Although it had a unique approach to the cop show format, the makers of Columbo were not averse to the world of cliché and the programme built up its own repertoire over the years, much to the delight of fans and aficionados. Enthusiasts revel in hearing Lt. Columbo utter his catchphrases ‘just one more thing’ or ‘about that alibi of yours’, watching him trying to find somewhere to stub out his cigar or parking his battered old Peugeot really badly.
The original 70s series featured a cornucopia of special guest stars including William Shatner, Robert Culp, Johnny Cash and Leonard Nimoy but was also a breeding ground for significant talent behind the screens as well – John Cassavetes, Jonathan Demme and Stephen Speilberg all directed episodes.
Now a staple of weekday afternoon television, Columbo continues to find new audiences every year and its appeal looks likely to go on for many more years to come.
The timeless appeal of shows like Columbo and Matlock is the fact that they are the real-life equivalent of what justice should be all about. As Theologian, Robert Zerhusen says: "Columbo begins by making observations and asking questions. His questions are innocuous at first. The questions then become irritating as he brings out problems with the initial explanation. For the person who has committed the crime, Columbo becomes a nuisance."