Barney Miller

Season 1 Episode 11

Escape Artist

Aired Thursday 8:00 PM Apr 10, 1975 on ABC

Episode Recap

Prologue: Yemana reads something that Harris is typing and says it doesn't sound like an arrest report; Harris tells him that he's writing a novel. Yemana tells Fish after he comes into the squad room. Then when Chano and Wojo arrive, Yemana tells them, too. Harris tells Chano that it's a week in the life of an NYPD detective. He says that he was laying in bed the night before and said to himself, 'There are 8 million stories in the naked city and I'm gonna sell one of them.' Barney comes in and all the detectives tell him about Harris's book. Barney asks about any crimes going on and Yemana tells him, 'The coffee.' Then Harry the snitch comes in. Barney asks Yemana how much money they have in petty cash. In Barney's office, Harry says that he has info that will cost him a hundred dollars. Barney asks him if he doesn't do anything for the money, if he doesn't do anything just because he's a good person; Harry says no. Barney asks why he doesn't get a different job; Harry says that he doesn't have a feel for anything else. Barney tells him that for $100, he needs a little hint. Harry tells him that Charlie Jeffers, a convict who has escaped from five different prisons, is in the precinct area. Barney tells him he'll get $50 now and $50 when they bring him in. Yemana then comes in and says they only have $42 in petty cash; Barney tells Harry '$42 now, $58 when we find him.' Part One: Barney tells Nick to check APB's on Jeffers. Harry offers to check on a couple of fugitives from Chicago for 25 bucks. Nick shows Barney an APB on Jeffers having escaped from Attica three weeks ago. Barney pays Harry and he leaves saying 'I hate doing this.' Barney has Chano and Wojo go bring Jeffers in. Chano tells Harris he could put Jeffers' arrest in his book. Harris says he can't put real people in his book because he could get sued. Chano says he wouldn't sue, but Harris says that once the book gets made into a hit movie, he would change his tune. Chano says 'You're right' and leaves. Later, Harris asks Nick how to say 'Get me a cup of coffee' in Japanese because he has a Japanese cop in his book who always says that. Nick asks if there are any other Japanese detectives, Harris says no, Nick asks who's going to understand, and Harris says it's just something that adds a little color to the book. Nick says it as Fish comes out of the restroom and Fish says, 'Get it yourself. What am I, your maid?' Barney then reads some of what Harris has written and reminds him to do his job. Fish takes a call from a lady about a bird on a roof across the street from her, but she describes it as 'weighing 180 lbs and wearing a wool hat.' Wojo and Chano then come in with Jeffers. Chano tells Barney everyone downstairs was excited. Wojo tells Jeffers not to escape and Jeffers says he has no intention to. Fish tells him he recognizes him from APB circulars and says they have the same sort of problem. When Jeffers says that he's been in prison for most of the past 35 years, Fish says 'At leat you can get out once in a while.' As Chano takes Jeffers' info, Wojo says that a tv station has called for an interview. Barney says they have to have permission from the NYPD public information department and the state attorney general's office. Jeffers asks how they caught him and Chano says that someone recognized him, which was tough luck. Jeffers says that he may have wanted to be caught. Harris, overhearing them, writes down things that Jeffers says, then Chano puts him in the cage. In Barney's office, in succsession, Wojo tells him about the birdman, Fish says that the attorney general's office is bringing some officers to take Jeffers back to Attica, Yemana says that the public information office says no interviews about Jeffers until the head of the office gets there, and Chano says that reporters and photographers are downstairs. Everyone leaves the office to find the squad room empty: Wojo and Harris gone to take care of the bird man and the cage door open. Jeffers then comes out of the bathroom singing 'Goodbye, My Coney Island Baby' and goes back in the cage.' Part Two: Barney tells the men that the public information officer is talking to the press. He sees that Jeffers is still in the cage and Nick says 'Only because he likes it here.' Chano reads some passages that Harris wrote putting himself in place of Chano trying to catch a