TITLE: BARNEY MILLER - THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON
DVD Release Date: January 22, 2008 (Sony Pictures Television)
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 22
Running Time: 553 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital English
Subtitles: None; Closed Captioned
Special Features: Two TV mini-sodes:
* The Facts of Life: “Growing Pains”
* Charlie’s Angels: “Angels in Chains”
I never, ever, ever, ever, EVER thought I'd get to say this, but the second season of Barney Miller is FINALLY on DVD!!! Fans of this show have waited FOUR YEARS for the second season of the show to be released on DVD. I am especially thrilled to see this set continue, given that a review of Barney Miller Season 1 is how I came to be employed at Sitcoms Online in the first place. Barney Miller was the beneficiary of an internet poll by Sony in 2003 asking fans what show they wanted to see -- unfortunately, I guess some of those folks who voted on the poll never picked up the set, as we've waited a *very* long time for another set.
Captain Barney Miller (Hal Linden) leads the detectives of New York City's 12th Precinct through the Emmy-nominated second season as they deal with potential layoffs, bomb threats, rocky relationships, disappearing evidence and the never-ending lineup of criminals who are ultimately funnier than they are dangerous. Join Barney's wife Liz (Barbara Barrie), Fish (Abe Vigoda), Wojo (Max Gail), Harris (Ron Glass), Yemana (Jack Soo) and Chano (Gregory Sierra) for another 22 episodes of this long-running hit series!
Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:
One thing that I made *very* clear in that first review was that I was only *very* loosely familiar with the show prior to that DVD release. In addition, thanks to no further cable reruns that *I* could find over the next four years, I *still* am not very familiar with the show, outside of that first season. The fortunate thing with that first review was that we -- I especially -- weren’t using a formalized review style completely yet, and so I wound up never having to do a Memorable Episodes section for that review. However, this is now 2008, and I am supposed to tell you what episodes of a season I’ve never seen -- thanks for nothing TV Land - were my favorites. Unfortunately, deadline constraints mean I haven’t been able to watch this set start to finish by press time either. So, what to do? Well, there *is* one episode I can talk about! Episode #12 of the 2nd season is titled “Fish,” and is what is referred to as a “backdoor pilot” for a new series. This episode was used as a pilot for Abe Vigoda’s eventual spin-off series “Fish.” The episode focuses on Fish and his life at home. We’d previously seen Barney’s home life, but for the first time we get to see what goes on in the Fish household.
Guest stars for the second season include Linda Lavin (“Alice”) in the episodes “Heat Wave,” “Hotel,” “Block Party,” and “Massage Parlor” playing Det. Janice Wentworth. Adam Arkin guest stars in “Hotel” as well. Charlotte Rae (Mrs. Garrett on “The Facts of Life”) guests in the episode “Sniper.” Veteran actors J. Pat O’Malley, Florence Halop, and Jack Riley also guest star.
Don’t expect Sony to re-invent the wheel on a set for a show which had questionable sales figures for season 1. This is your standard slimcases in an outer box system. Yes, it is different from the season 1 packaging, however that was only a two disc set -- and it *was* 2004 after all. This set features two slimcases, the first holding discs 1 and 2, the latter holding disc 3. The actual disc holding mechanisms seem to be less willing than usual to part with the disc, making disc removal a bit more time consuming than it should be -- at least with the copy I received it was.
The front cover features a shot similar in tone to the one used on season 1 -- but this time the shot seems to be taken from another part of the station, and the camera was placed on even level with them. While the first set used a black and blue scheme, the second season uses red colors. The cover art of each of the slimcases features the logo at the top, with a file folder taking up most of the rest of the art. Attached to that file folder, either by a paper clip or stuck on, are still photos from an episode from that season. Disc art uses these same file folders, without the photos. In the bottom-right corner is a little sticky note with the discs contained and the episodes on those discs. The first two discs each hold nine episodes -- disc 1 has episodes 1-9, disc 2 has 10-18, and disc 3 has episodes 19-22.
