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100 TV Shows-#4-Barney Miller

Barney Miller

Some shows I associate with either one of my parents, but Barney Miller is a show where I know both my parents equally enjoyed it and watched together. Dad loved Hal Linden going back to his days as a Broadway star and Mom really helped me appreciate the subtleties in humor and the more serious moments.

Some memories:

I think this is the first comedy I watched where I felt sad for a character. It was the episode where Chano, played by Gregory Sierra had killed a man, and how he dealt with the aftermath. They showed him breaking down crying in his apartment. It was really rough to watch. I would have been 11 or 12 at the time. I also remember in that same episode there was a tremendous delayed and then sustained laugh when he comes back from a movie and someone asks what he saw and he says, "Dirty Harry." (I think mom had to explain that one to me.)

The first show where I remember knowing that a character had left the show and been replaced with another one. (Gregory Sierra left and we got Dietrich, played by Steve Landesberg).

Dietrich was one of the first characters I really related to. He was so smart and the other characters (especially Harris) seemed to resent him for it, and that was definitely how I perceived myself at the time. The character was basically Landesberg's stand-up persona transplanted to the sit-com settiing. My dad loved him too, from seeing him on the Tonight show. He was the original deadpan snarker before the word "snark" was in any kind of popular usage, and the way he'd get a line in there, almost under the radar has always been an inspiration in my own approach to humor.

I wasn't shipping slash then, but I think in retrospect, the Harris/Dietrich relationship was damn close to "foe-yay."

Probably also the first show I watched where I was aware of an actor having died, when Jack Soo passed on and they did a tribute/clip episode about Yemana.

One of the great "work-place" sitcoms, even more purely than Mary Tyler Moore show. There were SOME scenes outside the precinct, but not many.

One of the greatest New York shows of all time. Even if it was shot in a studio, it still FELT like NY. Look at those credits, see the Towers and feel the NY of the 70's.



( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 20th, 2012 12:40 pm (UTC)
This is one of those shows that I *know* I watched, but the only ep I remember with any clarity was the one about the alledged time traveler.

Apr. 20th, 2012 05:13 pm (UTC)
I'm trying to keep this to shows that I have actual concrete memories of watching, rather than the "know I watched" ones. It'll be interesting to see if I can keep that up for 100 episodes, considering that a lot of my childhood is a bit of a blur at this far distance.

Apr. 20th, 2012 02:07 pm (UTC)
I loved this show--still do. Like you, I had to have my mom explain some of the jokes to me, but I would literally squeal when I knew it was time for the show (I think it had something to do with the 'sitting on my mom's lap cuddling' time that was involved, too:^) ).
Apr. 20th, 2012 05:11 pm (UTC)
Awwww! Cuddle time. That's always a nice memory to go with a specific show.
Apr. 20th, 2012 03:28 pm (UTC)
Barney Miller= Night Court on valium.
Apr. 20th, 2012 05:10 pm (UTC)
IMAO, not so much. First of all, it was very fast paced, rapid-fire joke delivery and also a lot grittier. Night Court was by far the more soporific program.
Apr. 20th, 2012 03:41 pm (UTC)
I read somewhere that cops still say it's the most real cop show. I remember it fondly, but not clearly.(except the one about the pot brownies)
My mom loves Steve Landesberg and misses him all the time.
Apr. 20th, 2012 05:09 pm (UTC)
The pot brownies was one of the single greatest episodes of any show ever. Just the way Jack Soo said "Mooshi mooshi."

When I told Hubby I was writing about Barney Miller, he immediately repeated the thing about cops saying it was the "most real." I wonder if that really is still the case.

Landesberg was a great stand-up. I'm totally with your mom. I feel
like the tradition of great intellecual comedians may have been lost, or at least moved across the pond.
Apr. 22nd, 2012 11:56 pm (UTC)
Mom, somewhat inexplicably
taught me his routine about Jewish People In The South that includes the line "y'all goin' to the synagogue, or what?" I have no idea why, as we are not Jewish(although our sense of humor may be) and technically Arizona is more West than South.Although if she and her two Jewish BFFs when I was a little kid spotted a resemblance, she's not wrong.
Apr. 25th, 2012 04:08 am (UTC)
Re: Mom, somewhat inexplicably
It may just be that the delivery is so hilarious as to transcend any actual relevance? (I feel that way about some of Eddie Izzard's routines as well. It doesn't matter what he's saying, but the way he says it is so perfect.)
Apr. 25th, 2012 06:33 pm (UTC)
Re: Mom, somewhat inexplicably
Probably that. Although Arizonans are always happy to have Alabama and Mississippi around to make us look better.(Although, not a ton better, pick a metric and we're usually rounding out the bottom three with them.)
Apr. 21st, 2012 01:42 am (UTC)
I watched Barney Miller with my parents too, and we all loved it. They had to explain some of the jokes to me, too. I think it was the first "edgy" show that it was deemed ok for me to watch, and it made me feel rather grown up, especially when I actually understood one of Dietrich's jokes. He was by far my fave character, although I did like Wojo too.

Edited at 2012-04-21 01:43 am (UTC)
Apr. 22nd, 2012 06:33 pm (UTC)
Never a big Wojo fan, although I'm sure it was actually great acting as it takes a smart actor be convincingly dumb. Dietrich was so great and snarky. I'd love to go back and see some of those episodes now and see how many topical references he was making and what I would pick up now that I missed then.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )



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