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‘Barney Miller and the Files of the Ol’ One-Two’ (review)

Written by Otto W. Bruno
Forewords by Hal Linden and Max Gail
Published by Bear Manor Media

 

Have I mentioned that I collect books on TV shows?

I have one entire bookcase dedicated to them. The new book, Barney Miller and the Files of the Ol’ One-Two by Otto Bruno is an excellent addition to their ranks (even though mine is a PDF copy).

The standard format for this type of book is to have an Introduction from someone associated with the series, an overall look at the show in the context of its times, a look at the show’s characters and the actors who played them, an episode listing, and then a summary of the show’s place in television history.

I’m happy to say Barney Miller hits all the right marks.

Bruno’s writing is concise and detailed without fawning, and he includes himself and his own feelings for the show rather than writing just cold, hard facts. I like that personal touch.

Hal Linden and Max Gail are the only surviving cast members and they both provide introductions as well as some commentary throughout.

The family of the show’s creator Danny Arnold contributes as well, helping to give a well-rounded portrait of the TV veteran who finally achieved the peak of his success with Barney Miller. Behind the scenes dramas that never made TV Guide are detailed and one of TV’s great ensemble casts gets a long section featuring detailed biographies of everyone involved.

An even longer section is the 50-page selection of well-chosen black and white photos. These include publicity pics, backstage pics, screen grabs, and personal photos.

The longest section of all, of course, is the 350-page episode guide, giving details and trivia about the episodes and guest stars from all eight seasons of the show’s run from 1975-1982. One of my pet peeves is when these sections in books just summarize the episode’s plot and then move on. Not so here, as each episode is analyzed under a modern-day microscope with contextual info, continuity issues, actor minutia, and a running tally on how many appearances certain character actors made playing different characters.

The book isn’t perfect. Any book that’s nearly 600 pages is bound to have some typos get through but there are also some flat-out mistakes like actor Tony Franciosa being mis-identified (as he often is) as actor James Franciscus. Odd omissions, too, such as not even a hint of Ron Glass being gay and Ron Carey’s major post-Barney role as Joe Dalton in Terence Hill’s Lucky Luke TV series being ignored.

That said, as TV books go, Otto Bruno’s is overall a lovely and much-deserved tribute and history to one of the classic sitcoms of all time.

 

Booksteve recommends.

 

 

 

 

 

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