Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

We want Mark Ruffalo to play Lieutenant Columbo

Have you seen our Mark in Zodiac? Well, then you know what we mean.

Wed, Jul 16, 2014, 17:18


Let me first clarify, lest there be any doubt, that I bow to nobody in my devotion to the magnificent Columbo. You can take your new-fangled The Shield. You can have your True Detective. The greatest cop-show of all time is unquestionably that odd Mystery Movie sequence from the 1970s. The singular structure, in which we saw the murder and then followed Columbo as he sought to irritate the suspect into a confession, was quite ingenious. The various repeated tropes — “One more thing, Mam” — created a warm familiar glow every time they turned up. It was great to see all those super character actors in action. And, of course, the late Peter Falk was quite brilliant in the title role. Nobody else has done that holy fool quite so charmingly in a mainstream show. He was a character to stand beside Jules Maigret, Sherlock Holmes and Philip Marlowe.

So, how can I contemplate some sort of dangerous revision? There has already been one unearthing with Falk — a series screened as late as 2003 — and, while far from awful, it didn’t really feel like the real thing. Well, television producers have got much better at these disinterments. Look at Dr Who, Sherlock and Hannibal. The folk behind those shows have demonstrated an ability to tweak the material for a new era while still retaining the flavours that signify. If those braniacs at HBO engaged with Columbo I feel they could produce something worth looking at. Maybe Jonathan Demme and Steven Spielberg, who began their careers on the show, could be lured back for my imaginary reboot.

Then there’s Mark Ruffalo. When David Fincher’s excellent Zodiac came out, I bored everyone who would listen (come back!) with my theory that Mark was playing a version of Columbo. Just look at the image to the top of this post and tell me I’m wrong. He’s got the coat. He had the bedraggled look. He was the right sort of tenacious copper. The picture looks like a still from a remake of the classic Any Old Port in a Storm episode with Brian Cox in the Donald Pleasence role. Somebody needs to make this happen. I am not quite the only person to say this. Search the internet and you will find at least half a dozen other maniacs with too much time on their hands. Go to Twitter and you will find discussion gathering around the hashtag #ruffacolumbo.┬áMaybe we’ll start a petition. Maybe not.

Just one more thing…

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