiot, BUT COLUMBO CRACKS THE CASE!
posted by The Man from Lardfork at 1:29 PM on July 21 [3 favorites]


I think we should all look to the filmic flameout of the 1987 remake of "Dragnet" starring Dan Aykroyd, and back slowly away from this one.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:32 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Ok, Pullman as Columbo, Ruffalo as Rockford.
posted by evilDoug at 1:32 PM on July 21 [5 favorites]


Oh and Edward Norton as both Jake AND the Fat Man.
posted by evilDoug at 1:33 PM on July 21 [3 favorites]


Kanye and Kim Kardashian as McMillan and Wife. Directed by Michael Bay. Musical score by the Black Eyed Peas. With Danny DeVito as Max.
posted by prodigalsun at 1:37 PM on July 21 [3 favorites]


And Dabney Coleman reprises his role as "the man whose nose casts no shadow".

I believe Little Richard is still available, too.
 
posted by Herodios at 1:37 PM on July 21


I think we should all look to the filmic flameout of the 1987 remake of "Dragnet" starring Dan Aykroyd, and back slowly away from this one.


In what way should the fact that a thing that sounded like a terrible idea turned out to be terrible discourage enthusiasm for a thing that does sound like a good idea?

Dan Aykroyd is a freaking lunatic with horrible taste in material.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:39 PM on July 21


Whoever plays Columbo, surely we can agree on this one thing:

Benedict Cumberbatch plays nü-McGoohan.

It's 1-to-1, people.
posted by Iridic at 1:39 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


But with cell phones, how do they do the bit where the murderer's secretary interrupts with a phone call for Lt. Columbo?

"Aww, now, this is going to sound silly, but I put my phone down someplace this morning and wouldn't you know it? I haven't seen it since. I told Hal down at the precinct, that's Officer Guiterez, Hal, I told Hal to call me call me here if they needed to get in touch, just for this morning, you don't mind, do you?" (This is where the villain smirks and says "Of course not, Detective. My office/yacht/country club is your office/yacht/country club.")
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:40 PM on July 21 [8 favorites]


You know what 70s show they need to remake ?

Quincy, M.E.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:40 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


When Prescription Murder aired in 1968, Peter Falk was 41. So at 46 Ruffalo is probably old enough.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 1:42 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


You know what 70s show they need to remake ?

Quincy, M.E.


Do you think that would do enough to address our critical shortage of crime shows based around autopsies, ME's, and crime scene investigation?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:43 PM on July 21 [21 favorites]


Or he's got the phone, but he forgot to charge it. So the precinct called the country club because they knew he was going there.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:43 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


And yet... and yet... Ruffalo could really nail this.

[Goldblum]

Yeah, yeah, but your casting agents were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should.

[/Goldblum]
posted by Mooski at 1:45 PM on July 21 [12 favorites]


Yeah, yeah, but your casting agents were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should.

Hollywood... ah... always finds a way.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 1:46 PM on July 21 [12 favorites]


Ruffalo can't play Columbo. He has too many eyes.

That is what they said about Don Cheadle as Sammy Davis Jr. but that worked out okay.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:48 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


The only thing that would probably enrage me where a Columbo reboot is concerned would be if they remade "Swan Song," the one with Johnny Cash. Because Johnny Cash was more or less playing Johnny Cash and that's irreplaceable.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:51 PM on July 21 [5 favorites]


It's ok, they could get Reese Witherspoon for that one...
posted by evilDoug at 1:54 PM on July 21


I freakin' loved Quincy as a nine year old. There was something appealing about this guy who dealt with such disgusting stuff all day no one else could even watch him work without fainting. Nothing bothered him. (They didn't even show blood and guts on Quincy, but my imagination supplied the special effects.) There was also the cool concept that Quincy was the last resort for victims who were ignored by the system. If he didn't help find justice for the people that ended up on his table, nobody would.

Nowadays all the cop shows have autopsy scenes, and CSI has dead bodies in every episode, so that Rubicon has been crossed. Without Jack Klugman's personal appeal, a Quincy remake wouldn't have too much going for it that other shows don't already do.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:56 PM on July 21 [4 favorites]


While I'm torn on whether or not another actor could play Colombo well, I have serious doubts that Hollywood is capable of the tone or pacing of Colombo. Or mainstream audiences ... could they even handle a detective who refuses to carry a gun?
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 1:59 PM on July 21 [4 favorites]


I for one look forward to Colombo shambling after cross-fit parkour-using bad guys
posted by zippy at 2:00 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


How about a reboot of Legends? Oh wait, it hasn't premiered yet...
posted by datawrangler at 2:01 PM on July 21


Ruffalo probably could have some fun with this, but it seems superfluous.

Also, given the differences in TV storytelling 40 years ago and the way shows are written now, my concern is that a new version might either get way too explicit and detailed about Columbo's personal life, thereby removing some of the character's enigmatic qualities, or take the opposite tack and reduce him to a collection of easily conveyable quirks - i.e., dirty trenchcoat, stubble, beat-up car, odd physical postures, etc.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 2:06 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


But only if he plays Columbo like Dr. Steve Brule.

