By Gillian Flynn
August 29, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT
Lansbury: Photofest

Why we shamelessly love old people who solve TV mysteries

You liver-spotted, nimble-brained purveyors of justice, I salute you! You unravel the misdeeds of guest stars from Fisher Stevens to Abe Vigoda. You give your TV exploits wickedly intriguing names like ”Murder Takes the Bus.” You are elderly and wily. Columbo, as played by Peter Falk, you are a rumpled, raincoated faux bumbler who I suspect smells like old cheese and spittoons. I praise your cunning. Dick Van Dyke, on ”Diagnosis Murder” you amiably outwit bad people and sometimes tap-dance. If your show weren’t canceled, I’d suggest the following dialogue. Guest star: ”What’s the diagnosis, Doc?” You: ”Murder! No, just kidding, it’s shingles!” I eat your just desserts. Mr. Tom Bosley, I’ve never seen a full episode of your program, ”Father Dowling Mysteries,” but I have seen parts of the same episode 12 times. It’s called ”The Monkey Business Mystery” and features a chimp accused of…murder! Do you find the real killer or does Monkey get the needle? Either way, I approbate you. And finally, Jessica Fletcher/Angela Lansbury (pictured), you daring doyenne of Cabot Cove, you writer who writes murder in the past tense: No matter where you go, you find friends, foul play, and former ”Love Boat” regulars. You have all taught me a very important lesson: I will never kill near a retirement village.