Tim Vine recreates Columbo
Columbo fan and comedian Tim Vine has re-created a number of scenes from various episodes of the famous TV series, often filmed in his own backyard and the local park. For those who know the series the scene parodies are exceptionally funny. All of the extracts contain the exact dialogue from a particular episode scene.
The TV series ‘Columbo’ was admired and watched all over the world. The popularity of Columbo was in the character, beautifully played by Peter Falk. This seventies & nineties TV detective made Falk an international star unable to go anywhere in the world without being recognised, such was the impact of the character. Tim Vine (co-star BBC series ‘Not Going Out’ 2006-2012 with Lee Mack) says. ‘You never seem to get bored watching them (episodes) over again. Unlike many other TV shows.’ The Columbo magic is hard to define. It’s a combination of things but mostly it’s the character and Falk’s outstanding performances.
Not Peter Falk?
Peter Falk was not the first choice. The character of TV Columbo was created by the writing team Richard Levinson and William Link, who originally wanted Bing Crosby to play the part. The Columbo character first appeared on stage in 1962 in Prescription: Murder with Thomas Mitchell in the role of Columbo. In 2010, Prescription: Murder was revived for a tour of the United Kingdom with Dirk Benedict and later John Guerrasio as Columbo. The play formed the basis of the TV pilot shot in 1968. Where Gene Barry played the killer and Peter Falk Columbo for the first time.
The uniqueness of the series was unlike other cop shows. The series revealed the murderer at the top of the programme. We then watch the bedraggled detective in his famous raincoat work out the clues, which eventually brings him to arrest the victim’s killer. What’s just as famous are Columbo’s tactics of forgetfulness, politeness, domestic chit-chat which can go on for ever. ‘Can you get to the point?’ Is another famous phrase given to the killer as Columbo rambles on. Stephen Fry said. ‘The villain underestimates him every time, and that moment of ‘I may have underestimated you’ is such a pleasing moment.” Columbo physicality was not tall or macho simply a very down to earth guy. Everyone in life has at some time met a Columbo.
Tim started watching the series as an adult while visiting his parents. ‘It always seemed to be on, when I went round to visit’ said Tim. Who plays all the characters himself, in his recreations. As well as directing, producing and even prop maker. He became a regular at his local charity shop. Sorting through the items and clothing for potential props for his films. His hobby became an abstention. Tim’s comedy followers who knew the series found his recreations hilarious. Although to appreciate them, you really need to know the series.
Tim wrote Peter Falk fan mail. But it was actress Lee Grant guest star in ‘Ransom for a Dead Man’ (1971) who responded to Tim’s work. Congratulating him. Delighted people were still watching and enjoying them. Tim’s favourite episodes are ‘Swan Song’ (1974) with Johnny Cash, ‘A Stich in Crime’ (1973) with Leonard Nimoy and ‘Any Old Port in a Storm’ (1973) with Donald Pleasance. Each one has received the Vine Columbo treatment. The actual character of Columbo doesn’t appear in all of Tim’s recreations. ‘It’s sometimes nice just to play the villain.’ He says.
Tim bought an old Peugeot car similar to Columbo’s. His ambition was to turn it into an identical model but things didn’t go according to plan. It’s sitting there awaiting attention. Tim has compiled scenes from 20 of the 69 series episodes. His ambition is to do them all. The problem for Tim is finding the time. He is currently touring along with hosting corporate awards up and down the country and is a regular at the Edinburgh Festival. Having won the fringe funniest joke competition twice (2010 & 2014) and runner up on three occasions (2011, 2012 & 2013). In 2004, Tim broke the Guinness World Record for the most jokes told in an hour with 499. Each joke had to get a laugh from the paying audience to count towards the total.
Matthew Willetts MA is the Director of Comicus who has over 35 years experience in television, film, theatre, and comedy club/cabaret entertainment, working as a performer, screenwriter, producer and agent. He’s lectured at University in Comedy, Screenwriting, Television, Theatre & Radio. Matthew can sometimes be seen and heard on TV & Radio and often quoted in the national press and media publications. As well as speaking regularly at festivals and industry conferences. He has been a judge at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Montreux Television Festival.
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