Crimes, y'dungus! No more crimes!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:10 PM on July 21 [3 favorites]


Next on the hit parade: a remake of Gilligan's Island!
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:10 PM on July 21


the 1 person who could truly nail this, has already nailed it: Castiel.
posted by dorian at 2:12 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


How about we combine the Columbo remake with a Hulk solo film? HULK HAVE JUST ONE MORE THING...

"That's my secret, Cap: I'm always angry rumpled."
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:14 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]




Zodiac was just on this weekend, and, man, if they could still have it in the 70s, Ruffalo all big 70s' ties and sideburns...

I think everyone around me would turn deaf from my high-pitched shrieking of delight.
posted by Katemonkey at 2:15 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


Columbo 2055:

Investigator Cyborg C-LM-B0 once again is on the case. Detective Jack Reacher, former Military Policeman after being brought back to active duty was all but destroyed by an IED in the Ukraine. He is put back together by modern technology, including a roving robotic eye and new name. due to a glitch in his programming, he always asks the most poignant questions 1 minute after the interview is concluded, which has resulted in a case solution rate of 99.8%.
posted by prodigalsun at 2:16 PM on July 21 [3 favorites]


I never liked Columbo. Nothing against Peter Falk, but the only thing that makes murder mysteries interesting to me is the mystery.

I'd think this was obvious, but... Columbo (in all but one or two stories) isn't a murder mystery. It's a murder certainty. I think it was someone involved with making it who called it, not a whodunnit, but a howcatchem.

The thing I find most endearing about Columbo, and there's a lot to like, is its implication:

Yes, beware the smart, beware the rich, beware the powerful. But above all, beware the honest, the person working his job for decades, not for a paycheck (because who'd do it for money?) but works it because he's good at it, enjoys it, and through practice has gotten better. He knows every trick in the book, can recognize them all, and what's more can use them.

Interestingly, in the pilot there's a shocking moment where Columbo goes nuts, shouting at a lady, it actually makes you dislike him a bit. Later on they toned that aspect of him down, I think, but it's still there, just better disguised.

Columbo is a good guy, but really, the devil himself could not be more diabolical. He seems nice, probably is nice, but no one, maybe not even himself, can say how much of it is genuine and how much is an act. He may be nice usually, but he is not your friend.
posted by JHarris at 2:19 PM on July 21 [18 favorites]


I agree with other posters that the problem isn't with Ruffalo, it's with the current zeitgeist that sanctifies wealth and the wealthy. The network that broadcasts a show that captures 1970s Columbo's cynicism towards and lack of intimidation by the rich is a brave network indeed.

I'd say that lasted well into the 1980s (til The Cosby Show or thereabouts, maybe?) because when you watch Miami Vice it's relentlessly anti-money and anti-corporation.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:20 PM on July 21 [5 favorites]


I guess my hesitation at this idea is not the actor, but the setting. What made Columbo good for me was the rumpled lived in feel of the thing, not just Peter Falk, but things look like real. People interacted with them, and it wasn't all clean and studio set-like. Even late Columbo kinda.. well sucked because it got a bit outside of it's period, and feel, and I hesitate to think what a modern Columbo setting would be anything but a slick plastic-coated affair.
posted by edgeways at 2:20 PM on July 21


I would totally watch an Arkady Renko TV series but that's even less likely to succeed.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:21 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


From the creators of "Lost" and "Battlestar Galactica" comes...

COLUMBO!

(Five years later the lead writer admits in an interview that they had no idea who the murderer was.
posted by happyroach at 2:23 PM on July 21 [7 favorites]


One more question, Mr. Locke...were you aware that you and your friends were all dead?
posted by prodigalsun at 2:24 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Even late Columbo kinda.. well sucked because it got a bit outside of it's period

Ah, "Columbo Cries Wolf" and its judicious use of stickers to replace things like headlines and digital readouts. Good times.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:24 PM on July 21


Oh, and for the longest time I was convinced that Columbo was never really married, all those "My wife says..." moments where just his equivalent of psyops.

(then they had that Mrs Columbo show.. about which the less said the better and I refuse to think of as really existing or as canon)
posted by edgeways at 2:25 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


It was Janeway's salad days in the holodeck.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:26 PM on July 21 [7 favorites]


I would definitely watch a Cookie Monster/Columbo mashup film

surely this was a sesame street sketch at least once, no?
posted by elizardbits at 2:27 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


Ah, "Columbo Cries Wolf, is that the one with the body in the wall wrapped in plastic? Because All I remember of that is the god all mighty awful 80's fashion and ... just ... wrongness.


It was Janeway's salad days in the holodeck.
Ha. I've a lot less problem with that then it being a serious show.
posted by edgeways at 2:28 PM on July 21


OMG Arkady Renko! Who could play him now?
posted by evilDoug at 2:28 PM on July 21


Now that I think about it, Timothy Hutton's character in Leverage had a bit of Columbo about him, and he wasn't even a detective, but rather the leader of a group of modern-day Robin-Hood-esque criminals. But he would do that vaguely confused thing that led the villians to dismiss him as nothing more than a slight bother, until it was too late and they realized how he had masterminded the whole con.

So if we're going to do rotating Columbos, I'd like to throw Timothy Hutton into the mix.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:29 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


is that the one with the body in the wall wrapped din plastic? Because All I remember of that is the god all mighty awful 80's fashion and ... just ... wrongness.

