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Barney Miller: The Complete Second Season

Score: 95%
Rating: Not Rated
Publisher: Sony Pictures Home

Region: 1
Media: DVD/3
Running Time: 553 Mins.
Genre: Comedy/TV Series
Audio: Dolby Digital: English
Subtitles: English


  • Minisode: Charlie's Angels - "Angels in Chains
  • Minisode: The Facts of Life - "Growing Pains"
  • Digitally Remastered

Barney Miller: The Complete Second Season is a treasure trove of 70's comedy. Starring the affable Hal Linden as Captain Barney Miller, he plays mother hen, or would that be father rooster, to a very colorful group of New York cops at the 12th Precinct. My favorite character always has been Detective Phil Fish (Abe Vigoda), the hound dog-faced policeman who acts way older than he actually is. He says everything just a little bit too slow and always uses the pregnant pause as his most powerful weapon. He is well known as the sick, old cop who hates his wife, Bernice. We even get to meet Bernice and Fish's daughter in the Fish-centric episode aptly entitled "Fish" where he gets put on desk duty and is duly insulted by that. While some of the things Fish says would raise an eyebrow today, it's funny considering the time. When the victim of spousal abuse comes in to lodge a complaint against her husband, she makes some comment about a man hitting his wife and Fish just looks longingly off in the distance. While this kind of stuff would be frowned on today, Fish had a more "Honeymooners" attitude.

Then you've got Det. Ron Harris (Ron Glass), the well-dressed and highly intelligent black detective with a razor-sharp wit. His fancy wardrobe becomes a bit of a problem when he and fellow cop, Wojo, are forced to chase a suspect into the sewers in the season finale "The Mole." It turns out to be harder than he suspected to get the department to reimburse him for his $200 suit ruined by sewage. Back in the 70's, $200 was a lot for a suit!

Det. Stan Wojciehowicz, or Wojo for short, is a former Marine and an all-around good guy who has trouble dealing with things like non-patriotism and women's lib. Case in point is "The Horse Thief" where a man is selling t-shirts and various goods emblazoned with the American flag for the bicentennial celebration. Wojo arrests him for not having a license, but refuses to allow the man to sit down because he has the flag on the butt of his jeans and that's just disrespectful, to sit on the flag. Wojo also has some issues when his girlfriend, fellow Detective Janice Wentworth (Linda Lavin), decides to bust a massage parlor for propositioning customers. He sees this as man's work and wrestles with her assertiveness. The best Wojo/Wentworth episodes are "Heatwave" where Wojo and Wentworth dress up to catch a park rapist and the rapist prefers Wojo in drag to Wentworth, and "Grand Hotel" where the two act as husband and wife to catch a hotel room robber. Funny, funny stuff. Linda Lavin as Janice Wentworth is absolutely hysterical. I used to watch her in Alice back in the day and really preferred the rest of the cast, but seeing her in Barney Miller as the loud-mouthed, brash and overly enthusiastic detective Wentworth, she is simply priceless.

Rounding out the eclectic group are Det. Nick "I'm Japanese, not Chinese" Yemana (Jack Soo) and Det. Chano Amenguale (Gregory Sierra, Sanford and Son). Chano is the typical hotheaded Latino and he is so funny when he goes off on one of his tirades, speaking 90 miles an hour in Spanish. Yemana is very mellow, chirping up with priceless bits of wisdom and hilarity when things get too quiet.

There are numerous running gags throughout Barney Miller: Season Two, and most are probably carried over from Season One. Fish is always plagued by some malady and is constantly going to the bathroom. In "Discovery", the payroll department actually has Fish listed as deceased. Many old/dead jokes ensue. Another running gag is the pronunciation of Wojo's (Max Gail) name. "It's Wojciehowicz, just like it's spelled" can be heard in almost every episode. The best is when Wojo delivers a Spanish lady's child as the New Year arrives in "Happy New Year". She decides to name her baby after him... until she hears his name. He should have just said Stan. Yemana's bad coffee is another running gag and an overdose victim gets the full brunt of it when the team is trying to save her life until the paramedics can arrive. They pump her full of Yemana's crappy coffee and just like clockwork, she upchucks.

The many trials and tribulations the precinct faces include a sniper, a guy with a bomb strapped to him, pickpockets, gay bashers, horse thieves and con men. A recurring theme that was visited on in several episodes was the matter of budget cuts. Either the guys were being laid off or they were in fear of their jobs many times. I guess things were tough back in the 70's, but I can't imagine a state not having the funding to pay their police officers. Apparently, this was the case during 1975 in New York. Because of this theme, they dealt with protection rackets and citizens taking things into their own hands.

Overall, although Barney and company encountered some serious issues, the overall attitude of the show is very lighthearted and funny. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments during Season Two and if you want to reminisce back to the 70's, Barney Miller: Season Two is a great way to do it. Special features are sparse, but there are two minisodes to allow viewers to check out other available series. Charlie's Angels and The Facts of Life each have a 5-minute minisode which is roughly edited show with basically all of the non-dialogue parts removed. You get an idea of what an episode is like, so they are worthwhile for seeing what other series are out there. While I doubt Barney Miller: Season Two will pick up any new young fans, simply because they won't give it a chance, it is still very funny today and definitely worth checking out.

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

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