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Barney Miller: The Complete Series

4.8 out of 5 stars 310 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description


The sprawling, 25-disc presentation of Barney Miller: The Complete Series pays proper and long-overdue tribute to what is arguably one of the best sitcoms ever produced on television. All 168 episodes of the groundbreaking series, which ran between 1974 and 1982, are included in the set, as are a respectable, if not abundant, number of extras. But bells and whistles cannot improve upon Miller's chief attribute--the humor and humanity inherent in each episode, which detailed the life of a police captain (Hal Linden) at New York's dreary 12th Precinct, which was populated by a squad of offbeat but hardworking detectives. Time has not dampened the show's smart, honest writing by series creators Danny Arnold and Theodore J. Flicker, among many others, or the theater-quality acting of Linden and the talented cast, which began with Abe Vigoda, Ron Glass, Max Gail, and Jack Soo before adding Steve Landesberg and Ron Carey in season four. As with other blue-collar "workplace" shows like M*A*S*H, Hill Street Blues, and St. Elsewhere, viewers came to care about the characters (real-life police, in particular, applauded the show's portrayal of working law officers) because they accurately reflected the steady, unyielding stream of joys and heartbreak that made up every day in a job where people's lives were at stake, and how that experience affected the personalities that worked there. Barney Miller was a rare series, one that has not been duplicated (though emulated by shows like Rescue Me and Homicide: Life on the Street) or, thankfully, remade, and this impressive set from Shout Factory serves as its best and most complete presentation to date.

Like the show itself, the extras on The Complete Series are heartfelt and often hilarious. Series writer-producers Tony Sheehan, Jeff Stein, and Frank Dungan, all of whom continued to collaborate on series like Mr. Belvedere and King of Queens, are featured on commentary tracks for the show's final three-part episode, "Landmark," which concerned the closing of the 12th Precinct. The commentaries are informal but informative--the show's notorious late shoots and last-minute rewrites are discussed--and often very funny. Stein and Dungan also appear on a trio of overlapping making-of featurettes that additionally include new interviews with Linden, Gail, and Vigoda. More important to Miller completists will be the entire original pilot, "The Life and Times of Captain Barney Miller," which aired on an ABC comedy anthology series in 1974. Linden and Vigoda are featured in a cast that includes Charles Haid (Hill Street Blues) among the One-Two's detectives. The complete version of the series pilot, "Ramon," which essentially tells the same story as "Life and Times," is also included in an uncut version that adds two minutes of footage. In addition, there's an excerpt from You Don't Know Jack, a 2009 documentary about Jack Soo that includes interviews with Landesberg and Gail about their well-loved fellow actor whom the entire cast feted in a special 1979 episode (included in the set). For many, the set's curiosity piece is the first season of Fish, the short-lived spinoff series that featured Vigoda's character riding herd on a quintet of foster children (including Todd Bridges of Diff'rent Strokes). The 13 episodes included here are largely laugh-free affairs and the complete antithesis to the intelligent comedy of Barney Miller. Image quality on many episodes remains as murky as they appeared on the three stand-alone DVD releases from Sony, though this is the case with shows created on videotape rather than film. Such issues, however, should not prevent fans and newcomers alike from spending quality time with the men of the 12th Precinct. --Paul Gaita

Special Features

32-page commemorative book

New interviews with cast (Linden, Gail, Vigoda)

First season of the spin-off show, Fish, starring Abe Vigoda

Original unaired pilot

Writers commentary on select episodes

Product Details

  • Actors: Hal Linden, Max Gail, Ron Glass, Steve Landesberg, Ron Carey
  • Directors: Noam Pitlik
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 25
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Shout! Factory
  • DVD Release Date: October 25, 2011
  • Run Time: 4440 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (310 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005BUA1JY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,717 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
UPDATE: Because my "review" keeps popping up first, here's a real one now. Hope it helps. (I'll leave an edited potion of my original post at the end.)

Got an early Christmas gift this month. Essentially raised on Barney Miller, I had a couple of lost weekends after the complete series landed on my porch. Here's what I got on Shout's treatment of my favorite series....