By wrongness, I assume you mean the murderer's smile which was always one step away from unhinging like a Del Toro monster.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:30 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


The Case For Making Columbo The American Doctor Who

This is great. Also...
I dare you to look me square in the eye and tell me you would not watch Kathy Bates in a rumpled old trenchcoat trying to keep track of her notes among the young and beautiful and murderous. Or Giancarlo Esposito. Or Jake Johnson from New Girl in about fifteen years. Rhea Perlman. Sam Rockwell, that beautiful weirdo. JOHN C. REILLY. Danny Pudi, in about eight years. An unshaven Stanley Tucci. Danny Trejo. Richard Kind. Margo Martindale. John Cho.
As soon as the list of actors started I thought to myself, "Danny Trejo". Then, boom. Great minds, etc. etc.
posted by brundlefly at 2:31 PM on July 21 [7 favorites]


[/Goldblum]

Yes! The Goldblum L&O:CI is basically what this would be.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:32 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


I always thought of Renko like Ed Asner, but he may be too old. Ooh, Danny Trejo! Thanks.
posted by evilDoug at 2:32 PM on July 21


I'd love to see Danny Trejo try it. Whether it worked or not, either way, I'd watch it.
posted by JHarris at 2:32 PM on July 21


On the one hand, I am against the idea of a reboot.

On the other hand, I can actually picture Ruffalo (Ruffalo Ruffalo Ruffalo see now I'm doing it too) pulling it off.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:33 PM on July 21


Rotating Columbos sounds like it should be a band name or maybe a cocktail name and definitely absolutely not a mythical urbandictionary sex act name.
posted by elizardbits at 2:34 PM on July 21 [3 favorites]


"Columbo don't text."
posted by brundlefly at 2:34 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


THE RUFFALO ROTATES
posted by The Whelk at 2:38 PM on July 21


So if we're going to do rotating Columbos, I'd like to throw Timothy Hutton into the mix.

I say no to this only because I want them to make more of those Nero Wolfe TV show episodes with Hutton as Archie.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:38 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


would definitely watch a Cookie Monster/Columbo mashup film

surely this was a sesame street sketch at least once, no?

Ha! Twice! (sorta)
posted by pjenks at 2:40 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


Peter Falk was a homely dude

I dunno. He was kinda funny looking in character, but some of that could be down to his acting and wardrobe. You look at this and this though and he could be a reasonably good looking guy too. And I figure you could probably make Ruffalo pretty goofy if you wanted to.
posted by Hoopo at 2:49 PM on July 21 [3 favorites]


No. Do Baretta first.
posted by NedKoppel at 2:59 PM on July 21


So if we're going to do rotating Columbos, I'd like to throw Timothy Hutton into the mix.

His father, Jim Hutton, played the title character on the TV series Ellery Queen, briefly in competition with Columbo in the 70's.
posted by fairmettle at 3:00 PM on July 21


I was watching an interview with Mark Ruffalo the other day and all I could think of was Peter Falk. That kind of makes me think that him playing Columbo is just too obvious.

I like the idea of using those different off-beat actors like Kathy Bates or Danny Pudi, which would be a lot more in keeping with the subversiveness of the original.
posted by maggiemaggie at 3:13 PM on July 21


Hopefully they can include one of my favorite bits (which I think was only done once in the original), where the killer called in some favors with city hall to get Columbo off the case. Then Columbo shows up again anyway, mentioning that someone tried to get him pulled off the case, but all it did was convince Columbo's boss that he was on the right track.
posted by ckape at 3:21 PM on July 21 [3 favorites]


But only if he plays Columbo like Dr. Steve Brule.

Crimes, y'dungus! No more crimes!


I think Steve Brule's natural role is not a Columbo, but the world weary and melk-addled DETETCIVE from CRIMER.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 3:33 PM on July 21 [7 favorites]


But only if he plays Columbo like Dr. Steve Brule.

One las' keschen...SWEET BERRY WINE?!?!
posted by prodigalsun at 3:45 PM on July 21 [3 favorites]


Calling Kevin Pollak to the white courtesy phone.

Yes! That sounds like a great little scheme to distract him and keep him as far away from the Columbo auditions as possible.
posted by Atom Eyes at 3:45 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


So if we're going to do rotating Columbos, I'd like to throw Timothy Hutton into the mix.

Crispin Glover, Margaret Cho, and Mr. T.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:54 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Peter Dinklage, Billy Bob Thornton, Aisha Tyler, Yeardley Smith.
posted by prodigalsun at 3:59 PM on July 21


OH GREAT now I want an A-Team remake with Timothy Hutton, Crispin Glover, Margaret CHo, and Mr T.
posted by elizardbits at 4:00 PM on July 21 [3 favorites]


Oh that Sesame Street bit was gooooooood. Thanks pjenks.

Okay, okay. *ahem*

John Turturro.


