In 1976 a New York media group conducted a survey of the NYPD detectives. The question was: “Of all the TV cop shows, which most accurately portrays life as a detective?” The overwhelming response was the comedy Barney Miller.
It seems that real cops related to the daily grind and weekly wackos of Barney Miller. Let’s not put aside that this was also one of the most consistently funny shows on television. I remember it took me a while to accept Abe Vigoda in such a light role as Fish. My first exposure to Vigoda was the ruthless mobster in The Godfather. Barney Miller always managed to be funny while still telling a good short story. The characters were always wonderful. In Season 1 we will not meet the famous Dietrich character, but it was a joy to see the briefly shown detective Chano played by Sanford and Son’s Julio, Gregory Sierra. Unfortunately there were only 13 episodes in the first season, but they’re all here in this two-disc set.
This was mid-1970’s TV, so don’t expect too much here. The Dolby Digital Mono audio does its job. Dialogue is really all there is to this show, and it is carried clearly throughout. The famous bass solo intro sounds as good as it ever did on those mono sets of the 1970’s.
Obviously we’re talking full frame format here. I must say that I have collected quite a few 70’s sitcoms on DVD by now, and Barney Miller has the best transfer to date. Most 70’s video has severe color run problems. I’m not sure if time or the original production is to blame. Barney Miller appears more solid in all aspects. Look for a relatively steady picture in each episode.
The only show-related extra is a group of text bios called TVographies. Menus are standard static with catchy green handcuffs as selection markers.
These were the days when watching Barney didn’t involve a purple dinosaur. I really liked this show. This is one of those treasure chest gems that I look forward to on DVD release schedules. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry (when you run out of episodes), and you’ll be waiting for a fuller season 2 to get the DVD nod. Barney Miller, while often topical, was able to stay timeless. The DVD cover tells us that while crime doesn’t pay, it can be funny. So far no word on further seasons of the show. If they don’t come soon, “Now that’s criminal”.