I don’t have the best memory, barely remembering what I did yesterday, much less much from my childhood. But I do remember a time when my parents had a very small TV — smaller than the monitor of my Airbook — in their bedroom. Black and white, if I remember right. And I remember all of us — my parents, my brothers and me — squeezing into their bed late at night (for little kids, anyways) and watching a bit of TV. And I remember my favorite show being Columbo. I don’t remember any episodes and barely remember the characters, but I do remember the guy in the trench coat solving mysteries. And I remember thinking it the greatest thing. Columbo and The Rockford Files were my two favorite shows.
Looking back and seeing an occasional rerun now and then, Columbo still holds up. The character Peter Falk created is just great. The guy no one thinks is at all competent, but is really the smartest guy around, unassumingly solving crimes while those around him don’t realize he is doing it. I tried to get my wife to watch an episode of The Rockford Files a few years ago and it sure felt dated, especially Jim Rockford’s attitude towards women. But, I expect Columbo would hold up a lot better.
They were talking about Peter Falk on NPR on the way home today. They mentioned he had a glass eye and he used that to great affect to create the bemused and sometime befuddled expressions Columbo had.
There seem to be a lot of shows from my youth — Columbo, MASH, and, yes, even The Rockford Files — that had great characters and, to me, just aren’t matched today in quality. Maybe I’m becoming that grumpy old man that will soon be saying “Back in the old days…” But, it really does seem that they just made them better back then.