Yeh I said it, come at me bro
posted by petebest at 4:03 PM on July 21


Michael Shannon
Geena Davis
Lee Tergesen
posted by mr. digits at 4:22 PM on July 21


I have so many thoughts about this, it is almost sad.
1) The "Star Trek" reboot traumatized me too thoroughly for me to consider this.
2) There is no way to go back to the charm of 70s TV. As someone online pointed out about "The Rockford Files", everything seemed to happen in real time. I remember seeing "MacMillan and Wife" a few years ago and marveled at how the director would film a guy go out the door, walk down the hall, and then stand by another door, open it, and then we'd cut to the inside of the room to see him come in and shut the door.
3) The clothes and hair. Nothing can compare to a "Columbo" villain with sideburns, wide lapels and a huge necktie. Especially if it's Leonard Nimoy.
4) Reruns of "Columbo" used to run on Saturday afternoons, and I saw every one of them about 20 times. I'd lie on the couch, "Columbo" would come on, I'd fall asleep, and whenever I woke up, I still knew what was going on. It was a perfect kind of Saturday afternoon.
5) On the other hand, I thought it was a horrible idea when Robert Altman did a modern-times version of "The Long Goodbye". I was totally wrong: it was not only a great movie, but it coexisted well with the original novel. Plus, Mark Ruffalo sort of reminds me of Elliot Gould.
posted by acrasis at 4:26 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Oh, Timothy Hutton's Archie Goodwin. Man, those Nero Wolfe Mysteries were the best Wolfe adaptations. So so good.

I think it's a little easier to adapt a known story to a different genre (book or radio to screen, comic to radio, etc) than within a media type, I think because the viewer is willing to accept gaps and differences and adjust to the change in media more than if the remake happen within a media type.

I was initially thinking it might not be so bad if HBO did it, but I forgot about the requisite nudity, which they'd feel obliged to include.
posted by julen at 4:35 PM on July 21


I really would have liked to see that Rockford reboot (that it didn't make it through production I attribute to it trying to be true to character; that is, a scruffy PI living in a trailer about to get evicted off the lot) and I certainly welcome a Ruffalo Columbo on the big or little screen provided he stays true to the character.

He can affect different mannerisms and he doesn't need a glass eye, he just needs to appear and the villain think him a putz who can't possible comprehend the genius of his/her accomplishment until that last reveal, when Columbo starts to tap, tap, tap against the alibi until it shatters, gives the villain that piercing look as he details out exactly how they committed the crime and where they went wrong.

That's it. Get that with whatever play you make and you've got it. You don't even need the trenchcoat (The recent Sherlocks don't exactly match that old deerstalker fashion sense), and a notepad and pencil might be anachronistic. You just need to convince the murderer you're a fool so you can circle back and destroy them.

I wouldn't mind seeing this as a Netflix or Amazon series with 60-80 minute long episodes, but I'll take what I can get.
posted by linux at 4:38 PM on July 21


Watching Columbo while I clean the office!
posted by shothotbot at 4:43 PM on July 21


I also want PFT Columbo to team up with Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock thinks Columbo's an idiot, BUT COLUMBO CRACKS THE CASE!

Because Sherlock totally did it, and Columbo knew it was him THE WHOLE TIME.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 4:59 PM on July 21 [3 favorites]


I have to agree with others that there's a lot of great aspects of the show that it's almost impossible to imagine getting done today, at least not on a network. I remember scenes of Columbo eating chili at his favorite dive,or in some saloon, investigating- shots of LA's skid row, with supporting characters and extras who looked like they'd spent the morning drinking with Bukowski.... I don't know where you'd find anything like that now. But with a sufficient HBO-level budget or something, maybe.

But there's other stuff. I had the impression for a long time that Cassavettes had directed some episodes- not just because of Falk did some of his best work with him, but because some of the scenes just seemed to have so much of his sensibility. Like, a scene would go on for an actual minute or two extra so Columbo could interact with a random beat cop on the scene, in a way that didn't advance the plot in any way, but seemed like the only reason it could possibly be there was because it actually happened, if that makes any sense. It's hard to see any of that kind of pace, and lived-in 'naturalism', happening now in any medium.

There's also the class element. So much of the show hinges on 'rich' people (that is to say, millionaires) underestimating him, and therefore giving themselves away eventually.... whereas the real rich (billionaires, like) these days, have probably seen enough of the last 40 years of popular media, to just refuse to deal with him- or any other cop- at all. Because that's what lawyers and fixers and the rest of the staff is for .

That all said, I totally see the character as an american archetype, and would love to see interpretations of it from various actors, in various scenarios.

Let a thousand Columbos bloom!
posted by hap_hazard at 5:07 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


A remake of Mitchell with Nick Offerman.
posted by jason_steakums at 5:19 PM on July 21 [7 favorites]


How about Jake Kasdan to direct? Did y'all see Zero Effect?

Zero Effect is basically Columbo except the shlubby affectations are shlubby neuroses
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 5:27 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


Ahem.

*taps mic*

*feedback squeal*

Werner Herzog.

*walks away*
posted by brundlefly at 5:51 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


But do include, I believe, the ones guest starring Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner and at least two of Patrick McGoohan's guest star/director episodes.

And Martin Landau!

My husband walked in after the first few minutes of one of these and asked "Couldn't they get better actors to play these villains?" (He hadn't recognized Shatner.)
posted by Ralston McTodd at 5:52 PM on July 21


A remake of Mitchell with Nick Offerman.

With Wallace Shawn in the Martin Balsam role and Tim Tebow as the lousy butler (What? He has something better to do?)
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 6:00 PM on July 21


I submit Tom Hiddleston as another contender for Columbo. Think about it.
posted by arcticseal at 6:06 PM on July 21


Werner Herzog.

