It’s not often I dedicate an entire blog post to the jottings of another, but when that writer is Columbo doyen Mark Dawidziak I will pay my dues accordingly.
Columbo afficionados will, of course, be familiar with TV critic Dawidziak’s 1989 modern classic, The Columbo Phile. For more casual fans, the book was a complete and illustrated history of the show, chronicling its origins, inception and providing commentary on every episode from 1968’s Prescription: Murder, to The Conspirators from 1978.
Dawidziak was given unprecedented access to cast and crew and the book features recollections from (amongst others) Peter Falk, Leonard Nimoy, Patrick McGoohan, Richard Kiley, Steven Bochco, William Link and Dick Levinson. Read all about the book here. I consider it my Columbo bible. Heck, it’s a book so good that it directly influenced my social media handles and the title of this blog.
“Dawidziak’s article is one that all genuine Columbophiles will want to spend quality time with.”
Still, that’s all by and by. The reason I’m writing this is to alert you all to the fact that Mr Dawidziak has returned to our favourite subject matter to pen a rather marvellous tribute to Columbo in its 50th year, which was published in The Plain Dealer – the main daily paper for Cleveland, Ohio – on 2 September 2018.
Naturally, Dawidziak’s words of Columbo wisdom deserve a much wider audience than mere city and country boundaries. So his article is one that all genuine Columbophiles will want to spend quality time with.
Of note is a delightful closing quote from Peter Falk, given to the critic some years after The Columbo Phile was published, and which summed up why actor and viewers alike had such enduring appeal.
“They like the man a lot,” Falk said of Columbo. “Columbo is a man who seems to know who he is. He’s content with himself. He’s good at his job. And he’s not preoccupied with the shallow things in life . . . I like the guy a lot.”
Right on, Pete. Right on!
Mark Dawidziak’s book and article have had a strong impact on my own research about the detective and his unique brand of “rhetorical inquiry” or strategically designed meetings and questioning. I am indebted to his work.
Reading between his scant few lines even acknowledging the existence of the 1989-2003 Columbos, I can make an educated guess why Dawidziak never “revised and updated” his terrific book. But it is still a questions worth asking Mark directly, if anyone has the chance. [And if you do, you might also mention that Link and Levinson spelled the last name of the “Prescription: Murder” villain “Flemming.”]
Thanks so much for posting a link to this terrific article!! I managed to buy a copy of Mr Dawidziak’s wonderful book on ebay several years ago for a reasonable price (it can be quite expensive) and have referred to it often.
Thanks for sharing this! I remember stumbling across the book in the early 90s at the Museum of Television and Motion Picture Sciences in LA and am glad I bought did. It’s a marvelous book and I’m thrilled to read more by him on our favorite subject. Thanks again!
After eight months of joining the Columbo craze and now that I’m finished with the complete series (well there are a few episodes from both eras I still need to check out but mostly finished) I hope to purchase this Columbo bible I keep hearing about. Columbo is the gold standard for detective\cop shows and I now compare it to everything else they put out. The only other detective shows I think is next to Columbo is Perry Mason, Matlock, The Rockford Files and Murder, she wrote in terms of true classic murder mysteries with great quirky and enduringly lovable characters. I think it’s a shame that we don’t have any detective crime show that put half the effort Columbo did in crafting such absurd, brilliant and compelling puzzles that take real brain power to figure out but were also so entertaining while also giving us a human, funny, quirky and most importantly humble detective who isn’t broken or an unpleasant human being no one would hang out with in real life. I may get some heat for this but Columbo could beat Sherlock Holmes any day for me. Especially the new incarnation on Elementary where the crimes don’t even match a Columbo case nevertheless a classic cerebral Sherlock Holmes tale. All hail the Lieutenant for 50 years of badassery with a rumpled rain coat, a nasty cigar and a old but reliable (mostly) Peugeot.
thank you for this!
I treasure the Columbo Phile by Mark Dawidziak, which I bought so many years ago. I only wish he had written a second volume. No better detective show ever than Columbo! Your website is tops! It always puts a smile on my face as I remember each episode. Thank you!
Bravo to you & Mr. Dawidziak! His stellar book & your fabulous site have happily enhanced my love for Columbo & Peter Falk for years now. The show deserves kudos & coverage up the wazoo. It is a joy for the ages. Great post!