Robert Blake stars in Baretta, the classic landmark television series that made him a household name. Edgy undercover cop Tony Baretta (Blake) is tough, eccentric, dangerous…the one cop the bad guys fear most! This explosive Emmy-nominated crime-drama series set the standard for gritty, realistic television cop shows.
It is a sordid fact of life that were it not for Robert Blake’s newfound infamy as an accused wife murderer, Baretta, which lasted from 1975 to 1978, might have been relegated to late nights in TV land. But as they say in Hollywood, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. So here is this three-disc set containing all 12 episodes of the offbeat cop series’ first season. Created by Stephen A. Cannell (whose eclectic credits range from The A-Team and The Great American Hero to The Rockford Files and Wiseguy), Baretta was a tailor-made star vehicle for the pugnacious Blake. In light of his later situation, lines such as “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime,” “You just pull the trigger and somebody dies,” and “Husbands have been known to sometimes kill their wives for money” take on a grimly prophetic resonance. But as these episodes testify, Baretta is more than a newly minted sick joke.
Baretta is an undercover cop in the Serpico mode. Like your standard TV-issue rule-bending loner cop, he butts heads with his excitable superior (veteran character actor Dana Elcar of MacGuyver and Baa Baa Black Sheep fame). He lives in the run-down King Edwards Motel with his scene-stealing pet cockatoo. He adopts a variety of guises (including in one episode, an elderly woman who looks like Tweety’s keeper, Granny, and whose voiced was dubbed by Granny herself, June Foray!). But he is much randier than your average Joe Friday. In one episode, he tries to convince his date to go back to his apartment so she can give him his “birthday present.” She tells him “that will take until 4 in the morning.” With its ersatz funky score, Baretta is time-capsule ’70s television. And, as Baretta was fond of saying, you can take that to the bank. –Donald Liebenson