Staying with the mid-70's for another show with a great theme song and a charismatic leading actor who turned out to have a lot of demons, although it appears that Mr. Blake's self-destructiveness eventually hurt other people more than himself.
This was very much a Zeitgeist show of the "gimmick cop" variety. The catch-phrases. "And that's the name of that tune." Fred the Cockatoo. The under-cover schtick. Robert Blake on the Tonight Show. Seriously great theme song, brilliantly sung by Sammy Davis Jr. Probably the last time he was ever that cool in the non-retro, non-ironic sense.
I probably shouldn't have been watching...it was on at 10PM and was very violent. In fact, this may have been one of the shows that triggered a periodic "OMG there's too much violence on television!" frenzy.
The only episode I remember is one where Baretta and some girl get captured by the bad guys, who proceed to shoot them up with drugs, and Baretta asked the girl to scratch his nose because apparently heroin makes your nose itch. (That was a common theme for cop shows back then, I guess...remember Hutch being forcibly hooked on heroin...that has remained SUCH a squick with me to this day.)
I love that Tom Ewell was on the show in the "old coot" role held by Noah Berry over on Rockford Files. In fact, for a while I mixed the two of them up.
I think I did have a crush on Robert Blake, at least as Baretta, although possibly in real-life. He had such a bad-ass, chip on his shoulder attitude and within a few years, I'd be completely obsessed with Robert Conrad and his batteries.
And now we know better. I remember reading in gossip magazines at the time that he was "difficult" and that had something to do with the show only lasting a few years. These day's we can read difficult as "egotistical prick with substance abuse issues."
Oh well. Aside from learning how much I hate change when I really like a show, I'm also sort of getting a retrospective of what kind of darkness was behind a lot of 70's and 80's shows. Nostalgia ain't what it used to be.
I promise we'll move back to something more contemporary and a bit lighter for the next one.