I LOVE LUCY
DICK VAN DYKE
MARY TYLER MOORE
ALL IN THE FAMILY
Here To Order
"Barney Miller" on DVD
1974: The Pilot Episode
Pilot The Life and Times of Barney Miller First
Aired: August 22, 1974
A day in the life of Captain Barney Miller, a compassionate family
man and chief detective in a colorful Greenwich Village precinct--where
today he comes face-to-face with a gun-wielding junkie.
The series's original filmed pilot, it aired only once--as an unsold
pilot on Just for Laughs, an ABC summer anthology series. Abby
Dalton is Barney's wife, Liz, the role played by Barbara Barrie when
the script was rewritten--and reshot--for Barney Miller's debut
five months later.
Year-End Rating: 14.7 (70th place)
The detectives of New York's Twelfth Precinct assemble for their first
season under the exhaustive stewardship of executive producer Danny
Arnold, who, along with producer Chris Hayward, would write the bulk
of the stories during the first two seasons. Lila Garrett serves as
executive script consultant during the first year, while associate producer
duties are shared by Tim Steele and Mark Goode.
Barney tries to reason with a frightened young junkie who holds the
Twelfth Precinct at bay with a small handgun.
Faced with a wild-eyed gunman, the first thing Barney does is introduce
himself! He disarms the scared felon with a simple act of respect--standard
procedure at the Twelfth Precinct, where for the next eight seasons,
lawbreaker and victim alike would be treated with an empathy rarely
seen on TV cop shows.
Fish worries that he's getting too old for his job; a mad bomber leaves
a live charge in the squad room; and the detectives arrest a gay shoplifter.
Though Danny Arnold was credited as director of this episode, it was
actually the second--and final--episode directed by John Rich. "We collaborated
on that episode," explained Arnold. "And John's tough. He knew what
he wanted, and I knew what I wanted--but they weren't always the same
thing. In the end, John didn't think it represented his work, so he
chose not to have his name on it."
Actually the issue of who got final credit for writing and directing
various episodes would be a constant source of frustration for the producer.
"Those credits were dictated by strict union rules," insists Arnold.
"In many, many cases, the writing and directing credits that appear
on Barney Miller have nothing to do with authorship or the actual
work that was done on the show. They give a false impression that is
very unfair to those who actually made substantial contributions to
The episode marks the first appearance of Alex Henteloff as Arnold
Ripner, the disreputable ambulance chaser who would plague the men of
the Twelfth for the next eight years; Jack DeLeon plays Marty, the gay
thief who would also make his share of return visits. Not so for Rod
Perry's Detective Wilson, a black member of the squad who failed to
make the precinct's permanent roster.
A department store entrusts their cash payroll to Wojo for safekeeping
during a blizzard; and a despondent flasher attempts suicide in the
Chano investigates a rash of obscene phone calls; and Inspector Kelly
arrives, intent on snooping out corruption in the Twelfth.
The episode contains one of a handful of scenes that took place in
Barney's kitchen. Though the show had been designed to place equal emphasis
on the policeman's home and work life, it quickly became apparent that
the domestic scenes diluted the central focus of the squad room. In
the early years, the writers made a few strained attempts to bring Liz
down to the precinct. But, as producer Tony Sheehan observed, "There
were only so many times we could have Liz drop in to have lunch or bring
Barney a flower." With few exceptions, Barney's wife finally evolved
into an offscreen presence throughout most of the series.
Barney's daughter wants to move out on her own; and a call girl rejects
Wojo's tender efforts to reform her.
Fish, Barney, and Wojo are visited by a parade of curious neighbors
when they attempt a stakeout in an abandoned apartment.
Though broadcast as the seventh episode, this script, directed by
John Rich, was actually the first regular Barney Miller episode shot.
A drunken bureaucrat finds himself behind bars; Wojo has the local
deli closed for minor health-code infractions; and Chano nabs the twelve-year-old
burglar who robbed his apartment.
The detectives are put off by the determined lady cop who arrives on
temporary transfer to the Twelfth; and Chano gets the goods on an obscene
Linda Lavin's Detective Janice Wentworth would be reassigned to the
Twelfth for a stay of duty that lasted throughout the show's second
An elderly vigilante defends his neighborhood against muggers; Luger
complains that Barney's squad isn't despised enough by the citizenry;
and Wojo arrests a transvestite teamster.
James Gregory's gruff but avuncular Inspector Luger was inspired by
Danny Arnold's friend Barney Ruditsky, a roaring-twenties racket-buster
whose life was immortalized on The Lawless Years, an NBC cop
show that ran from 1959 to 1961. Oddly enough, Jim Gregory played Ruditsky
in that series as well.
Wojo eats a poisoned sandwich that was intended for their prisoner,
a nervous mob accountant; and Chano sets up a narcotics buy--with the
detectives' own cash.
The Twelfth plays host to a philosophical escape artist; Harris begins
work on a police novel; and a crazy inventor attempts to fly.
Harris's literary leanings provide one of the show's most durable
storylines--the eventual publication of Blood on the Badge in
the sixth year would provide the author with both joy and anguish throughout
the show's last three seasons.
A long-haired loner from narcotics is transferred to the Twelfth Precinct;
and Bernice is alarmed when Fish spends an afternoon investigating a
Chano is involved in a shoot-out with a pair of armed robbers; and Liz brings in an eight-year-old who tried to rob her with a stick.