Since childhood, I love detective series. Colombo has always been more to me than just a murder movie. This hero created an amazing image and atmosphere of humanity.
I like the fact that he is not perfect. He is not canonically handsome, he smokes cigars, he is untidy, messy and even clumsy. And at the same time, he causes the deepest sympathy. In my opinion, it happens because this hero from episode to episode demonstrates how unimportant the appearance is in comparison with the values of truth, justice and life. And how unimportant it is, when a person is so impartial, respectful and kind to anyone, regardless of his status. If he would be perfect like James Bond, he would not be real. And this hero, like no other, is so real and so alive.
First of all, the series came in two parts: early series (from 1971 to 1977) and late ones (from 1989 to 2003).
I like later series a lot less. The atmosphere and rhythm of the 70s are much better suited to the hero, his method, and intelligent killers. In the 90s and especially 2000s, the mainstream of the detective genre became more “action movie” like and cruel. Although musical themes in the later seasons are much brighter and more stylish.
In general, this series shows the changes in the genre of detective movies over 30 years by music, screen captions, the speed of events, frames, how the work of the police is demonstrated.
The first episode begins almost like a Bond movie. And Colombo is a stylish young detective with a gel in his hair. Because, of course, everyone was impressed by the stories and image of James Bond. It’s nice that bit by bit the series finds its own style. The image of the hero is becoming more and more informal. And the 70s is the time of the hippies and the search for a new freedom. In the first seasons, most often we are shown the work of one Colombo, as classic detective. Demonstration of the collective work of the police becomes popular in the early 90s, in my opinion. So, in this series in the late seasons we see his colleagues who not only takes an active part in the process, but also keep appearing from episode to episode. In the early seasons, music practically does not play any role in the series and is barely recognizable in the background. In the seasons of the 90s, the episode begins with active chords, which at the right time support turns of the story. And, of course, the change of technology in society could not help but find a reflection in the detective film.
The main development of the script in each series is surprisingly simple: at the beginning, the killer commits a crime in front of the audience, then Colombo exposes it based on minor inconsistencies. Although in some episodes there some changes of the scenario course, but more on that later.
I’ve watched all 69 episodes of this series and I want to share my favorites, i.e. the best in my opinion.
I remembered some episodes because of a sophisticated crime, some because of a brilliant disclosure, and some because of the story. Here are 8 Colombo episodes to fall in love with him:
#6 (season 1, episode 4)
This is classic episode of the Colombiana. I enjoy the measured flow of Colombo’s processing in such episodes just by watching him. In this episode you can learn his method. Everything happens immediately at the very beginning of the episode, without any background story, even for this series it’s bold. And then through a series of simple but painful questions for the killer Colombo exposes him. It’s so nice how easy, basing on psychology, and not on formal facts, he dismisses the suspect imposed on him. Here his irresistible desire for justice is manifested. And such a simple but inventive way to prove the guilt of a real criminal is delightful! Of all detectives that I’ve watch and read I’ve never met it.
#15 (season 2, episode 6)
This episode is worth to see, firstly, for the brilliant negative role of Leonard Nimoy. I haven’t watched a single Star Track episode, but there is a stereotypical picture in my head of an adored hero by millions of people. And here is such a lifelike person that you almost hate what made me only more respect this actor.
Secondly, the method of crime is amazing. Together with Colombo, we learn the intricacies of surgery on which people’s lives depend. I really like how humanly weak and emotional Colombo is shown watching surgery operation himself, while he still maintains clarity of thinking and brilliantly does his job. This is that combination of his qualities which make me respect him. This episode is more intense than usual but goes in one breath.
#19 (season 3, episode 2)
Each episode has a theme set by the profession of a killer. And during the movie, Colombo learns the basics of profession, that sometimes helps him expose the killer. This time the killer is a winemaker deeply passionate about his business. Colombo have nice talks with him, trying to figure out the wines. It was unusual for me that during this episode I rather feel pity for the killer. Colombo reveals the crime very gracefully, again very unexpectedly the killer himself helps him. At the same time, the detective remains surprisingly generous to a professional until the very end. This is what I really like about this series, no one is running anywhere, no one is wringing someone’s hands. Intelligent criminal easily understands when it’s over, and at the same time keeps self-control and dignity. So beautiful.
#21 (season 3, episode 4)
This is also a classic Colombo episode. It seems that such masterful crime of a cold-blooded rational person will never be revealed. The episode introduces us to the interesting details of the advertising industry of the 70s. As usual, I have a great pleasure to follow Colombo’s reasonings and inquiries. He calmly talks to the criminal with his cards open about what he did and that he has no evidence to prove it. The self-control of the heroes is amazing. And it’s so nice to see how masterfully Colombo makes the criminal betray himself!
#28 (season 4, episode 3)
Non-standard situation – military academy, where Colombo is a resident. He gets us into a network of relationships within the institution. This causes a number of cute situations and funny moments that are nice to watch. And again, Colombo makes a brilliant disclosure of the crime, forcing the offender to betray himself. My heart was taken by the way he did it, basing on the psychology of the killer himself, which he learnt during the investigation.
#29 (season 4, episode 4)
Colombo goes on a cruise with his wife, whom we won’t see in the episode, that makes it funny by itself. For the entire series, she does not appear in episode once, although Colombo often mentions her. But we will see a crime calculated up to a second, that it seems impossible to solve. Colombo in this episode demonstrates very inventive methods of investigation, so-called “on the knee”, which are nice to watch.
#33 (season 5, episode 2)
The contrast of Colombo’s personality with ambassadors and diplomats causes a series of comic situations and makes you laugh. Here as nowhere a contrast between the appearance of the hero and his essence is shown. And the essence, thank God, is more important! The episode is also interesting because this time Colombo reveals the crime, although he is forbidden to and actually can’t do that.
#42 (season 7, episode 2)
The theme of the episode is the restaurant business, in which Colombo has to figure out to solve the crime (not without the help of the killer himself). There are very nice scenes of communication between Colombo and a dynasty of Italian restaurateurs. We also meet this in the episodes 50 and 64. I like the way he practically becomes obsessed, because he wants to achieve a result. And this is another character quality that talks to me – zeal. It can’t help but cause respect.
For those who still in love with classic detective story there were several episodes with unpredictable outcome. So, no spoiler. These episodes are:
#37 (season 5, episode 6)
The story seems to develop according to the usual scenario, but in the middle of the episode the killer dies, so Colombo is forced to start all over again.
#55 (season 9, episode 6)
The beginning is again familiar, the crime happens in front of the viewer, but circumstances force the detective to look for a second killer.
#60 (season 10, episode 5)
Chase episode is unique to this series format. Colombo and his colleagues track down the crazy kidnapper, like us, get to know him at the last second.
#64 (season 10, episode 9)
An episode in a “treasure hunt” style is also unique to the series. Piece by piece, the detective collects a photograph of the place where a bunch of money is hidden. It’s very funny to watch the moments of Colombo working undercover.
I hope that after this list you, like me, will be inspired by the atmosphere and want to watch the whole series!
I wish you a pleasant viewing!