ESL Podcast Home ESL Podcast Store
HOME > BLOG > Your Favorite TV Detective

Your Favorite TV Detective

The television detective has been a part of TV history nearly from its earliest days. Cops (police officers) and private eyes (private detectives) used to be the most common type of TV detectives, but anyone can be a detective on television: attorneys (lawyers), doctors, and even mystery novelists (book writers).  With so many TV detectives, can you pick a favorite?

My favorite American TV detective is perhaps an unusual choice.  This detective was most popular in the 1970’s, and I watched most of the shows in reruns (a later showing of the same episode) many years later. He is a cop, but not an obvious choice for a hero (someone who is brave, whose actions help people, and is admired by others).  His name is Columbo.

Lieutenant (one of the ranks (levels) in the police force below captain) Columbo is a detective with the Los Angeles Police Department.  He is not young, not good-looking, and he’s always rumpled (looking messy and wrinkled, like he just got out of bed).  But don’t let appearances fool you (trick you).  Columbo has the mind of a steel trap (can think quickly, clearly, and intelligently).  It is precisely (exactly) because his appearance (the way he looks) and his manner (way he behaves) are so unassuming (modest; humble) that the murderer often underestimates him (believes he is less able, skilled, intelligent, etc., than he is).  With persistence (not giving up; continuing to try even when the situation is difficult), Columbo always gets his man — or woman (finds the criminal).

Peter Falk was the actor who played (acted in the role as) Lieutenant Columbo and he died in 2011. He acted in many films and was twice nominated (named as a possible winner) for an Academy Award, but he was best known for his role as Columbo.  Columbo was on the air from 1971 to 1978, and then returned occasionally (from time to time) between 1989 and 2003 in TV movies.

Do you watch TV detective shows?  Who is your favorite TV detective of all time?  What makes him or her such a good detective?

~ Lucy

Photo Credit: Peter Falk Columbo from Wikipedia

21 Responses to “Your Favorite TV Detective”

  1. Emiliano Says:

    Hi eslpod team, this is my first time writing here, and I want to say that the best TV detective is the “Inspector Gadget”, I spent all my childhood watching him.

    Regards to everyone

  2. Dan Says:

    Hello!

    I also was a Colombo’s fun. His series had a huge succes here in Italy.
    I have seen all the episodes. I liked when he pissed people off, you konw, like going out from a room to come back, making a pause and asking questions that make you nervous. It was funny.

    Something that I am enjoing now, is looking again at these series in their original language.
    Now that I am used to it, I can’t see a movie in the dub version.
    I must say though, that our dubbers are really good, really professional.

    Have you noticed that the president of Iran looks like Colombo? Every time I see him on TV I shout to the TV hey Looks who’s here Colombo!
    I pick Colombo too, is one of the best.

    Thanks Lucy! again, congratulations for your podcast!

  3. Antonio Carlos Says:

    I remember Kojak, with Telly Savalas. Who does not remember Kojak with his ubiquitous lollipop? Very funny.

  4. Betty Says:

    Wonderful post! I love it! Thank you very much indeed, Lucy, I love this post.

    I do not watch TV now because I do not like the TV programs in Hong Kong.

    When I was in England, I have a tiny TV in my bedroom so that I can watch my favorite program in my bedroom when my husband and the children watch their favorite program in the sitting room.

    What, then, is my favorite program? Columbo – the American detective mystery television film series you talked about in this article.

    In fact I would not watch Columbo with my children last time because I did not think it was suitable for children.

    However, I watched Inspector Gadget with my children, it was very good, I enjoyed it myself too.

    Thank you Emiliano for reminding me about the Inspector Gadget. I thought you were our long time friend emiliano from Madrid when I saw your name, but then I realized you are Emiliano who wrote here for the first time. Where is our emiliano?

    I am very happy to share the same taste with Lucy, our clever English teacher. I like the Columbo starred by Peter Falk. I was sad to read the news last year that he passed away. I never knew that he was not immortal.

    Another mystery TV program that I like very much is “Murder, She Wrote”. It is an American television mystery series starring Angela Lansbury as mystery writer and amateur detective Jessica Fletcher.

    Oh, there is one more mystery TV program that I enjoy watching. It is called “ Diagnosis: Murder”, starring Dick Van Dyke as Dr. Mark Sloan, a medical doctor who solves crimes with the help of his son, a homicide detective played by his real-life son Barry Van Dyke.

    Thank you again, Lucy, I finally discover what I like: mystery, like Dr. Lucy Tse, our mystery English teacher.

    Betty :)

  5. hubert Says:

    Colobo and Kojak are my favorites but many people in my country (Poland) like don Matteo form Gubbio (Italy). Dan, you shouild know him.
    Pity, you probably don’t konow lieutenent Borewicz our local hero-cop.
    Regards.

