Opinion / Top 10 / Tribute

My wishlist to celebrate Columbo’s 50th anniversary

black-and-white-columbo

Although the origins of the Columbo character really date back to 1960’s Chevy Mystery Show outing Enough Rope, the date of 20 February 1968 is the true red-letter day for fans of the Lieutenant. This was the day Prescription: Murder first aired on NBC.

And the time-conscious fan can also do some simple sums and realise that the 50th anniversary of Columbo is just around the corner!

Social media was awash with tributes for the 50th anniversary of Star Trek this year, although die-hard fans criticised CBS and Paramount for not making more of the landmark. I say let’s not let Columbo‘s half-century pass by without a fanfare! Columbo remains one of the seminal TV shows ever created, with the Lieutenant still embedded in the world’s collective psyche.

“The 50th anniversary of Columbo is just around the corner!”

I’ve put together a wishlist of things I’d like to see happen to mark Columbo’s 50th anniversary. Most of these, admittedly, have next to no chance of ever happening but you never know… See what you think!

Columbo Google Doodle

Just about the whole world would know about it if if Google paid Columbo the ultimate tribute and created a special Columbo Google Doodle to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the show.

star-trek-googleWhile they earned ire from Star Trek fans for a lack of a doodle to mark its 50th birthday this year, they had actually done one in 2012 to coincide with the 46th anniversary of the first episode airing. As far as I’m aware there’s never been anything remotely Columbo-related on the Google landing page. Wouldn’t it be peachy to see that change!

If you’d like to see this happen, get onto Google about it! Email proposals@google.com to put in your request! Rest assured I will be. Repeatedly.

To see a selection of some of the best Google Doodles, click here.

ColumboCon

columbocon

I won’t be betting the house on this happening, but a Columbo Convention in 2018 would be a dream come true!

Although we’ve lost many of the show’s legendary stars, not least Peter Falk, there are plenty of high-profile individuals that could be called on to provide recollections, including Dick Van Dyke, George Hamilton, Robert Vaughan, Gretchen Corbett, Blythe Danner, Gena Rowlands and Jamie Lee Curtis.

“A Columbo Convention in 2018 would be a dream come true!”

Series co-creator William Link is still with us, too, and just imagine hearing William Shatner’s recollections of working with Peter Falk. They’d be worth the admission fee alone. There are also many others who got a break on the show, whose insights into working with Falk would be sensational.

I have a hundred agenda ideas already, and if anyone wants to take this idea and run with it, I’d be only too happy to consult! Will work for free admission, black coffee and chilli…

Columbo Film Festival

cassidy-cinemaSimilar to the above, but much easier to organise, I’d sign up for an all-day Columbo cinematic fest in a heartbeat.

Three-or-four choice episodes, interspersed by some commentary or panel discussions, would prove to be extremely engaging for Columbo afficionados and I reckon it’d work nicely in the right location.

I’ve already tried to make some tentative headway on just such an event here in Sydney, only to be cruelly rebuffed by the cinema in question, but I’m convinced this could work elsewhere. If you have the know-how, please holler!

Failing that, maybe Riley Greenleaf will let me borrow his private cinema?

Definitive Columbo soundtrack

ransom-vinylSome terrific composers were at their zenith during Columbo‘s early seasons, applying great creativity and innovation to the task. From Billy Goldenberg’s sweeping orchestral manoeuvres to Gil Melle’s fresh jazzaludes, the depth and variety is absolutely wondrous.

Several truly iconic Columbo themes exist and releasing them all as part of one collection would really make the heart sing. Goldenberg’s Ransom for a Dead Man soundtrack  (pictured) was released on vinyl in the 70s, and it’s possible to listen to medleys from various episodes online, but there would definitely be an audience for an official release.

To whet your appetite, you can listen to some of the musical highlights from several legendary episodes below, including Prescription: MurderMurder by the Book, Dead Weight, Suitable for Framing, Ransom for a Dead Man and Death Lends a Hand, below. It’s more than an hour long, but well worth making the time for as it’s a reminder of just how important a part the scores play in the enjoyment of each episode.

Columbo Lego set

Lego Columbo

The character ‘DaMumbo’ (based on you-know-who) has already appeared in video game Lego City Undercover, and one enterprising chap is trying to get a matching set – including a Peugeot 403 and Dog – through Lego Ideas.

I say without a jot of hyperbole that this would be a million times cooler than any other Lego set out there. Problem is that for an idea to even be considered for a set, it needs the support of 10,000 people through Lego Ideas – and of course you have to create a log-in to be able to vote (zzzzzzzz).

“I say without a jot of hyperbole that this would be a million times cooler than any other Lego set out there.”

