I have a tremendous amount of affection for Peter Falk and the legendary Lt. Columbo. The run of NBC episodes in the 1970s rank as my personal favorite mystery series of all time. The combination of the writing, the strength of the guest actors and Falk's own quirky performance all helped to make the show a classic.
That's why it pains me to say it, but "Columbo" jumped the shark with the 1989 and onward revival series on ABC. Several things are wrong with the new series, and most of them can be seen in the premiere, "Columbo Goes to the Guillotine." For one thing, the shows have been padded out to a runtime of about 90 minutes, versus the 70 minutes for the older shows. Notice I said "padded," because that is exactly what these longer shows are - stretched for time and a 2 hour format. The result is slow pacing, which was never a problem before. Next is the caliber of the guest stars. While Anthony Andrews is alright, he does not have the gravitas and charisma of some of the original's best killers. This problem would be replicated with less-than-compelling actors (Fisher Stevens, George Wendt, etc.) popping up over the run of the revival. And finally, we have Peter Falk. Falk always kept Columbo with a sense of humor, but here he has gone too far to the extreme and we have a detective who is downright goofy, if not borderline senile. We see none of the edge of the old Columbo, and it's easy for suspects to write him off, because his behavior is so inappropriate. Columbo would get embarassed as a fish out of water, but now he's just a fool. It's similar to the transformation of Adrian Monk from quietly suffering to loud nincompoop over the run of his show.
Stick with the NBC classics. The fact that Universal has yet to release any more of the new episodes on DVD may be an indication that fans prefer vintage "Columbo" as well.