Fans of a certain type of television drama might be astonished to read that, this month, the NBC Mystery Movie series turns 40. Over the coming weeks, The Rap Sheet will take an affectionate glance back at the various series produced under the Mystery Movie banner. Its first installment looks at the show that started it all, featuring “rumpled, stogie-chomping, and unassuming Lieutenant Columbo of the Los Angeles Police Department [who] matches wits with prominent, devious, and generally prosperous murderers.”
As The Rap Sheet recalls of Columbo’s creators:
Their plan was to hire Bing Crosby as Columbo, but the aging crooner-actor kindly passed on the role. Subsequently, a younger performer from New York named Peter Falk contacted Levinson and Link, saying, “I’ll kill to play that cop,” and he quickly won them over with his offbeat sense of humor and Everyman persona.