"Az we can zee here by ze bear's expression, it has just realized that the Detective Columbo is more aware that he zeems. Such is the way all nature responds to man's ingenuity - with abject disdain and revulsion."
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:07 PM on July 21 [6 favorites]


I almost cried:
"A few years prior to his death, Falk had expressed interest in returning to the role. In 2007 he claimed he had chosen a script for one last Columbo episode, "Columbo: Hear No Evil". The script was renamed "Columbo's Last Case". ABC declined the project. In response, producers for the series announced that they were attempting to shop the project to foreign production companies. However, Falk was diagnosed with dementia in late 2007. During a 2009 court trial over Falk's care, Dr Stephen Read stated that the actor's condition had deteriorated so badly that Falk could no longer remember playing a character named Columbo, nor could he identify who Columbo was. Falk died on June 23, 2011, aged 83."

From Wikipedia
posted by runcibleshaw at 6:10 PM on July 21 [5 favorites]


The original Peter Falk "Columbo" was one of my dearest, most fiercely loved childhood TV memories. "Columbo" was Watching Grownup TV With My Dad time. It was sacred.

And yet I am 100% on board for a remake with lovably scruffy Ruffalo in the role. Because Columbo is the cheerful, comforting island in a sea of troubled-but-cute asshole genius detectives. And I love troubled-but-cute asshole genius detectives! But right now they are EVERYWHERRRRE, and one can only hear the greatest fictional detective minds of the generation whine (over the BGM of tiny violins) about how humans are stupid vermin before one takes it personally.

Columbo is eminently comparable to the Doctor in how much he likes humanity. Columbo does not stay home alone on Saturday night to write a treatise on cigar ash and brood about how his only friend is a cannibal. Columbo loves people! He is the literal bloodhound of detectives: friendly, easygoing, rumpled but cuddly, a bit messy, prone to cheerful laziness, man's best friend. And once he's got your scent, he will hunt you down and end you, with relentless enthusiasm.

Columbo's enemies are the high-strung antisocial egotists who think, "It's okay that I kill people / eat people / kick puppies / don't pay my taxes / steal candy, and get away with it; it's a necessary part of my TORTURED GEEEEEENIUUUUS." To which Columbo goes with irritating casualness, "Nope! You're wrong, AND you're just an asshole." And few living actors can weaponize being aggressively laid-back like Mark Ruffalo.
posted by nicebookrack at 6:17 PM on July 21 [15 favorites]


You know what 70s show they need to remake ?

Quincy, M.E.


<In that husky, squeaky, one-vocal-cord voice>"Did they try the medicine drug?"</voice>
posted by wenestvedt at 6:19 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


To be honest, for awhile I looked at The Mentalist as sort of a Colombo reboot.

Actually, a lot of people saw it as a cop version of House.


You know what 70s show they need to remake ?

Quincy, M.E.


Carla Tortelli once scoffed, "If Quincy's so good, how come he's always gotta dig up the body?"
posted by pmurray63 at 6:21 PM on July 21


I would like to see a Columbo type inserted in other movie genres.

Like Columbo solving a murder mystery in the middle of a zombie outbreak or aliens are invading and Columbo is trying to solve a murder in that town.

I think it would work because, fuck aliens, Columbo does his job.


They did one set in WWII called Foyle's War. They split Columbo into two characters, though.
posted by rifflesby at 6:45 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Columbo is my all-time favorite tv show. If people from the future ever come to MetaFilter to sing its praises I will go into it with an open mind, but I cannot endorse this thing.


Fun Fact: From the "One day I'll make a huge Columbo post" files, here is a picture of Lt. Columbo's car in the opening scene of the pilot for The Rockford Files.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:04 PM on July 21 [7 favorites]


I just watched the first episode from reading some of the stuff in the FPP, and the commentary here. It was great! A satisfying little murder mystery with a lovable detective.
posted by codacorolla at 7:22 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


I fell in love with the series a little over a decade ago, watching reruns on cable, as I dimly had remembered it from childhood but had never paid much attention until many years later. Peter Falk really makes it an enduring classic. I suppose Ruffalo could possibly fit the role, but I'm conflicted. I'll withhold judgment until it comes out, but I'm not sure I really want to see another actor in that role, even if it's really good work. Such a drag getting old...
posted by krinklyfig at 7:56 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Banacek was my favorite of the NBC Mystery Movies, with McCloud second. They made too few of these and too many Columbos and MacMillan and Wifes.
posted by rfs at 8:05 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Ask me about my gritty MacGyver reboot outline.

I keep reloading this page but this hasn't happened yet.

You can't just say something like that if you can't deliver, that's really not OK.
posted by mhoye at 8:06 PM on July 21


I would rather they remake Bobby Goren...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 8:08 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Well, Columbo seems loveable, but it's strange. As I said above, and it takes some watching to realize this, we don't know if he's actually loveable. If it's a carefully constructed persona he uses to keep criminals off guard, or if he's just naturally disarming. The pilot actually hints at the latter, and once in a while Columbo shows hints of amazing cunning.