  6. valdemar Says:

    Actually it is Poirot!.. )) Hercule Poirot, by David Suchet is the best detective I have ever seen on TV.. ))) How do you think? But before I’d seen Poirot, Columbo was the best one )) … And one more thing: to be honest I do not watch “Columbo” alot time.. ) May be I shall rewatch it, and than he wiill take the first place? ))) I consider there is two (not one) great detectives ever exist: Poirot and Columbo! ))) Is it permitted? Hmmm? ))))) Yes, it is for me… )))))

  7. Peter Says:

    Hi Lucy,
    Very rich post indeed,
    You can’t even beging to imagine how much I have learned from you and your peculiarly beautiful powerful pen.
    I have watched many episods of Lieutenant Clompbo. Pete Falk’s scruffy looks along with his peculiar humour resgiter in mind.i mean if you watch one pr two episods ,it will stay on your Mond forever.
    His best performance was in the movie called “The basket of miracle.”
    The movie is funny as hell. He was more of a comedian that a serious acter. But ,let me tell you guys,he was a powerful actor who could single handadly captured the audience. His simple ,and lovable character was very charming. He usually had a hint of that character in every single role he played.
    And there is one more thing ,one of his eyes was a glass eye.did you know that Lucy.
    He was a powerful actor.
    May his soul rest in peace.

    Cheers,

    Dingbat:))

  8. Peter Says:

    Oh ,seems like we got a bit of a problem here.
    We have the pleasure of getting acquaintance with our bew frind :Emiliano
    From the looks of it ,there are two Emilianos here on blog.
    The blog well-known Emiliano who is our dear friend Emiliano who we have had the pleasure of his compony for quite long.
    And,our new dear friend Emiliano.
    Guys,is it me ,or it may become a bit confusing.
    So,my old friend Emiliano and my newly-joned Eslpod Freind Emiliano work something here please,so we can tell whose comment is whose.
    I mean assign a mark or sign of sth.or perhaps one of you can start your name with lower case” e” and one with upper case” E”
    Ofcourse , it is just a suggestion I m putting out there ,a premature idea perhaps . just sth to consider. Perhaps ,my new friend Emiliano could use his family name or a number of some sort in front of his name. You know, we have known the famouse Emiliano quite long that we have grown accustomed to his original name
    But,they are all suggestions, you might as well not to change a thing!

    Yours

    Peter

  9. Peter Says:

    Lucy,you know what
    Your todat’s post got me thinking. You know ,everybody out there ,no matter if they are gifted in a certain way or not, can achieve everything they put their Mond into.
    You see what I m trying to get at here.
    Take Peter Falk for example. His life was a hell of accomplishment.
    You know ,when I started listening to u guys, I thought to myself:it is quite an opportunity. I can build up sth here. As a result of that thought ,I started taking away just a tad in every lessons,never overwhelm myself. I started to pick up English skills via eslpo little by little ,and here I am : 5 years down the road ,and I finally have got off the ground. I started dreaming in English and so forth.
    You know ,to me , it is a huge accompolishment.
    Before eslpod time, even the though of dreaming in English was just another pipe dream, a whisful thinking.
    I m not gloatting here. I m just saying ,” We as human beings, can achieve whatever we put our minds to.”

    Eslpod ,you made an impossible ,possible for me. A 20-year whisful thinking came through.

    Guys at eslpod, how you guys initially came up with the whole idea is totally beyond me.

    You guys have a higher class of brain than me.

    Cheers !

  10. Peter Says:

    Dear lucy,
    I appriciate the word “rumpled” I didn’t know the use of it in the concept.

    You got me at that and countless other things.

    Thank you ,sis

    A huge fan ,Peter

  11. Dr. Lucy Tse Says:

    I’m glad to see other Columbo fans here! While Columbo is my favorite American TV detective, like valdemar, my favorite British detective is Hercule Poirot, played by David Suchet in the BBC Masterpiece Mystery! series.

    David Suchet is brilliant in this role and Hercule Poirot has similarities to Columbo. Poirot is from Belgium and lives in London. He is “fastidious” (gives a lot of attention to neatness, details, and accuracy), has a funny-looking mustache, and dresses with his own unique style. HIs unusual ways and appearance make him seem “comical” (funny; easy to laugh at) to some people who, like those who encounter Columbo, underestimate his brilliant detective mind. If you put Columbo and Poirot on the same case, I’m not sure who would “come out on top” (be the winner; be the most successful). I would like to think that they would solve the mystery at exactly the same time, though with very different methods.

  12. Betty Says:

    Oh, thank you, Valdemar, you are right, Hercule Poirot by David Suchet is very good as well. Now I remember, I used to watch this TV program.

    I thought David Suchet had a very funny English accent, I did not know he was a Belgian.

  13. Dan Says:

    Hi hubert!

    I heard of that Italian tv series but I have never actually seen it. It is a pleasure getting to know that it has succeded in Poland.

    I do not you guys, but one of the things I like about Columbo is that it’s not the usually series where there is lots of violence
    and guns.

    And when he gets irritating? love that.

    Thanks Lucy! I did not know the adj. “fastidious” I am sometimes fastidious like, when I see dust on my black laptop. It gets on my nerves!
    Or, when a stone gets stuck in the tire and as you drive you hear: Tic Tic Tic Tic… I stop the car and get rid of the damn thing…

    Bye Guys!

