Thursday, July 10, 2008

Birthday Wishes


Happy birthday to Ron Glass, who turns 63 today. Glass is of course best known for playing Detective Harris, the author of the police novel Blood on the Badge, on "Barney Miller," which is weirdly absent from the common venues of syndication. Doesn't everyone think this was a great show?

In terms of their level of amusement, and leaving Captain Miller out of it, I would rate the denizens of the Twelfth Precinct as follows:

1. Dietrich
2. Yemana
3. Wojo
4. Fish
5. Harris
6. Chano
7. Levitt
8. Inspector Luger

So you can see, they kind of ran into trouble when Jack Soo died and Fish got his own show (remarkably enough, as of 12:16 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time, July 10, 2008, Abe Vigoda is still alive). Before that, though, "Barney Miller" was quite a show.

Glass went on to play Felix to Demond Wilson's Oscar in "The New Odd Couple," which lasted longer than Wilson's other post-"Sanford" vehicle, "Baby I'm Back," although not as long, I think, as the Saturday morning cartoon "The Oddball Couple."

13 comments:

MJN said...

It's a rare treat to stumble across a "Barney Miller" rerun these days. It's got to be one of the most underappreciated sitcoms ever. I know I appreciate it a whole lot more as an adult than I did when it first aired.

One of the most amazing aspects of the show was that virtually all of the action took place in that tiny squad room (or, occasionally, in Capt. Miller's adjacent office), week after week. Has any other show since "The Honeymooners" been so restricted to a single small set?

Scraps said...

Several years after the (relatively weak) first season appeared on DVD, the second season finally came out last year. I hope there'll be more, but it's probably unwise to get my hopes too high. Dietrich of course isn't in the second season yet, but Landesberg does make a couple of appearances.

Even when you do see Barney Miller in syndication these days, you never see the funniest one: the episode with the hash brownies.

T. Nawrocki said...

In the first season, they went back to Captain Miller's apartment regularly (Barbara Barrie as Mrs. Miller was even a regular cast member) but they gave that up pretty quickly as unnecessary. Most work-based shows have at least one home as an alternate set; most home-based shows have at least two rooms as regular sets.

I just ordered the second season DVD. The third season would be better, since that's when Dietrich replaced Chano.

T. Nawrocki said...

Even when you do see Barney Miller in syndication these days, you never see the funniest one: the episode with the hash brownies.

I know that's pike's favorite episode. "Anybody seen my legs?"

Scraps said...

"You dip 'em in the coffee and they get all mushy. Mushy, mushy, mushy."

Scraps said...

Barney Miller is also extraordinary in that by the time Dietrich appears, the show features three great deadpan comedians: Landesberg, Soo, and Vigoda. Almost all of the antic humor is provided by guest actors, and they had a great parade of fine character performances on the show.

MJN said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pike said...

The line after "Anyone see my legs?" has Yemana adding, "They're about THIS long."

Fantastic.

It's also the episode where a hash-empowered Fish chases a perp across rooftops, shoves him around, and books him -- after which the perp describes him as some sort of supercop.

MJN said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark Lerner said...

Not only did Barney Miller fail to make me smile, let alone laugh, but the bass line in the theme music quickly became the same sort of teen-trying-out-instrument-in-music-store annoyance that "Stairway to Heaven" is for guitarists.

However, because I can easily imagine Ron Glass googling himself daily and thereby stumbling across this thread, I'd just like to say: Happy Birthday, whichever one of those guys you were.

Pike said...

He was Harris.

Harris.

Scraps said...


It's also the episode where a hash-empowered Fish chases a perp across rooftops, shoves him around, and books him -- after which the perp describes him as some sort of supercop.


"What do you think you're dealing with? Kids?"

Pike said...

Marvelous. I'd forgotten that.