Today: June 20, 2024

Columbo: The Complete 1970s Collection

The concept was groundbreaking: a murder mystery in which the audience is told in the first five minutes who done it, and then they get to watch the detective work it out.

But the real genius of Columbo wasn’t so much the mysteries, as the character created by Peter Falk. Shabby, unconventional, irritating, but utterly brilliant, Falk’s cigar chomping, trench coat wearing, police lieutenant was a star from the very first TV movie.

In fact, Falk won four Emmy Awards for his portrayal of Lieutenant Columbo in 1972, 1975, 1976 and 1990 — becoming the highest paid actor on television. In the 1970s he was being paid an incredible $500,000 per episode.

The show was so iconic that the show’s guest list looks like a who’s who of 1970s biggest names, including Jack Cassidy, Vincent Price, Martin Sheen, Vera Miles, Vitto Scotti, Johnny Cash, Dick Van Dyke, Robert Vaughn, Janet Leigh, Ed Begley Jr. George Hamilton, Leonard Nimoy, Pat Morita, Leslie Nielsen, Patrick McGoohan, William Shatner, and Falk’s second wife, Shera Danese, who played six roles in six different episodes. A 24-year-old Steven Spielberg was also the director of the first episode of the series (four years before he became a household name directing Jaws). Titled Murder by the Book, it was filmed second (after Death Lends a Hand) but was bumped up to the premier slot at the last minute as it was so good.

Fabulous Film’s latest box set release is more than a trip down memory lane. It’s a must-buy for any fan of the detective genre.

Previously only available on blu-ray as a pretty pricy Japanese import, The Complete 1970s Collection is a superb 20-disc blu-ray set contains the first seven seasons of everyone’s favourite detective series, including the two original pilot TV movies, restored and remastered by NBC Universal in 4K. That’s 3754 minutes of top-notch, mustn’t miss entertainment.

Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email: writerpaula@icloud.com

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