The First Three Seasons--Unfortunately, Shout! Factory used what Sony created for their season sets; other than the packaging, they're the exact same discs, menus and all. That means the first season still looks woeful and that two of its episodes (Ramon and The Bureaucrat) are the syndicated cuts. However, Shout has included a complete version of Ramon with the extras (Harris in drag!). The video quality of that version is pretty bad, which should indicate the kind of job Shout faced in getting complete episodes. Which brings me to....

Completeness of Episodes--I wish I could say that Seasons 4 to 8 are complete, but one episode--Season 7's Rachel, the one in which Harris is sued for libel for Blood on the Badge--is about 2 minutes short, indicating a syndication cut. Given that Shout managed to find a complete Ramon, it's entirely possible that no complete version of Rachel (or The Bureaucrat) currently exists. The last episode of the series, in fact, comes with a warning because it was taken from the last surviving complete version. But it's still watchable, and while the other episodes do show varying video quality, sometimes even within the same episode, most look as good as or better than you can hope for with a three-decades-old videotaped series. Shout also has avoided the excessive edge enhancement that plagues Seasons 2 and 3.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Looks like I am the first reviewer here on Amazon to have actually viewed these discs, so hopefully people will find my initial reactions useful.

So much has been said about the series itself I won't repeat any of it here. Just be assured that Barney Miller is one of the best written, best acted sitcoms (or any TV series for that matter) ever. I've seen every episode multiple times and have been collecting recordings of this show on commercially available VHS tapes, broadcast sources, and DVDs for many years. So I was very glad to see Shout Factory pick up the baton where Sony left off and release the show as it should have been from the beginning, as a complete series set.

I have not seen all the episodes in this set yet, but the ones I have seen run about 25 minutes instead of the 22-minute syndicated versions most often seen on TV since the show's original run. The picture quality is great for a TV series shot on video in the 1970s. About as good as it possibly can look, I'm sure. Sound quality is excellent. The packaging is very well done, tasteful, and discs are NOT stacked on top of each other on a single spindle as many of these mega-sets have been packaged recently. The 40-page book has a nice few pages of intro but the rest is essentially an episode guide for each season and disc.

The extras and supplements are great. There are about an hour and a half worth of shorts featuring Hal Linden, Max Gail, Abe Vigoda, and two of the writers. These are well worth watching. For me the real treat in the extras was the unaired pilot episode of "The Life and Times of Barney Miller" which is quite different from the show we know as Barney Miller. The pilot was shot on film, first of all, and looks very different from the "real" show for that one reason alone.
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There's a lot of confusion in some of the low rated reviews that is based on a lack of information. No one is pulling bait and switch. Sony released the first three seasons then stopped. Shout! Factory has picked up the rights and is releasing this set. In the past they have also released the remaining seasons in individual season format for shows they picked up like this.

This set, beyond the creative packaging contains:

* All eight seasons on 25 discs
* Newly-produced and never-before-seen bonus features
* 32 page commemorative book
* New interviews with the cast (Linden, Gail, Vigoda)
* Original unaired pilot
* Writers' commentary on select episodes
* Entire first season of Fish (the Abe Vigoda spin-off).

The original news is here: [...]

Amazon is offering this at 30% off! This is an incredible deal, and beyond the best news fans of Barney Miller could have hoped for. Emmy- and Gold Globe-winning, hilarious, and still one of the best comedies ever produced, Barney Miller is finally getting the DVD treatment it deserves.
1 Comment 133 of 144 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Since everyone else is "reviewing" a product that doesn't yet exist, I'll also put my two cents in. Since the bulk of the series will be on DVD for the first time, I don't see what the problem is with re-buying the first three seasons. We'll only be doubling up on 57 of 170 episodes. I plan on giving away the first three seasons to friends or family.

Looked at another way, the pre-order price of $111.99 is roughly $22/season for the five "new" years in the box. Seems like a fair price to me, and definitely not deserving of the petulant one-star reviews. I, for one, had almost given up hope of ever seeing the rest of this show on DVD and am grateful that Shout! Factory is making it happen.
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