I wrote about Peter Falk, and his portrayal of Lt. Columbo, for the Wall Street Journal today. I said, in part:
Before Peter Falk came along with his iconic portrayal of Lt. Columbo, TV detectives were never people like us. For the most part, they were a smug and self-assured bunch, comfortable in their mental, moral, and physical attributes and their obvious superiority over not only the bad guys, but everybody else, too.
They were smooth and elegant, like Gene Barry’s millionaire homicide cop Amos Burke, or stalwart do-gooders like Jack Webb’s by-the-book Joe Friday, or handsome tough guys like Burt Reynolds’s Dan August. We watched them because they were better versions of ourselves, wish-fulfillment caricatures who didn’t have our imperfections, our doubts, our anxieties. They weren’t so much characters as they were a means of escape from our dreary lives.
But we watched…no, we adored…Peter Falk’s Columbo because he was us: an everyman, working class, messy, and imperfect, dealing with the physical and domestic woes we know so well, and constantly underestimated by wealthier, better-educated people as a result.