Why They Should Never Reboot ‘Columbo’

Sometimes I feel like I am a rare pop culture fan. I care deeply about the stuff I’m into, but I don’t consider any of it sacred. I don’t care about reboots. I don’t care about remakes. Want to make a new version of a movie I love? Go for it. Maybe I won’t watch it, but it doesn’t hurt me. I also have a pet peeve about when people call a remake or reboot “unnecessary.” Guess what? The original was unnecessary too. None of this is vital. Make good stuff and I’m happy.

However, not every remake is a good idea. Sometimes you just don’t have a handle on the tone, or have an adequate replacement for the main character. That’s the primary issue with reboots and remake, I believe. It would also be true if they ever dared to remake Columbo.

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You know Columbo. Peter Falk stars as the titular homicide detective. He plays dumb, he’s all rumpled, and in the end he always catches the killer. I don’t love Columbo. I like it, but I don’t like it as much as even, say, The Rockford Files. If they remade The Rockford Files, I could see it working. There are people I could imagine stepping into the shoes of James Garner as Jim Rockford. What I can’t imagine, though, is something truly capturing the character of Columbo.

I don’t think anybody, or at least anybody plausible, could get close enough. At that point, you are making a bad remake, and you should just do something new and fresh. I feel the same way when people say, “We should have a female James Bond!” Well how about starting a new spy series with a female lead? At that point “James Bond” is just some bit of intellectual property and that feels silly to me.

Falk’s performance as Columbo is just so idiosyncratic. I’ve thought a lot, I mean a lot, about actors who I could possibly see as Columbo. In the past I’ve seen people throw out names like Mark Ruffalo. That’s both not perfect but also implausible. Ruffalo is a great actor. He’s not starring in a TV show like Columbo. At least not yet. Even if he did, it would be an imperfect fit, a C+ at best. Recently online people have been throwing out the name Natasha Lyonne. There we get back to the “Why not let her play her own idiosyncratic detective?” thing. By the way, I’d give that show a shot for sure. Have you seen Russian Doll? Do it now.

I’ve genuinely probably spent a couple hours of my life trying to find an adequate Columbo replacement for Falk, but I have not yet. As such, there is one show I hope doesn’t get rebooted. It just won’t feel right. If you think you’ve got the right name for the role, though, let us know. Maybe my mind can be swayed.

About Chris Morgan

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