  14. hubert Says:

    Dan, the reason of modulated noise in car comes really from wheels but shingle is not a reason. Look, circumference of a wheel is radius multiplied by 2 and by pi. Pi is 3 and piece. Ahd the piece makes a noise. Unfortunately you cannot remove it :-)

    Talking about TV detectives I remember scene from Benny Hill show. Someone ask him today’s question: “Who is your favorite cop”? He answered: “Kojumbo: compilation of Kojak and Columbo”. Reporter inquires: “Your hero used to lick lollipops or wear dirty coat”? “Used to lick dirty coat” answers Benny.

  15. Peter Says:

    Holly cow!!!
    Lucy , I own the whole 8 or 9 series of Herclu Poirot. I have watched them like million times. Man , it is one fine TV shows.
    Hey,
    “You do it,and you will thank me later” is the catch phrase of Herclu Poirot. His performance is flawless, in fact he won a lot of awards for his performance.
    One question thought, If he is from Belguim , how come he doesn’t have any accent , what so ever. Now , I m jelous.
    You know, I m totally obsessed with this accent thing.
    I m totally self concieous about my accent. I hate it !!

    Man,we have the same taste in Tv shows , Lucy.

    It is cool to see u down here among us , let me tell you did, it is good for morale that we have people from upstairs here with us from time to time :))

    Yours
    Damn , ealpod adds excitment to my life.

    A Nomad:))

  16. Peter Says:

    Guys, I meant the remake of hercule Poirot
    Not the old one,
    The new one is a broad shoulder medium built guy who is pathologically clean
    And fastidious
    He is a stickler for details
    It is an American tv shows
    But I have seem all the episods of old Poirot too ,in English.
    Betty ,he does have biritish accent
    I like it south , I have seem all the episodes 4 or 5 times
    I know some of its diologs by heart.

  17. Dr. Lucy Tse Says:

    Just a quick clarification of my comment. David Suchet, the actor, is English. The character he plays, Hercule Poirot, is Belgian and speaks with a French accent. In fact, that is a “running joke” (joke made again and again); he is often mistaken for a Frenchman and he doesn’t like it at all. I remember reading that the British author Agatha Christie who created the character Hercule Poirot for her mystery novels “lamented” (expressed regret) that she made her popular character Belgian because she knew nothing about the country of Belgium and was asked about it all the time!

    Okay, enough from me on this topic…at least for now. It’s back to work, but it’s wonderful to see the mention of so many other TV detectives I’ve also enjoyed watching. It’s like “a walk down memory lane” (remember pleasant past events).

  18. emiliano Says:

    I like absolutely David Sutchet role as Hercules Poirot, having in mind this role was
    made also by other good actors as Peter Ustinov who also made a good one.

    I am never tired of watching H.Poirot movies based on Agatha Christie novels.
    It is like a lesson about human sins and ambitions.

    I scarcely could remember Colombo as I was quite young when the movies where
    in the air but I could say he was quite peculiar always with his rain coat garment.
    ———
    I am going through a strong treatment to be alright from an old desease and
    this treatment take me off all my strenghts. No humor to write but I read all the
    Blog Post.
    I hope that soon I could be here again with new renovated ideas.

    Thank you friends, all my best to every one of you.

    emiliano

  19. Betty Says:

    Dear emiliano

    I have to use exactly the same name you use in this blog to distinguish which ‘Emiliano’ I am talking to. We have two Emiliano in one blog!

    I am sorry to hear that you had been unwell and had to undergo treatment.

    Thank you for writing to us even when you were not well.

    Take care and have a speedy recovery.

    Best Regards

    Betty

    ***********

    Thank you for clarifying about David Suchet for us. So the funny English accent was pretended.

    Like my older daughters speaks English with a Scottish accent, you really thought it was a Scottish speaking if you do not see her.

    I have not read the book Poirot by Agatha Christie, that’s why I did not know why the funny accent.

    Now I remember seeing David Suchet on the TV screen with a normal English accent.

    As Lucy says, it’s like “a walk down memory lane” (remember pleasant past events).

    Thanks again to every one.

    Betty :)

  20. sirjoe777 Says:

    Dear Lucy,
    I loved “il tenente Colombo” when I was young, and now my daughter too (19) she loves
    the Columbo series she watched either in Italian or in English: everytime, after few seconds,
    she recognizes the whole episode! It’s a sort of legacy, isn’t it?
    I would suggest two new BBC series I’m watching with her in English nowadays:
    “Life on Mars” and “The Murphy’s law”. Particularly the first series is recommanded
    for people who like much the music of the 70s.
    Sergio
    P.S. Only tiny problems about the language: in the first series they speak the Mancunian
    accent, in the second Murphy himself is an Irish policeman: who knows what he’s saying…

  21. lilian Says:

    Like many of our friend i like monsieur poiroit, he is concerned about his appearance and conceited about his special gift ,he never care being insulted since he has a superb selfconfidence.He never give up and always sail through.thx lucy.lili