I’m backing it, but this one’s got a long way to go. You can throw your support behind the bid here. Let’s make it happen, people! Columbo… I mean DaMumbo deserves it!

Peugeot advertising campaign

Short Fuse car

How rad would be it be if Peugeot obtained the rights to the Columbo character for an advertising campaign? It’s been done before – and well – by Ford and VW, who took scenes from Bullit and Singin’ in the Rain, featuring Steve McQueen and Gene Kelly respectively, to promote their Puma and Golf cars, so why not with the Lieutenant? He’s suitably celebrated and part of global pop culture, after all.

With many rib-tickling conversations about Columbo’s Peugeot 403 popping up throughout the 70s run, his simple pride in his ‘French car’ could be used to great effect by Peugeot with computer trickery having him talking about and interacting with one of their newest models.

I can’t believe this hasn’t been discussed at Peugeot HQ, so perhaps the idea was shut down by Universal? Whatever, just sort it guys! These would be ads we’d pay to see!

8-bit point and click adventure game

8-bit Columbo

8-bit Columbo would totally work

Columbo‘s slow pace and onus on conversation rather than action set-pieces would allow it to adapt perfectly to the world of the point-and-click adventure.

It would be so sweet. Think Monkey Island or Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. The show’s format is begging to implemented in this way! PLEASE SOMEONE DO THIS! The totally awesome and retro Stranger Things point-and-click tribute demo (put together by the talented gang at Infamous Quests) caused a stir earlier this year. A Columbo homage would be just as welcome.

Columbo reboot?

Columbo reboot

A controversial topic to many Columbo fans, myself included (read my thoughts on this here), but one things for sure: a Columbo reboot would definitely raise awareness of the original series – and Falk’s incomparable portrayal – with a whole new audience.

There’s already high-level support for the idea, with Hollywood heavyweight Mark Ruffalo red-hot on the idea of filling the rumpled Mac, but again Universal don’t seem to be playing ball.

“A Columbo reboot would definitely raise awareness of the original series with a whole new audience.”

If we assume it’ll happen at some stage, the sooner the better in terms of Ruffalo being of a suitable age to pull off the role. While I could live without a reboot, a well-handled and respectful event series, keeping it set in the 70s (not some goof-filled modern update) could be a hit. Will it happen by 2018? I won’t hold my breath…

Commemorative DVD and BluRay box-sets

boxset

The existing complete Columbo DVD box-set, in its cigar-box style case, is very nicely presented, but its lack of extras borders on criminal.

Aside from the admitted glory of all 69 Columbo outings, all we have by way of extras are some ‘BONUS’ Mrs Columbo episodes – and that’s the sort of bonus most of us need like a tyre iron to the temple, or an electric mixer to our bathwater.

“The ‘bonus’ episodes of Mrs Columbo are the sort of bonus most of us need like a tyre iron to the temple.”

What I wouldn’t give for a mountain of extras, including contemporary and current interviews with cast and crew, out-takes, documentaries and commentary. The show absolutely deserves to be made a fuss of, and what better time to do it than the 50th anniversary. It’s over to you, Universal.

Prescription: Murder stage show

Prescription: Murder as we know it was a smash hit in US theatres in 1962, with Thomas Mitchell in the role of Lieutenant Columbo. The TV version we know and love is a faithful adaptation.

In 2010 the stage show was rekindled in the USA and UK, with A-Team ace Dirk Benedict in the lead role. Although I was living in the UK at the time, Mrs Columbo forgot to pick up tickets, so I never saw it. However, it earned excellent reviews and I, for one, would be giddy with joy to see a quality, high-profile version take to the stage once more in 2018.

benedict

Dirk Benedict made an excellent Columbo on stage in 2010

Columbo statue in LA

There’s one in Budapest, Hungary, for somewhat dubious reasons (read all about that here), but it would make a heck of a lot more sense to have one in the Lieutenant’s old stomping ground. Surely not too much of an ask?

Statue 1

That about wraps up my wishlist for now. How about you? Is there anything else you’d like to see? Leave a comment below…

Thanks a trillion for reading. See you around soon.

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5 thoughts on “My wishlist to celebrate Columbo’s 50th anniversary

  1. Pingback: Help make a Columbo Google Doodle a reality! | The columbophile

  2. A Re-Boot? HELL NO! It’s like Queen, The DoorsLed Zeppeling, The Rolling Stones – No one can fill that rain coat and as has been proven attempts to do so are a joke {yes that includes the new Trek abomination – ONLY ONE KIRK DAMMIT!}

    Now a spin-off with the “Mac” character done in a similar style would be great. I always thought that was going to happen and was disappointed it didn’t.

    • Personally I found ‘Mac’ fiendishly annoying and was glad never to see him again. Perhaps a ‘Young Columbo’ style series would work, but casting would be so important.

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