1968: Columbo and Hawaii Five-O – Detectives With Different Modus Operandi

Peter Falk as Columbo


Peter Falk as Frank Columbo usually investigated crimes alone. He drove a beat up looking Peugeot and arrived at crime scenes looking, as if he had just got out of bed and had slept in his overcoat. Columbo had bad hair days every day, since there was never a hair in place.

I have seen a lot of Columbo episodes, but can’t recall him ever pulling a gun on anyone. He makes a general nuisance of himself, while investigating crimes and the prime suspects usually either hate him with a passion, or enjoy trying to outsmart Columbo.

The criminals seem to have committed the perfect crime, but Columbo doesn’t take long to unravel the perfect crime. He uncovers some key piece of evidence or fact, that causes the prime suspect to be on edge, especially when they sense that Columbo is close to solving the crime.

Columbo made an art of exiting a room, only to re-enter the room for one more question. Columbo is a very low-key detective and often mentions that Mrs. Columbo likes the criminal, if she has read a book or seen the prime suspect on television. However, I have yet to see Mrs. Columbo in any episode.

Lieutenant Columbo is not your average detective. He just keeps plugging away until he solves the crime and returns to question the prime suspect repeatedly, which usually infuriates the suspect.

Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett


Jack Lord who portrays Steve McGarrett is the polar opposite of Columbo. He wears suits that look like they just came off the rack, from the best men’s clothes designers in Hawaii. He is never seen smoking like Columbo and has been known to pull a gun on a criminal if needed.

McGarrett unlike Columbo has a few assistants, while Columbo worked almost alone exclusively. McGarrett is a decisive detective, that wants things done yesterday. He also has to answer to the governor, which Columbo never had to worry about.

Another difference between the two detectives is that McGarrett is captured by the criminals, like the episode in which Wo Fat the master criminal places McGarrett underwater. Today’s episode showed McGarrett and others in his office being the target of a bomb. The bad guy sneaks into the hospital and fires several shots into what he thought was Garrett. However, he is captured by Danny Williams and McGarrett is shown in a closet, after having seeing the criminal pump lead into him a few minutes earlier.

Lord liked Hawaii so much, that he lived there for the rest of his life and suffered with Alzheimer’s disease, before his death.



Columbo and Hawaii Five-O may have used different modus operandi, but the results at the end of the show were the same, with the culprits headed to prison. Columbo looked disheveled, while McGarrett looked like he walked out of a catalog for men’s clothes. Columbo had a comedy flair to it, while Hawaii Five-O was a no-nonsense no hold barred detective show.

Hawaii Five-O was a fast paced show, while Columbo took his time solving crimes and seemed to be in no hurry to solve the crime.

Both shows started being shown on television 46 years ago, but they are both as much fun, to watch all these years later, as they were when they were first seen.

One thing both shows had in common was they were both entertaining and captured the interest of the viewer from the first scene to the last scene.


Author: Andrew Godfrey

Retired from newspaper work after 38 years. Had served in the Army in Hawaii and Vietnam in the 60's. Am now retired and living in Sulphur, Louisiana.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s