TITLE: BARNEY MILLER - THE FIRST SEASON
DVD Release Date: January 20th, 2004 (Columbia Tri-Star Home Entertainment)
Number of discs: 2
Number of episodes: 13
Running Time: Approx. 314 minutes
Languages and subtitles: English Only, No Subtitles
Special Features: Columbia-Tristar Trailers, Mini TV-Ographies
Folks, welcome to the first of what I hope will be many reviews for me on the site. Admittedly,
before watching this set, I was hardly a fan of the series. I had watched all of two episodes
of the series, ever. This DVD set is, in essence, my first prolonged exposure to the series.
A small piece of history: Barney Miller started out in 1974, as The Life and Times of Captain
Barney Miller, a failed comedy pilot in aseries called Just for Laughs. In 1975, the series
earned a place as a replacement series on the January schedule, where it would continue until
1982. The show revolved around Capt. Barney Miller and a motley crew of characters at the
12th Precint stationhouse in New York City. Also residing at the station were aging cop
Fish (Abe Vigoda), Wojo (Max Gail), Det. Yemana (Jack Soo). The show would last, with minor
cast changes, until 1982, when it finally ended it's 8 season run.
Sony, the company that owns the rights to Barney Miller, among many other shows, launched
an internet poll in late 2003, asking respondees what shows they'd prefer to see on DVD. One
of the higher ranked shows was Barney Miller, so, in late January 2004, Sony released the
The packaging is a standard 2-disc Keep Case setup. The first disc is held on a plastic
flipping insert that can be, well, flipped to the other side to access the 2nd disc. This
is generally a decent setup, and the plastic cases tend to hold up a lot better than other
setups. There's a small flaw with 2-disc keep cases, however, in that the plastic flipping
insert can and WILL come out, and you'll have to reattach it. Other than that, it's a fairly
Menu Design and Navigation:
The first thing I noticed about the DVD set was a distinct lack of effects in the main menu.
There are just the basic options, including a Play All button thankfully, but there is no
background music playing during the menus, and the only animation or effects upon selecting
an option is that the green handcuffs will turn a poorly-illustrated orange (There are still
green pixels around the egde of the handcuffs). A nice little graphical tweak they've thrown
in is that the episode selection menu consists of a folder with a still picture of one of
the primary moments of the episode, giving the impression that your looking at a police file
folder for each episode.
Video and Audio Quality:
The first disc is somewhat crammed, as there are NINE episodes on the first disc. This
results in noticeable video compression problems. Disc 2 doesn't suffer from said
issue. Also, the film that the show used, at least in these early episodes well, appear
to have deteriorated some over the years. Some episodes (Ramon in particular) seem to
have deteriorated more than others. The audio is mono, but, for a TV series from 1975, 5.1
Surround Sound isn't expected. For monaural audio, the quality is decent, but if you're
looking for earth-shattering sound, you won't find them here.
The episodes themselves are genuine treats. Each and every episode in the entire series
has a multitude of funny moments, as well as more than one dramatic, and is sure to please
fans of the series, and non-fans of multiple genres who may be renting the series or picking
up the set on a lark alike. Supposedly, one or two episodes are edited. Having had VERY
limited exposure to the series, I honestly can't tell for sure, but, most likely, it won't
affect your viewing experience even if they are.
The TV-ographies aren't the best special feature in the universe, but for a Columbia-Tristar
DVD set, any special features at ALL are appreciated. This feature is very much like it
sounds, a miniature still biography about some of the principle actors from the season.
That's essentially it, aside from trailers for other Sony TV DVD's, a "feature" you'll find
on most all Sony discs.
There's only two improvements I'd love to see on future releases, and one's a constant
request for Columbia-Tristar DVD's, so you shouldn't be surprised to see it here. The
special features are, like all Sony discs, next to non-existant. The Tv-Ographies
are a step up from previous C-T releases, but are still light-years away from what other
companies are putting out in terms of features. Deleted scenes, interviews with the cast,
commentary tracks, anything. Also, nine shows is just too much for one of these discs to
handle without running into video compression issues. The compression is enough on Disc 1
that even the average viewer will notice.
Other than said video issue, I love this set. It's a great season for a great show at
a reasonable price. The episodes are good enough to turn even myself into a fan of the
series. I highly recommend you pick the set up, or at the very least, PLEASE rent the
set. It'll be worth the money, the series is of that high a quality.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):
Video Quality: 3 (First Disc), 4 (Second Disc)
Audio Quality: 4
Special Features: 4
Menu Design/Navigation: 4
-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 07/17/04
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