Sherlock and Dr Who writer/producer Steven Moffat has clarified his stance on Columbo following an interview in which he revealed he’d failed in a bid to bring the Lieutenant back to screens.
In the recent interview with The Radio Times, Moffat discussed his doomed attempt to secure the rights to Columbo, and was quoted as saying: “My plan was to put Peter Falk to the back of my mind and start again from the beginning. Maybe just go madly different.”
A further quote added: “The one thing Columbo has to be is the most unprepossessing, seemingly unimpressive sadist you’ll ever meet. All that ‘Oh, just one more thing’ stuff isn’t absent-mindedness. He’s such a sadist.”
This set alarm bells ringing across the Columbo community – including right here on this blog, where I published an article earlier today outlining my objections to the idea of ever taking Columbo in ‘madly different’ directions, and rebuffing the idea that the Lieutenant could ever be considered sadistic.
“Much of the writing on Columbo – especially the early stuff, but throughout – is inhumanly good.”Steven Moffat
The article has since been the subject of much online discussion amongst the fan base, leading to Moffat himself making contact via the comments section of the blog to clarify his position.
Moffat wrote: “As a huge Columbo fan, I’ve always enjoyed this website, so I wanted to set the record straight here. First of all – most importantly – I’m NOT doing Columbo. I’ve got The Time Traveler’s Wife for HBO, Inside Man for the BBC, a play, and a possible movie. You’re quite safe, I promise.
“Second, the interview made my views sound rather odd. What I had advocated, during my one meeting about Columbo, was doing the show EXACTLY THE SAME WAY. No change required. Beyond finding a new lead (which, I accept, might be impossible) there’s nothing to alter. It’s perfect. Much of the writing – especially the early stuff, but throughout – is inhumanly good. Just matching that would be nigh on unachievable, let alone trying to improve on it.
“My comments about the ‘sadism’ were episode specific. I mentioned in passing that I liked it in An Exercise In Fatality when Columbo’s dislike of the murderer boils to the surface, and his toying with him becomes quite merciless.
“I always enjoyed those moments when the ‘bumbling’ mask fell away. Like that wonderful moment when he menaces the golf pro in Death Lends A Hand. But those are occasional treats, not the spine of the character, I know that.
“Anyway hope that clarifies, and I can go back to reading your website without feeling like Public Enemy Number One. I’m not doing it, and what I’m not doing isn’t what you think I’m not doing.”
“So long as Columbo fans don’t think I was dead set destroying what I consider to be a genuine TV masterpiece.”Steven Moffat
So any confusion and ire caused to fans by The Radio Times‘ choice of quotes needs to be put in perspective. As Moffat added: “The interviewer wasn’t being a dick, in fairness – he was grabbing the most radical thing I said on the subject and headlining it. Fair enough. I should watch my mouth better by now.
“So long as Columbo fans don’t think I was dead set destroying what I consider to be a genuine TV masterpiece.”
I’d like to put on record my thanks to Mr Moffat for taking the time to clarify his position and hope he won’t take my earlier article too much to heart. After all, it sounds like we’re both Columbo purists at our cores.
As a final word, I might suggest to The Radio Times writer to grab the Columbo box set and familiarise themself with the show to avoid any accidental controversy should the spiky subject of a Columbo reboot ever be raised again…