Saturday, June 25, 2011

Colombo- Bent Cop

The death of Peter Falk, best known for playing Colombo, brings me on to something that I think needs saying- Colombo is the acceptable face of police corruption.

Just consider his methods of "solving" crimes:

  1.  Get called out to murder.
  2. Meet someone at the crime scene.
  3. Decide they’re guilty.
  4. Repeatedly harass them.
  5. Ignore all other leads.
  6. Harass the target some more.
  7. Evidence against the supposed killer magically turns up.
 In fact his methods of constantly turning up to ask "just one more question" as his target tries to get on with life as normal can be considered a form of psychological torture.

Abandoning all other lines of inquiry is an act of gross negligence and must lead to many killers going free.

No you may argue that Colombo always gets the right person however we only have the confession (false confessions are a well known result of psychological torture) and the television's word that he did. What about all the investigations Colombo must have bungled but never made it to air?

Yes mourn the man who played Colombo but also mourn the hypothetical and fictional men and women who've hypothetically spent decades in an imaginary prison for crimes that they did not commit.


Matthew said...

I think it's unfair to say he ignores all other leads, quite often he gives them at least a cursory glance.

Also you say there must be other cases that didn't make it to TV, but I'm not sure. Even in 1970s and 1990s LA could there have been that many murders in the more exclusive districts?

Ross said...

Matthew- Colombo only ran for 69 episodes in it's 35 year run, that's only two murders a year, even for the high class areas of Los Angeles that doesn't seem like much.

James Higham said...

Ha ha - the other side of the coin. How to make a career out of being an annoying tick.

Lord T said...

I think you will find he simply read the entire script where he investigated all the leads properly. At the end of the script the culprit was identified.

So he simply concentrated on the culprit for the show which saved on actors fees and trauma for the others who would have met him.

No innocent pixillated characters were harassed during the show.

Ross said...

Lord T- that would surely be cheating!

Michael Fowke said...

By the way, Colombo was based on the cop in Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment.

I'll get me coat.

TDK said...

Columbo isn't a whodunnit where we follow the detective as he runs through the suspects (eg Poirot). Rather from the first we follow the murderer. We see him commit the deed and then follow him as the net closes. The comment about Crime and Punishment is apposite.

Thus to say that Columbo ignores other leads or harasses the murderer is wrong. "We don't know" what Columbo gets up to the rest of the time.

I would say the biggest flaw is the way that Columbo oftens gets his man on circumstantial evidence. For example Donald Pleasance, is a wine buff who turned off the cooling in his cellar to alter the time of time for his murdered brother and in the process ruins his own fine wine collection. Only a wine buff would be able to detect that the wine had not been stored correctly. Thus he captures himself.