Menu Design and Navigation:
Menus are extremely basic -- the cover art from the outer box is re-used, with red bars running along the top and bottom. I can understand the one at the bottom -- that’s where menu navigation is. However, the red one on top is out of place, and just makes the red show logo look poorer quality. Menu selection options include “Play All Episodes” and “Episode Selections” on both discs, and either an option to access the previews or the mini-sodes on discs 1 and 3 respectively. Episode selection features the same red boxes, with the center background being a sort of wooden paneling. The three selectable episodes per menu are presented diagonally, with a still image and the episode title and number (out of the season) below it. The main menu can be re-accessed by highlighting the badge, while the next page can be accessed by highlighting the handcuffs. A small badge over each still image denotes which episode has been selected.
Video and Audio Quality:
The box says episodes have been mastered in High Definition...and I’d believe it. The video elements look extremely nice for a 30-year-old show. The colors are as vibrant as they should be, and the picture is mostly defect free. Unfortunately, the set *is* 30 years old, so there *are* going to be issues that no amount of mastering can fix. Most of the episode -- features a series of ghost lines on the far left, while at least a couple of shots feature even stronger, image-wide ghosting effects. The video has obviously been cleaned up to the best state possible -- particularly given they are using the original broadcast elements. There are defects, but I think Sony really *did* try to produce the best video possible. Audio is as good as possible for a 30-year-old show. ‘70s shows are not usually audio masterpieces, but the vocals are crisp, while that wonderful theme still sounds great. Chapter stops occur at the end of each scene, while there is a Play All feature from the main menu.
While I normally include a full list of run times, I like to avoid acts of massive repetition. Moreover -- good news everyone -- the set appears to be entirely unedited. All the episodes -- except one -- run between 25:00 and 25:15. One episode, on the third disc, runs 30 seconds shorter however, but this still puts the episode at over 24:30, still clearly in unedited territory. This probably just corresponds to an episode running short, or ABC selling an additionl 30 seconds of ad space in this episode.
This is the second Barney Miller DVD set in a row where Sony has seen fit to include a “special feature” that doesn’t really accomplish anything. At least the *first* set’s feature was related to the show! I will throw Sony a half a point for including something, but that is mostly just for including “something” outside of previews.
First of all, I can’t *stand* these mini-sodes in the first place. They take episodes of your favorite shows, and hack them to pieces. You *can’t* present compelling television in five minutes -- you just *cannot* do it. The shortest TV show I’ve ever seen -- EVER -- that I’ve enjoyed would probably be the program Robot Chicken, which runs for 10 minutes in a 15 minute slot -- and it’s *supposed* to run for 10 minutes -- it’s not a 24 minute program hacked into those 10. Those 10 minutes is organic. The mini-sode concept is just...sad. The only benefit here I could *possibly* be would be getting people to watch a very condensed form of a show they’ve never seen, to try to get them interested. Unfortunately, this still requires a person to *want* to try them out, and I just don’t think it has, or will, produce much success. Again, I applaud Sony for at least trying *something*, but I criticize for that something just not being very good. In addition, I do not see the point of completely unrelated, hacked up, episodes of Facts of Life and Charlie’s Angels being included on a set of Barney Miller. Yeah, Charlotte Rae of “The Facts of Life” did guest star this season on Barney Miller, but I bet Sony did not know that.
Aside from really the menus, and the minisodes (but that is really a side issue), I love this show, and I love this set. The video looks great for its age -- sounds great for its age too -- and most of the episodes are great television even 30 years later. I am shocked, stunned, and surprised that some network (here is looking at you TV Land) is not running the show, as it is a great, long-running series. TV Land used to air the show though in like 2000.
I ask, quite simply, that you buy this set. There are no edits, and it is great TV. You can even pick it up for around $20 -- nearly 33% off the manufacturer’s suggested price -- at discount retailers such as Sitcoms Online partner Amazon.com (see link at the end). PLEASE, buy this set. I do not want to wait until 2012 for season three and I am sure you do not want to wait either, especially for the most famous episode “Hash.” STRONGLY RECOMMENDED.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 0.5/5
Menu Navigation/Design: 2.5/5
-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 01/20/08
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