When I told a colleague years ago that I loved Columbo, his response was a snort: “Columbo. He’s all shtick.”
And yes, that’s why Columbo was so successful. Not because of the innovative inverted story telling; that’s just a convention. Not because of the cleverness of the crimes: the cleverness was variable, and much of the time too clever by half. Not because of trying to work out the incriminating evidence: you’d never convict on Columbo’s evidence much of the time, if it wasn’t for the culprits’ relief in confessing.
But because of the mischievous mind games that Columbo’s shtick involved, and the not too subtle class struggle they embodied.
Seeing a gruff, yelling Columbo with a pressed suit in the pilot is quite the shock…