Fridge / Columbo

Fridge Brilliance
  • It's odd that the series always begins by showing the murder being committed at the beginning, showing who did it before the mystery started! It completely takes away from the concept of following the detective through the case, trying to figure out who the murderer was. But on reflection, the series isn't supposed to be from Lt. Columbo's perspective, but from the killer's perspective. The killer is the star of his/her own episode. We are shown why they are driven to kill their victim, and sometimes we even sympathize with the killer. We feel the same anxiety that they do when Columbo gets closer and closer to pinning the crime on them. And, most importantly, it makes it impossible for the writer to pull an impossible reveal out of their ass at the end.This means that the star of the show, the hero the audience is expected to root for, is not the protagonist but the antagonist.
  • Why does Columbo always run his theories by the murderer? Making them sweat is fun, but it also tips them off and makes them much more likely to try and cover their tracks. So why take the risk? Consider that all the evidence he brings them is circumstantial. He is making sure that he has a rock-solid case that no one can disprove, and he tests it by bringing it to the murderer. Who would be more interested in disproving his case than the person who did it? Furthermore, more than once, the murderer not only confirms Columbo's suspicions, but screws themselves over by leaving actual usable evidence in the process of covering up their earlier unusable evidence!
  • Columbo doesn't always solve the case with conviction-ascertained evidence. We don't see it go to trial, so we don't know if there's a conviction. But he does at least one of three things... 1. Throws somebody's alibi into doubt - so, why did they lie, exactly? 2. Proves it wasn't a suicide or that the current accused isn't the real perp - time to go back and take a look at this new suspect. 3. Tells this smug wealthy arrogant guy that he's not as smart as some scruffy, stumbling detective - some give in just from shame. ...Thusly the perp can be expecting the 'boring' part; a call from Columbo's buddies in forensics who now have the right to double back through every fraction of the crime-scene, his house and his life with a fine-tooth-comb and turn up the real evidence - a tiny spot of blood, a hair, a fired gun. His other pals will be interviewing people who will testify his character and motives... Other guys will be digging up any potential witnesses who were just passers-by... Frankly, the perp might as well enter their plea now and get some time off for it.
  • "Forgotten Lady" makes a big deal of Janet Leigh's career as a dancer in numerous musical films, but completely omits any reference to Psycho... until you realize that she murdered her husband by going temporarily psychotic from her neurological condition, which, much in the way Norman Bates couldn't remember his own killings, also forced her to forget she'd committed the crime and assumed that he'd shot himself.