Monday, November 12, 2012

Classic TV: Baretta (1975)

The 70's were filled with police dramas, virtually every night of the week, and most produced by the same studio, Universal, which was pumping them out as if they were off an assembly line in Hollywood. Well, if it wasn't from Universal, it was either Quinn Martin or Aaron Spelling, but you get the idea.

One of the most beloved Universal crime dramas of the decade was Baretta, which spent three seasons on ABC from 1975-8, and came about only because another show, Toma, based on the life of real-life NY detective David Toma, had abruptly ended with the resignation of star Tony Musante.

While Toma was drawn from real-life, Baretta was another cookie-cutter police drama of the day. It also marked a career revival for star Robert Blake, who had first emerged as a child star in some Our Gang (aka Little Rascals) comedies years earlier. You know the drill. Baretta had a pet cockatoo, Fred, who apparently was his only roommate. Dana Elcar (Black Sheep Squadron, later of MacGyver) played Baretta's boss. However, perhaps the one thing viewers remember more about Baretta was the theme song, "Keep Your Eye on the Sparrow", sung by Sammy Davis, Jr..

SupremeTeam68 uploaded the open:

Blake would headline one more series, Hell Town, for NBC, in the mid-80's, and, yep, Davis recorded the theme to that series, too. Unfortunately, it lasted just one season. We all know about the legal troubles Blake has had since, and those issues are the reason you don't see Baretta anywhere on cable anymore. It's a shame, but the only way you can catch up would be by getting the series on DVD.

Rating: B.


magicdog said...

I remember watching this show but since I was so young, I just about remember the cockatoo! I'll bet pet stores across the country got inquiries about owning one!

I better remember Blake from the "Our Gang" shorts, and of course, the murder trial. I do remember "Hell Town" too, but I think a show like that was meant for the 70s not the 80s.

Baretta and shows like it seem so dated now - and not just because of the leisure suits! Even Kojak reruns are hard to watch now. Darn it having become more educated and savvy about police work!!

hobbyfan said...

HA! It's shows like Kojak, Baretta, et al, coupled with certain cartoons, that got me interested in being a detective as a child. I never fulfilled that ambition, but hey, things happen for a reason......