This is a man who will sometimes take great risks if he's sure the killer did it, if he knows how he'll react if given some prompt only if he did it, and will set up that situation (using his friendly demeanor and closeness with the suspect to aid in setting it up) and see if what he suspects will happen, happens. And sometimes that response involves violence, and every time it might, like if he outright gives the killer a gun on some pretense, it won't be loaded, or there will be one of those patrolmen standing right behind the door. Because Columbo knows.

Sometimes I wonder, really, if Columbo's methods would be admissible in court. Sometimes the stories seem to end in such a way that the only real reason the killer is walking away in cuffs is because he's admitting defeat. It might not be provable to the standards of a judge, but Columbo knows, shows how he knows, and really, that's what defeats the murderer.
posted by JHarris at 8:12 PM on July 21 [5 favorites]


I think I'd rather see a reboot of Perry Mason, the show which taught me all I know about the role of the defense attorney: to solve crimes by browbeating witnesses until one of them breaks down and confesses.

Happily, the spirit of Perry Mason lives on in the Ace Attorney videogame series! There's already a movie and TWO musicals.
posted by nicebookrack at 8:28 PM on July 21 [4 favorites]


Well, Columbo seems loveable, but it's strange. As I said above, and it takes some watching to realize this, we don't know if he's actually loveable. If it's a carefully constructed persona he uses to keep criminals off guard, or if he's just naturally disarming. The pilot actually hints at the latter, and once in a while Columbo shows hints of amazing cunning.

After reading the Columbo as American Doctor Who article, now it feels like this comment could be about late-series Sylvester McCoy and the Cartmel Masterplan.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:34 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


No fear of the plot being leaked for this.

Someone murders someone they are close to and believes they have successfully covered it up. Columbo is assigned the case.

He goes to the scene of the crime and questions a variety of people, including the murderer. Columbo quickly realizes that this person is indeed the guilty party (we, the audience, already know this of course). Throughout the film Columbo annoys the murderer and plays dumb, seemingly constantly losing his train of thought, which causes him to leave after a questioning session only to return right afterward with at least one other question. But all this questioning helps Columbo solidify the case, particularly in identifying troubling discrepancies in the testimony of the questioned suspect. Columbo frequently mentions his wife, other relatives, and his dog.

Eventually Columbo feels he's constructed enough of a case against the suspect and appears for yet another investigative questioning session where he corners the suspect and gets them to admit their guilt.
posted by juiceCake at 8:45 PM on July 21


Relevant movie still: rumpled Ruffalo in a trenchcoat. See? SEE?
posted by nicebookrack at 9:24 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


I am so glad this turned into a fancasting of 70s show remakes thread and also I have been pondering whose moustache is a worthy successor to Tom Selleck's for a new Magnum PI.
posted by elizardbits at 9:41 PM on July 21


and frankly i am not sure a luxurious enough one currently exists
posted by elizardbits at 9:41 PM on July 21


Yep juiceCake. But it's how these things happen that makes each Columbo story special.

The Wikipedia page notes that in the first movie, Prescription: Murder, Columbo doesn't even appear until halfway into the running time. One could make an argument that the show is really about the killer and his flaws. While often powerful and arrogant, the culprit is frequently admirable in a way, and is sometimes a good man (or woman) driven to a despicable act by circumstances, and this makes each episode of Columbo into a classical tragedy.

(I have so much to say about Columbo because I've been fascinated with it for years now, and once went on a binge through the series. I really need to rewatch them soon.)
posted by JHarris at 9:48 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


Gary Oldman's mustache as Commissioner Gordon was the only real contender, and sadly the forthcoming crime-procedural Gotham does not seem to have given Baby Gordon a mustache to match.
posted by nicebookrack at 9:49 PM on July 21


I think we should all look to the filmic flameout of the 1987 remake of "Dragnet" starring Dan Aykroyd, and back slowly away from this one.

On the other hand, the Dick Wolf/Ed O'Neill "Dragnet" reboot was better than it had any right to be, until ABC panicked over the horrible ratings and retooled it beyond recognition for a futile attempt at a second season.
posted by Lazlo Nibble at 10:12 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure the Dragnet reboot should be held up as an example. It's more like a warning not to let Dan Aykroyd anywhere near a re-adaption of anything, even his own classic work from the '70s.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:17 PM on July 21


Yeah, I was referring to the film reboot. The TV series reboot was not bad at first.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:19 PM on July 21


Hollywood should go all out and make Columbo a woman of color go goes on a mission of bloody vengeance.

You're a few letters off: that's actually Colombiana.
posted by snakeling at 1:16 AM on July 22


Do a Columbo! Do a Columbo!
posted by duffell at 3:32 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


Columbo frequently mentions his wife, other relatives, and his dog.

