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Just one more thing

If only I'd known that in 1981, my family might still be speaking to me

PETER EDGERTON

Friday, 13 August 2021, 15:23

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Whenever anyone mentions the film The Blues Brothers, I find myself overcome by a vague sense of nausea. This isn't because it's a particularly bad film - although it is - rather the fact that, for reasons I still haven't been able to identify with any clarity, I chose it when it was my turn to pick something from the video rental shop for a family film night many moons ago. I was never quite forgiven for wasting everyone's precious time, although a cousin of mine selecting Tootsie when it was her turn a few months later, did take the heat off somewhat, I must say.

The paragraph above, to anyone under the age of Methuselah, probably reads like an ancient parable written on papyrus but such was our lot in 1981. Now, of course, we have Netflix offering choices so wide-ranging that it's eminently feasible to spend a whole hour perusing all of the possibilities available before remembering that said possibilities are all really rather rubbish. Unless, that is, your preferred genre of entertainment is something with 'drug lord', 'cocaine' or 'cocaine drug lord' in the title, in which case you have a veritable cornucopia of delight at your fingertips.

A few days ago, owing to a couple of cancelled music classes, I found myself with an hour or two to spare and decided to give Netflix yet another chance. After forty five minutes of fruitless searching for something not set in Colombia, I gave up, vaguely recalling that there was a website I'd discovered during lockdown where you can watch episodes of the 1970's detective series, Columbo.

What an inspired idea. I'd forgotten just how clever these stories are. The basic premise is that some rich, spoilt person in Beverly Hills bumps off somebody else, usually motivated by greed and/or jealousy and then our scruffy, cigar-chomping hero shuffles onto the scene to pick away doggedly at their defences until they're left banged to rights and are ceremoniously carted off the slammer with their hitherto smug expression wiped cleanly from their face.

For all of their sweeping drone camera shots and post-production miracles, none of the current crop of series or films that I have seen can hold a candle to the simple, magical story-telling on offer in any given episode of Columbo.

If only I'd known that in 1981, my family might still be speaking to me.

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