The brainchild of veteran writer-directors Danny Arnold and Theodore J. Flicker, the comedy/drama Barney Miller
(1975-1982) offered a very human look at the inner workings of a New York City police precinct; its wry and observant scripts, aided by a stellar cast, helped earn the series three Emmy Awards and a devoted fan base, which should be pleased by this two-disc set that compiles its entire first season. Viewers familiar with the series' later seasons will notice substantial differences in the cast and storyline; episodes divide Barney's (Hal Linden) time evenly between the 12th Precinct and his apartment, which he shares with wife Barbara Barrie and two children (all of whom would be phased out of the series). The first season squad was composed of Abe Vigoda's dyspeptic Fish, the overeager Wojciehowicz (Max Gail), dry-witted Yemana (Jack Soo, who passed away during the fifth season), and street-smart Chano (Gregory Sierra, who departed the series after the second season); Ron Glass's dapper Harris would not be listed in the opening credits until subsequent seasons.
Arnold, along with Chris Hayward (Get Smart) and other scribes, would pen the majority of the first season, which set the tone for the series by pitting the squad against a host of offbeat criminals, other cops, and regular citizens, several of whom would become semi-regulars; James Gregory's crusty Inspector Luger makes his debut in "Vigilante" (episode 9), while unscrupulous lawyer Arnold Ripner (Alex Henteloff) and Detective Wentworth (a pre-Alice Linda Lavin) have their first appearances in "The Experience" (episode 2) and "Ms. Cop" (episode 8), respectively.
Columbia/TriStar's two-disc set offers all 13 episodes of the first season, as well as short credit lists for some of the major players; the little-seen 1974 pilot, "The Life and Times of Captain Barney Miller," might have made an interesting supplemental feature, but fans should be pleased to have this set regardless. --Paul Gaita
Barney Miller is the kind of cop we'd all like to meet. He somehow manages to maintain order over a group of inner-city detectives who gamble for a hobby, get hit on by anything in skirts, go to renaissance philosophy conventions for fun, and would really prefer to be writing. Stars Hal Linden, Abe Vigoda and more! Two-disc set includes all 13 episodes from the first season.