The 1970's saw a streak of shows about unconventional cops who, though quirky, were skilled investigators, dedicated to seeing justice done- even if they sometimes had to throw out the rule book (and, of course, get in trouble with their by-the-book superior officer).
Let's see, there was Kojak (quirk- omnipresent lollipop and
weird saying- "Who loves ya, baby?". Then there's McCloud (quirk- he's a cowboy in the big city). Ironside (he's in a wheelchair). The list goes on.
Baretta falls firmly in this tradition, but established its own identity that transcended the formula. Tony Baretta (Robert Blake) was an Italian-American police detective living in a run-down apartment building with sage old ex-cop Billy (the great Tom Ewell) and a seriously neurotic cockatoo named Fred.
Tony uses his street smarts, advice from Billy, his mastery of disguises and timely tips from his street informant, Rooster (Michael D. Roberts, who by the way, I would love to see in a cage match with Huggy Bear) to solve the crime o' the week. What sets this series apart is the unconventional acting style and personality of Robert Blake in the title role and the humor that permeates every episode. Lots of laughs in this series, but also lots of satisfying, well done action scenes. And bonus points for having the coolest theme song EVER!