57. COLUMBO 

Created by Richard Levinson & William Link  

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Aired: NBC, 1971-1976; ABC, 1989-1993

As a writing team, Richard Levinson and William Link were an anomaly, given that they started writing together in junior high. ''I think we were the oldest team in Hollywood,'' Link told The New York Times, shortly after Levinson’s death in 1987, at age 52. The duo was responsible for the series Mannix, Ellery Queen, and Murder, She Wrote. With Columbo, they gave audiences arguably the most beloved detective in the history of series television – a character as inwardly canny as he was outwardly muddled. Asked in 1995 by radio interviewer Terry Gross what the part of Columbo was like when he first read it, star Peter Falk said: “It was very good. It was somebody that I immediately wanted to play. The basic thrust of a guy appearing less than he actually is, that was always there. That disarming quality of not ever appearing formidable was always there.”

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