When ABC’s hit cop comedy Barney Miller first hit the airwaves in 1974, there was little else on television like it at the time. Perhaps the only series to which it could be justifiably compared at the time was CBS’ equally popular medical drama M.A.S.H.. None of the other crime-centered series at the time could be compared to Barney Miller and neither can any of the crime-centered series on television today. Taking that into consideration Shout! Factory’s recent release of Barney Miller: The Complete Seventh Season becomes another breath of fresh air that proving once more why Shout! Factory remains today the leading name in home entertainment. The seventh season of Barney Miller–the series’ penultimate season–is just as enjoyable as the series’ previous seasons. That is thanks in large part to the talents of the show’s writers. Once again, the writers have exhibited the highest caliber of talent, crafting scripts that not only balance the show’s humor and heart but also do so in a way that leaves audiences not caring in the least that each episode takes place entirely within the squad room. Another positive aspect of this season’s episodes is the work of the show’s cast. The cast’s comedic timing is spot on throughout each episode just as much as each member’s ability to handle the show’s more delicate moments. Being that each episode takes place entirely inside the squad room, one can’t deny the work of the camera crew. It’s a very limited set in terms of size. So it goes without saying that those behind the cameras exhibited just as much expertise in catching every bit of the squad room as well as the cast. By themselves, each of the noted elements plays a pivotal role in the enjoyment of Barney Miller in its seventh season. Together, they make this season another joy for any of the series’ original fans and for those today looking to escape the seemingly never-ending barrage of overly violent and overly sexualized cop dramas on television today. They also combine to exhibit once again just why Shout! Factory justifiably retains the title of the leading name in home entertainment.
The seventh season of ABC’s classic cop comedy is one of Shout! Factory’s best new releases so far this year. The series’ penultimate season, it offers plenty for audiences to smile about beginning with the most important element of all, its writing. The series’ writers have once again crafted an entire season of episodes–twenty-two episodes in this case–that expertly balance the series’ humor and heart. That ability to balance the show’s humor and heart is exhibited right from the season’s two-part premiere “Homicide.” Barney and company have to deal with their usual crop of cases, including a bizarre case in which they have to hunt down a hitman hired by a woman to kill her husband. It’s not quite what audiences might think. The search is on after the woman in question actually comes to the squad in hopes that they would find him as she changed her mind about having the man carry out the crime. Both the case itself and its outcome will leave audiences laughing. It’s nice to see the lighthearted take on what would otherwise be a mega-event for so many of today’s unnecessarily overly dramatic and violent crime-centric series. It’s such a welcome change from those series comparatively speaking. The wildly entertaining “Rainmaker” is another excellent example of the writers’ continued ability to balance humor and heart in this season of Barney Miller. This episode sees an alleged rainmaker brought in to the squad room after he had lit a fire in one of the city’s busiest areas, only to find out that he had in fact been hired by the city’s department of water to try to make it rain. Interestingly enough research proved that he had in fact been hired by the city to try to make it rain just as he claimed in his arrest. What happens from here won’t be revealed. But it will have audiences laughing. It could be argued that what happens from there makes this episode a lightly veiled commentary about the behaviors of those that run America’s cities and the country in whole. Anyone not laughing throughout simply has no sense of humor. If that isn’t enough proof of the writers’ abilities, then the two-part mid-season story “The Movie” will definitely show it just as clearly as any of the season’s other episodes. This episode sees Harris having to put together a fake adult film in order to infiltrate the city’s prostitution Harris ends up going thousands of dollars over budget in the process. He also ends up making something akin to an art film instead of an adult film, leaving his fellow squad members and others in attendance for its viewing in complete disbelief. It’s an approach that had never been used before in any crime-centered series and has never been used since again showing just how talented and brilliant this series’ writers were and remain by comparison to those running today’s crime-centered series. As a side note, audiences will find interesting that writer Reinhold Weege actually uses the name of Harris’ made up film company–Starry Night Productions–for his own company, which would later produce the equally iconic legal comedy Night Court. But that’s a story for another time. Getting back on track, the episodes noted here each exhibit in their own way the writers’ continued ability to balance Barney Miller’s serious and not so serious issues in a way that will entertain audiences in so many ways. They are just a few examples of that talent, too. The other nineteen episodes that much up Season Seven each exhibit the writers’ talents, too. All things considered the twenty-two episodes that make up the seventh season of Barney Miller clearly exhibit the continued ability of its writers to leave audiences laughing and to move them all while keeping most of the show’s episodes within the tight confines of the squad room.
