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Barney Miller: Fan Favorites [DVD]

Release Date:09/29/2009
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    Ratings & Reviews

    Overall Customer Rating:
    100% of customers would recommend this product to a friend (3 out of 3)

    Special Features

    • Closed Captioned


    The third season of Barney Miller was where the series fully hit its stride in the writing and directing, now with its entire core cast falling into place. Captain Barney Miller (Hal Linden), the head of the 12th Precinct detective squad; Det. Philip Fish (Abe Vigoda), the senior member of the squad, with a lot of years of service behind him and retirement starting to beckon; Fish's patient, philosophical wife Bernice (Florence Stanley); Det. Stan "Wojo" Wojciehowicz (Max Gail), a young detective of very dogged personality; Det. Sgt. Nick Yemana (Jack Soo), another veteran of the force, and a habitual gambler in his off-hours; Inspector Frank Lugar (James Gregory, the squad's unofficial liason with 1 Police Plaza; and Det. Ron Harris (Ron Glass), the educated, ambitious African-American investigator, whose eyes always seem to be on ambitions beyond his immediate job. All were still present, along with a new regular, Det. Arthur Dietrich (Steve Landesberg), highly-educated, somewhat mysterious and multi-talented, as well as possessed of a wry wit. Dietrich quickly became one of the most popular characters in a squad room contingent already filled with memorable portrayals; additionally, in retrospect, one must wonder if the conception of Dietrich, and his portrayal by Landesberg, an experienced stand-up comic, didn't exert some influence on the conception of the character of Detective John Munch, as portrayed by comic Richard Belzer on the series Homicide: Life On The Street and Law & Order, SVU, two decades later. And another new addition was Officer Carl Levitt (Ron Carey), a somewhat diminutive uniformed officer from downstairs who, in addition to relaying paperwork to the detectives, would occasionally, as manpower shortage demanded, get assigned to assist them on cases -- for the next several seasons, it was a running joke whenever Levitt was allowed to work in plainclothes, both in terms of the significance he attached to it and his desire to become a detective. All of the characters were drawn more deeply, with a lot more background, in this season, especially Fish (Abe Vigoda), whose home-life figured more than any of the other squad members (and would eventually be spun off, with Vigoda and Stanley, into their own series, Fish. Max Gail's Wojo and his background as a Vietnam veteran with some issues, introduced in the second season, also figured bigger in this season, especially in the episode "Group Home" when a US Army recruiting sergeant (George Murdoch), at the precinct on un-related business, tries to persuade him to re-enlist, an offer that the detective emphatically declines. This made Barney Miller one of the earliest series to at least broach the subject of Vietnam veterans and their peculiar and particular problems and sensibilities -- and this series did it more sensitively and gently than a lot of other television shows and movies, where Vietnam vets were too often depicted as badly adjusted or even dangerous individuals; Wojo might not be the brightest or most educated man on the squad -- any education he might have gotten was, undoubtedly, interrupted by being drafted -- but he is also one of the most dedicated and good-natured members of the squad, even if he doesn't pretend to have the answers to every question he encounters in life or his job. The literary aspirations of Ron Glass's Detective Harris, clearly a nod to the then-current success of author Joseph Wambaugh, also get explored. And Nick Yemana's background as a Japanese American who lived through World War II and internment, is also strongly alluded to. In other words, the series was a comedy with a lot of heart and a serious edge, and actor-turned-director Noam Pitlik, who helmed 102 episodes of the series, captured the intended tone perfectly. All of this helped loft the series into the top 20 programs on the air for this season, placing at number 17, a huge jump from the previous season's number 38 showing and light-years in front of the abbreviated debut season's number 70 mark. Additionally, the series began to take on a special place in the hearts of real-life law enforcement personnel around the country, as one of the more realistic depictions of "the job" ever to make it to network television. But it still found room for lots of comedy -- one of the funniest episodes in the run of the show was {#"The Werewolf"}, in which the detectives lock up a man ({$Kenneth Tigar}) who believes he is a werewolf; and another was {#"Hash"}, in which the detectives unknowingly consume brownies laced with a . . . controlled substance, which causes the aging Detective Fish to perform some unexpected athletic feats in the course of pursuing a suspect. ~ Bruce Eder

    Cast & Crew

    • Hal Linden - Capt. Barney Miller
    • Maxwell Gail - Det. Stanley `Wojo' Wojohowicz
    • Ron Glass - Det. Ron Harris
    • James Gregory - Insp. Frank Luger
    • Gregory Sierra - Det. Sgt. Chano Amenguale

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