It's been a while since I watched an episode so I had forgotten about his dog. You have to admit, a Basset Hound is the perfect companion for Columbo; friendly, rumpled, unassuming, and able to track its prey with unflinching tenacity.
posted by TedW at 6:03 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]


As long as JJ Abrams nor Michael Bey are involved, I'm in.
As soon as Ruffelo's name was paired with 'Colombo' the project gained credibility. If someone more 'Hollywood' was playing Colombo it wouldn't work. Imagining George Cloony, Will Smith or Tom Cruise in the part, the understated, hidden even, sharpness of Colombo's mind wouldn't be a foil to his appearance and manner.
Also, the character has to have his rumpled rain coat - in a massive drought. It's perfect.
posted by Gadgetenvy at 10:07 AM on July 22


I just envisioned a remake of Kojak starring the Rock and i feel good about it.
posted by elizardbits at 12:54 PM on July 21
Hey elizardbits, they did a Kojak remake in 2005 staring Ving Rhames. I liked it, maybe you would, too. Sadly it only went 9 episodes.
Kojak 2005
posted by Gadgetenvy at 10:26 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


I just watched the first episode of the series while working out last night. I think I may end up rewatching most or all of Columbo. It's perfect for working out as it's mostly all conversation. Interesting: Steven Spielberg directed that one. And Steven Bocho wrote it.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:24 AM on July 22


On Columbo's pet Basset, this was mentioned in one of the classic 3rd season MST3K episodes, Tom Servo expounding on detective pets.

DirtyOldTown, I had forgotten that Spielberg directed some Columbos!

On the advice of other MeFites in Another Thread, I've picked up Lego City Undercover, or as I call it, Grand Theft Lego. It's hilarious and picked to the gills with detective show references. Early on in a cutscene a Lego Columbo tells the police chief "Oh and one more thing" and gets a doughnut thrown at him!
posted by JHarris at 12:45 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Well, Columbo seems loveable, but it's strange. As I said above, and it takes some watching to realize this, we don't know if he's actually loveable. If it's a carefully constructed persona he uses to keep criminals off guard, or if he's just naturally disarming. The pilot actually hints at the latter, and once in a while Columbo shows hints of amazing cunning.

I think from watching the early episodes he's both cunning and playing to the "dumb cop" prejudices of his target. Every now and then, you'll get a scene where he's talking to just other cops or someone completely unrelated to the case. Often in those scenes, you'll get the honestly analytical and methodical Columbo.

"Short Fuse," is an example of a case where the act becomes psychological torture. "I thought the murder weapon was a bomb hidden in the missing cigar box, but it must have been an accident because here is the cigar box from the wreck!" He then proceeds to go Buster Keaton for several minutes on what is presumably a bomb while trapped in a cable car. "A Stitch in Crime" is significant because a snarky, superior, eyebrowed Nimoy goads Columbo into dropping the act.

And there are scenes where he doesn't bother with the act, like threatening a private investigator with loss of license, or revealing that he knows exactly who and what a prostitute is hiding behind a pseudonym. And in other scenes, Columbo demonstrates empathy when he thinks an innocent person is being set up or taken advantage of.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:04 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Ok. A youtube suggestion from THAT clip is this episode called Sex and Married Detective.

1) it opens with a sex therapist saying that "everyone thinks their sexual fantasy is unique."

(oh, those pre-rule 34 days!)]

2) the sex therapist is Buffy's Dr. Maggie Walsh. I recognized her voice, but she's a sexy young thing in this episode.

And I'm only on minute 3.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:25 PM on July 22


Tom Waits as... Columbo
posted by edgeways at 8:14 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]




And in other scenes, Columbo demonstrates empathy when he thinks an innocent person is being set up or taken advantage of.

Occasionally he even shows empathy towards the murderer, stating that sometimes situations get out of hand and ordinary people resort to violence, as in "Swan Song" and "Mind over Mayhem" (which also featured Jessica Walter).
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 9:51 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure it was empathy, but he was very sweet with Ruth Gordon in "Try and Catch Me"
posted by Room 641-A at 10:21 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


I'm watching the first episode right now and having just watched Fargo a few weeks ago and already seeing Marge Gunderson everywhere I am feeling a strong desire for crossover fanfic right now.
posted by bleep at 11:06 PM on July 22 [2 favorites]


Oh, I'm in favor, bleep!
posted by JHarris at 2:16 AM on July 23


Ruffalumbo.

You're welcome.
posted by zippy at 11:59 AM on July 23 [2 favorites]


"If Quincy's so good, how come he's always gotta dig up the body?"
I recall from the book Dead Men Do Tell Tales, some medical examiners confronted one of the writers of the show at a convention or something, and got him to admit "Yeah, we kind of fudged that part to fit the story..." (about some certain technique that Quincy had used in a recent episode).

Also, I remember than Quincy's partner Sam seemed to end up doing most of the work. There should've been one all-Sam episode where Quincy was stuck at the DMV and Sam was the one out at the marina with the wide lapels, wining-and-dining Jo Ann Pflug.
posted by blueberry at 1:10 PM on July 23 [2 favorites]


The big question, then, is what will Columbo's rebooted car be?

It was 20 years from 1959 to 1979, so it should be something in the '93-95 model year. Convertible and quirky, elegant but not aspirationa, rare but not collectible, - cool but not cult. It gets a nod, but not longing stares. It should look even more charming with faded paint and stained canvas.

The candidates:

Toyota Celica convertible
Nissan 240SX convertible
Alpha Romeo Spider
Honda Civic Del Sol
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:08 PM on July 23


Mazda Miata?
posted by zippy at 5:42 PM on July 23


'93 Cadillac Allanté.
posted by Iridic at 6:11 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


1993 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme.
posted by codacorolla at 7:02 PM on July 23 [4 favorites]




1998 Fiat Multipla.
posted by yoink at 9:50 PM on July 23


rare but not collectible

I'm going to be a brat and say I don't think any of these suggestions are right. I don't think it needs to fit the same exact timeline, either. A beat-up Sunbeam Tiger (or Alpine) would have been good, but Maxwell Smart already snagged it.

