Poker Face art teams Natasha Lyonne’s human lie detector Charlie with Peter Falk’s classic detective Columbo. Rian Johnson brought back the whodunit movie with his sly and comedic murder mystery films Knives Out and Glass Onion. Now the acclaimed writer-director is doing the same for the classic TV detective show, with his hit Peacock series Poker Face, starring Lyonne as a seemingly average person who possesses the superpower to always know when people are lying.
In celebration of Johnson’s accomplishment with Poker Face, artist Readful Things has unleashed a new image that brings Lyonne’s Charlie together with her greatest TV inspiration, Lieutenant Columbo.
As can be seen above, Johnson himself took to Twitter to express his appreciation for the art, posting “Holy holy” in response to the image. Currently holding down a 98% score on Rotten Tomatoes while finally giving Peacock a buzzworthy original show, Poker Face is indeed well on its way to re-establishing the detective genre on the small screen as Johnson hoped. But back in the day, Columbo was the state-of-the-art when it came to TV detective stories, thanks in large part to its lead actor Falk.
How Columbo Inspired Poker Face
Poker Face creator Johnson has spoken extensively about his love of murder mystery writers like Agatha Christie, and how their works – and the films made from their works – inspired his own yarns like Knives Out and the recent sequel Glass Onion. While trying to bring back the classic TV detective story however, Johnson naturally turned to a small screen inspiration in Columbo. But it wasn’t so much the mystery side of Columbo that turned Johnson on. Rather, it was the idea of centering a mystery show on a charismatic lead performer whom the audience wants to root for. As Johnson told Screen Rant recently:
More than that though, the great characters like James Garner as Rockford or Tom Selleck as Magnum Pi or Falk as Columbo—those shows were more hangout shows than anything else. You didn’t really tune in for the mystery. You tuned in to hang out with Falk. And so when I became friends with Natasha and realized she could be that for a show, I got really, really excited. That’s where the whole thing started.
Shows like Columbo of course were mystery-of-the-week stories that did not concern themselves with ongoing arcs. Today however, the emphasis in prestige TV is on serialized stories. But Johnson chose to buck this big current-day trend by making each Poker Face episode self-contained, defying the binge model of TV releasing by encouraging viewers to not devour the entire season in one go. This approach received a lot of pushback from binge-model-fixated TV execs, but as Johnson explained to THR, he finally convinced Peacock to go with his old school storytelling style:
And I just kept coming back and hammering the notion that all the shows that I grew up watching were not about the cliffhanger at the end. They were about wanting to come back to hang out with this character that you love and see them win, and that’s equally addictive. And it’s also something I miss, and I bet a lot of people also miss.
Will Poker Face Get A Season 2
The widespread positive reception for Poker Face would seem to indicate that audiences and critics do indeed miss the old-fashioned episodic approach to TV as much as Johnson does. But will that translate into Poker Face receiving an order for season 2? Peacock has not yet asked for a second season, but it seems inevitable that the renewal will come. And if Poker Face season 2 does indeed happen, Johnson has already revealed his dream guest star, telling Screen Rant he’d love Jamie Lee Curtis to appear. Hopefully, Johnson will get a chance to unleash more Columbo-inspired mystery TV with Poker Face season 2.
Source: Readful Things/Twitter