In the absence of any new television mystery or crime drama DVDs being released this week, we thought we'd focus on an upcoming collection of short stories featuring one of the most memorable characters ever to appear on TV, namely LAPD homicide detective Lieutenant Columbo.
Columbo originally aired on NBC as one of a rotating series of weekly mystery movies from 1971 through 1978. A total of 45 episodes aired during this period. Over a decade later, ABC picked up the series, airing an addition 24 episodes on an irregular basis from 1989 through 2003. All NBC episodes are available on DVD from Mysteries on TV: Columbo as are the episodes from 1989 and 1990 that aired on ABC.
The character was created by William Link and Richard Levinson, a collaborative team that ultimately developed a number of memorable television series, including Mannix, McCloud, Ellery Queen, Blacke's Magic, and the venerable Murder, She Wrote. Together they also wrote dozens of screenplays that were filmed as made-for-television movies.
Lt. Columbo was introduced in a 1960 episode of the NBC anthology The Chevy Mystery Show called "Enough Rope", and was played by Bert Freed. The script for this episode was subsequently adapted as Prescription: Murder, a three act stage play written in by Link and Levinson that had a very short national run; Lt. Columbo was played by Thomas Mitchell in the performances. The stage play was finally developed into a screenplay for a stand-alone made-for-television movie, which originally aired in February 1968, starring Peter Falk. It wasn't until 3 years later that Columbo was picked up by NBC to be included in its weekly mystery movie series.
Richard Levinson died suddenly in 1987, but William Link continues to be active in developing series, writing and adapting scripts, and more. His latest creation is a collection of short stories titled The Columbo Collection. Originally scheduled to be published this week by Crippen & Landru, its current publication date is uncertain, but likely to be "soon". The book may be pre-ordered as either a hardcover or trade paperback.
About The Columbo Collection (from the publisher): "Just one more thing ..." Lieutenant Columbo -- short, unkempt, shapeless raincoat flapping open, unlit cigar in his hand -- turns towards the murderer who is certain that this undistinguished plainclothesman will never see through his perfect crime. Then -- just one more thing and the murderer realizes that his murder plot has unraveled. Columbo, played by the marvelous Peter Falk, appeared as a made-for-television movie in 1968, then the long-running series in 1971 and kept coming back over the decades. One of the finest detective series ever to appear on television, Columbo was created by William Link and his late collaborator Richard Levinson. With The Columbo Collection, Link has written 12 brilliant new stories in which murderers try to get away with murder but come up against the rumpled but unflappable Lieutenant Columbo.
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