Columbo: Nobody Wants ”Columbo’s Last Case”

Peter Falk as ColumboPeter Falk’s detective with the trademark rumpled raincoat and easy-going demeanor has been around for almost 40 years. Columbo movies ran for 10 years on NBC and the character was later resurrected for two dozen movies on ABC. Audiences love spending time with the seemingly bumbling cop and Peter Falk is anxious to play the character once more but there’s a little problem.

Universal Television has a completed Columbo movie script that was initially called “Hear No Evil.” It was later renamed “Columbo’s Last Case” and would mark the 70th and final time that Falk plays his popular character. Columbo has helped Falk earn four Emmy Awards and, if production began soon, the film could be ready for February 2008 (the 40th anniversary of the sleuth’s first appearance).

Unfortunately, none of the networks are interested. ABC, who aired 24 Columbo movies from 1989 to 2003, was offered the project but they declined. Executive VP of programming at NBC Universal Charles Engel says, “It took a while to find the right [script] and for Peter to give it the okay. It’s a darn good script with a really clever twist ending, but ABC opted not to go forward. No one wants to buy a movie with an 80-year old lead.”

NBC (who, like Universal Television, is also owned by General Electric) was offered the movie but the peacock network isn’t doing TV movies these days. NBC Universal ‘s USA Network passed on the project as well.

In a time when networks are desperate to attract younger audiences, is the lack of interest due to Falk’s age? William Link, who co-created the character with Richard Levinson, says, ” Ageism is rampant in Hollywood, at all levels, but this might be more than ageism. The detective shows on the broadcast networks are all police procedurals dominated by endless discussions of forensic evidence. Columbo was a classy, clever, witty show that challenged you to use your mind. It wasn’t something designed to just race across your retina. It didn’t rely on violence or technical jargon. It was a talky show, and there was an elegance to the talk, and that’s just the kind of thing that terrifies the networks these days.”

Fortunately, there is hope for “Columbo’s Last Case.” Columbo has a strong following in many countries across the globe like Japan, Germany, England, France, Italy, Romania, Holland, Brazil, Ecuador and even Iran. Engel is pursuing foreign partnerships which will hopefully take on some of the costs and make the project more financially appealing to a US network.

Engel concludes, “We owe it to the Columbo fans, to Peter, and to this great character to keep trying.” Stay tuned! TV Series Finale home page

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21 Comments · Read them below or add one

  1. Dixie says

    RS, furthering the series with someone else in the role is NOT an option. So much of what Columbo was came from Falk: The tan raincoat, the phrase “just one more thing”, searching through his pockets for pad and pencil, the slouch, the shambling walk, touching the fingers to his forehead, the car, and more. Those things came from his mind–not the script writers. Anyone else playing Columbo would be a pale imitation, almost a caricature, like some other actor imitating Falk as Columbo. To make the character totally his own, an actor would have to throw out Falk’s contributions to the character and start from scratch, but then he wouldn’t be or resemble Columbo. It wouldn’t work.

  2. says

    You are missing the point…..all of us original Columbo fans now HAVE dementia so who’d notice? Kidding….I wished it could have been aired….I know these people have made tons of $$$ actors,producers etc….either case there is little loyalty in the entertainment industry. Columbo will go down in history as a keeper. Just like Sherlock Holmes. Peter Falk is the man….God bless him.

  3. Shilohbloo says

    I and my family have loved Columbo, and Peter Falk’s portral of him, for as long as we can remember. No one could ever replace Peter Falk as the lovable lieutenant, and there should never, ever be a last case. I do wonder if the twist ending to this unaired episode is actually that it really isn’t his last case at all, but simply a clever deception in reeling in the latest bad guy. Unfortunately, at this point it, no longer matters. If Peter Falk was healthy, it wouldn’t matter his age, but the dementia pretty much rules it out. So, we thank Peter Falk so very much for all the wonderful entertainment throughout the years. Our love and prayers are with him always.

  4. RS says

    I’m 20 and I love Columbo, it’s one of my favourite shows and it’s way better than the MTV rubbish that’s driven down the youth’s throats nowadays, but Falk it too old and is suffering from dementia. It would hurt his legacy if this final episode was to be made as he wouldn’t be at his best. Rather, they should wait until a really talented actor can embrace HIS role of Columbo and further the series. I wouldn’t want it to be modernised much, they should keep the same time period and setting.

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