I have no better to offer but I will sleep on it.

Alpha Romeo Spider

I'm sure it's not iconic to anyone under 35 or 40, but that Alpha will always be Benjamin Braddock's car to me. Otherwise a beat-up Spider would probably have gotten a favorite.

Yes, I'm taking this very, very seriously! It's Columbo!!

Great, now you all have me invested in Ruffalumbo.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:22 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


1967 Mazda Cosmo.
posted by juiceCake at 11:23 PM on July 23 [2 favorites]


Chopped, bagged, stanced, and murdered Isuzu I-Mark.

Diesel.
posted by zippy at 12:16 AM on July 24 [1 favorite]


Chopped, bagged, stanced, and murdered Isuzu I-Mark.

And that's no lie!
posted by Room 641-A at 6:33 AM on July 24


The 90's weren't a particularly good time for quirky little cars, so I think you have to go a little older; 1970 Datsun 2000, perhaps?
posted by TedW at 6:40 AM on July 24 [2 favorites]


A beat-up version of this VW Bug!
posted by Room 641-A at 8:05 AM on July 24


Geo Metro
posted by edgeways at 10:29 AM on July 24 [1 favorite]


rare but not collectible . . .

I'm going to be a brat . . .


How about a BRAT?
 
posted by Herodios at 10:38 AM on July 24 [2 favorites]


1993 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme.

Cutlass Ciera. Nowhere near quirky enough to replace Columbo's car, but on the other hand any beat up old Ciera still out on the streets today basically is the Columbo of cars.
posted by jason_steakums at 3:38 PM on July 24


He can be quirky without using the slightly old/odd car motiff. Give him like an '88 Crown Vic with donks and have him explain he's taking care of it for a nephew away in the military or something. You telling me you wouldn't grin if Columbo rolled up in this?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:41 PM on July 24


New Columbo only takes public transportation.
posted by jason_steakums at 3:51 PM on July 24


How about a BRAT?

How were these ever street-legal?! I was so excited the one time I had a chance to ride in the back. And then we got on the freeway. Yikes.
posted by Room 641-A at 3:56 PM on July 24 [1 favorite]


You telling me you wouldn't grin if Columbo rolled up in this?

Most certainly. Anyone rolling up in an abomination like that is just depressing.
posted by juiceCake at 8:14 AM on July 25


If we're going to time-warp the car, I'd vote for a beat-up diesel Mercedes or Volvo. An import expensive enough to be an uncomfortable stretch for a younger Columbo, but durable enough for him to keep it running as long as possible.

In my opinion, the murder-first format of Columbo has some advantages. American police mysteries often end up with clunky exposition where characters explain investigative procedures to peers who would already understand them. One way around this, is to set up a mentor/student relationship ala Holmes/Watson or the BBC standard, the DCI/DS dynamic.

By flipping the narrative, most of Columbo's reveals come in the form of the battle of wits between the killer and Columbo. Columbo weaponizes clues to force the killer to improvise, and weaponizes his dumb cop appearance to keep the killer talking. It's a tricky dance between "there's just one thing I don't understand" and "you may be right."
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:45 AM on July 25 [3 favorites]


Columbo vs Hannibal Lecter. Please someone make this happen.
posted by zippy at 5:29 PM on July 26 [5 favorites]


"Cheese puffs, Doctor."
"Cheese... puffs... Detective?"
"You're from Germany, they may not have them there, but they're these little crunchy things that are orange and gosh, they're delicious."
"I'm familiar with them, what of them?"
"How do you make them? Can you make gourmet ones? What would go into that? I really like cheese puffs."
"I am certain I wouldn't know, now if that's all..."
"Come on, you could show me in that fancy kitchen of yours. I bet you got a lot of nice equipment in there. I got the missus an Ever-Sharp knife block, and she loves it. You got an Ever-Sharp knife kit?"
"No, detective, my cutlery is bespoke and crafted to my specifications. No, I do not own an "Eversharp" knife."
"Really, now! You don't know how to make cheese puffs? Even with all of your custom knives?"
"Even with all of my custom knives. Is that all?"
"Just one more thing. We're going to need to see the orders for those knives, and talk to the guys who made 'em. I'm sure you can account for the whereabouts of all those fancy knives, Doctor? Just a technicality, you understand."
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:21 AM on July 27 [8 favorites]


That's pretty good S*H, mind you Columbo would drag it out for three more pages, and would meander down the path of his own culinary skill....


(Which is something that is always understated, just how good Columbo is at so many things, except driving and shooting, but often under that shamble he is pretty proficient at a hell of a lot)
posted by edgeways at 12:18 PM on July 27


Like when he professes to believe in palmistry and astrology in order to get a good look at someone's ring, to see if it matches the (unbeknownst to all but Columbo) imprint left on the murder victim's cheek.
posted by Room 641-A at 1:04 PM on July 27


I was sick this weekend and binged on Columbo when my family was at the beach. I went through this list of the five best Columbo episodes and they were pretty good in general - better than 90% of TV IMHO. But Etude in Black staring John Cassavetes (and maybe partially directed by him?) was really great.
posted by shothotbot at 1:16 PM on July 28


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