On at least one occasion in the past, The Rap Sheet has employed, as artwork, the cover from the November 26, 1973, edition of Time magazine. You know, the one with the headline “TV’s Year of the Cop.” But only recently did I realize I still own a copy of that issue of Time, with its longish profile of Columbo’s Peter Falk.
The magazine offers an interesting trip down memory lane. Inside are stories about President Richard M. Nixon’s counterattacks on the press for its reporting on the Watergate scandal, the “simply splendid” wedding of Britain’s Princess Anne, and America’s energy economy, plus a review of Arthur M. Schlesinger’s then just-released book, The Imperial Presidency (a bargain in hardcover at only $10!).
But from this blog’s vantage point, the most valuable article was Time’s six-page look at the growing crop of TV crime dramas.
Columbo was then prospering in its third year as part of The NBC Mystery Movie, joined on the airwaves by Hec Ramsey, Banacek, The Snoop Sisters, Kojak, Hawkins, Griff, Police Story, Shaft, The New Perry Mason, and myriad other such series. Time name-checked all of those, and many more, though it concentrated on Columbo. In a sidebar, the magazine asked genuine lawmen for their opinions on how on-screen crime solving compared with reality, and it concluded its coverage with Falk’s prediction for the future of sleuth shows. “I don’t think the trend’s going to last very long,” Falk remarked. Sadly, he was right. That latest heyday of TV cop and detective shows petered out during the 1980s. Today’s crime dramas aren’t so novel or numerous as what viewers were offered 30 and 40 years ago.
Because--unlike me--most Rap Sheet readers probably don’t have this classic issue of Time lying about in their basement, I’m going to embed the cover (illustrated by Norma Wasserman) and cover story below. You can open each page in a new window for easy viewing.