The work of Barney Miller’s writing staff does so much to make the series’ seventh season a joy for both the series’ original audiences and today’s older audiences. From its light-hearted commentaries to its sometimes more zany plot lines, the writers’ are to be commended for crafting twenty-two more episodes that remain as hilarious today as they were so long ago in their original run on ABC. As entertaining as the writing makes this season, one would be remiss to ignore the work of the series’ cast in interpreting each episode’s script. Whether in its more lighthearted moments or its slightly more serious moments, the cast is spot on with its collective talents throughout the season. “Lady and the Bomb” is one of the best examples of the cast’s ability to interpret this season’s scripts. This episode sees a woman upset over her husband’s impotence (yes, his impotence) take the squad hostage with a pressure cooker bomb. She claims that radioactive medical waste at one of the city’s hospitals is to blame for his inability to perform. The very concept of someone taking such drastic measures is serious. The actions of both the woman and the squad members to the situation will leave audiences laughing just as much as their reaction when the woman’s husband reveals that maybe it wasn’t the medical waste in question wasn’t to blame for his performance problems. In any of today’s crime-centered series, the acting would have been just as over-the-top as the show’s scripts. But in the case of this episode, the work of the cast and writers together makes it one of the season’s best episodes overall and one of the best examples of how the cast’s work makes this season so great. The season’s two-part season premiere could be argued as good examples for the cast’s talents, too. The season’s other episodes each exhibit the cast’s talents in their own respective manner. There simply isn’t enough space or time to go into detail about how each one does this. Needless to say regardless of which episode(s) one chooses, audiences will agree that those talents are displayed in every one of this season’s episodes. And partnered with the continued solid work of the series’ writers, proves even more why this installment of Barney Miller is just as enjoyable as its previous seasons and why any fan of the series will want to add to their own home DVD library.
The work of both the writers and cast in the seventh season of Barney Miller more than makes this stand-alone season set a worthy addition to the home library of any o the show’s fans. They are both key elements of the season’s success in their own right. And as important as they are to the whole of Season Seven, the work of those behind the cameras is just as important to the show. Audiences must remind themselves that the set used for Barney Miller was not that big. And throughout the course of the show’s eight seasons on the air, writers only took the series out of the squad room a total of thirteen times. Of those thirteen times, only one of this season’s episodes took the show outside the squad room. Considering that this series was a multi-camera series and the squad room set not being that large, it meant a lot of tough decisions on camera placement. Luckily those decisions led to the director and camera crew catching every bit of the set without getting in the way in the process. There’s something about the camera crew’s work that makes the look of the squad room so much more believable than those of today’s crime-centric series. That ability to make audiences suspend their disbelief if only in terms of the show’s look is just as important to the show (and this season in particular) as the work of the show’s cast and writing staff. It makes this season all the more enjoyable or fans new and old alike. And when set alongside the work of the show’s cast and its writers, it shows clearly why this latest collection of episodes is just as enjoyable as the series’ previous stand-alone sets. The overall enjoyment of this set also serves once more as a reminder as to why Shout! Factory remains today the leading name in the world of home entertainment.
Whether it be for the work of the series’ writers, for the work of the series’ cast or that of the people behind the cameras, so much can be said of what makes Barney Miller’s seventh season so enjoyable. The writers have once again expertly balanced the series’ humor and heart throughout the season’s twenty-two total episodes. The cast has just as expertly interpreted each of the season’s scripts, too. Those two elements together make for plenty of reason for audiences to pick up this stand-alone season set. That is especially the case for those that already have the series’ previous six season sets. For those that don’t have said sets, this is still just as great a starting point. The work of the camera crew does its own impressive job of capturing the realistically small size of the squad room and its effect on the squad’s interactions. It did this all without getting in the way of the overall production. As audiences should be able to tell by now each of the noted elements plays its own important role in the whole of Barney Miller: The Complete Season Seven. All three elements taken into consideration together, this recently released box set proves without a doubt why it is another welcome addition to Shout! Factory’s ongoing series of stand-alone season sets from what is one of television’s greatest crime-centric series. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered online direct from Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tv/comedy/barney-miller-season-seven. More information on this and other titles available from Shout! Factory is available online at:
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