fugitive. Chano doesn't like being left out; Barney tells him it's poetic license. Wojo and Harris then come in with the bird man, Roland Gusek, who has a pair of self-designed wings. Wojo says that they chased him over three buildings and swears that he got airborne a couple of times. When Barney says that he could have gotten killed, Gusek says that obscurity is more terrifying than death. Barney points out that self-destruction is illegal, which Gusek calles 'archaic bupkes.' Barney tells Harris to call Bellevue to pick Gusek up. He then tells Jeffers that reporters downstairs said that he has spent 35 years in prison for stealing one car. Jeffers calls 1-5 years for grand larceny auto and 25 years escape time 'compound interest.' Gusek tells Wojo to stop talking to him as a child, that he's an engineer. Wojo tells him that they will find him a choo-choo. Gusek insists that the wings are designed to give him the configurations of a thrush and his body is a perfect air foil. As Wojo leads him out, he yells that culture is dead and that when people spit on pioneers that society is finished. Barney gives Jeffers a cup of tea and asks how someone who is obviously intelligent got caught up in the things he did. Jeffers says that 'Logical consequences are the scarecrows of fools and the beacons of wise men.' Harris goes to write it down. Barney says Jeffers has found an admirer and Jeffers asks him not to tell Harris the quote is from Aldous Huxley until he leaves. Barney tells him that he could avoid all this trouble if he just didn't try to escape. Jeffers says he is an impatient man. He says that the secret to being in prison is to accept that escape is impossible, but the more he escaped the more he could not accept it. Barney asks if he will try to escape again and Jeffers says that it isn't as interesting on the outside as it used to be. Barney suggests he try for parole and not escape again. Jeffers says that the challenge of escape is no longer there and he may have to be 'very, very bored.' Chano tells Harris that he has some nerve putting himself in the escape story. Harris says that authors always use first-person singular in fiction. Chano then asks that the next time they find themselves in an alley with some guy with a knife, 'How would you like to find yourself first-person and singular?' Wojo puts Gusek in the cage with Jeffers. Gusek says that he's going to swim the Atlantic Ocean next April. Jeffers tells him he admires his determination. Gusek says that the difference between mankind and animals and that mankind aspires, that he tries to reach the stars. This leads him to sing 'The Impossible Dream.' Later, Gusek is taken by some attendants from Bellevue. He insists on taking his wings with him and Barney allows it. He then tells Jeffers that if he stays put, he could be up for parole in a couple of years. Lt. Faraday comes in to take Jeffers away. Jeffers assumes that he's going back to Attica, but Faraday says he is going to another prison with a 100-percent escape-proof cell. Jeffers says that he wishes Faraday hadn't said that. Jeffers says goodbye to all the detectives. Harris says chapter two of is book is all him, Fish says that he has Thursday in the pool, then Jeffers gives Wojo back his handcuffs. Barney has Chano and Nick follow Jeffers to make sure he gets in the car. One of the attendants comes up and says that Gusek kicked his partner in the groin and escaped. Fish and Wojo go to help. Chano comes back in and says that Gusek is up on the roof trying to fly. Barney starts to call the fire department, but Nick comes back in and says that Gusek jumped. Barney asks if he was killed, but Nick says he flew all the way to the ground and landed right next to the ambulance he was to go to Bellevue in. Nick then says they took him to Bellevue and Barney says, 'I don't know what for.' Epilogue: Harris insists that Fish doesn't know Japanese. Nick insists he does, so Harris tells him to ask Fish how he feels. Nick does and Fish says 'Get it yourself. What am I, your maid?' Barney reads the story of Jeffers' arrest in the paper, pointing out Wojo's name is misspelled. Wojo insists that it's spelled like it sounds. Chano asks Harris how he can explain it in his book when he wasn't there. Harris shows him the dedication of the book, which is to the men of the precinct, listing them all...and spelling Wojo's name wrong. Wojo tells Barney, 'Look at that spelling.' Barney replies, 'M-I-L-L-E-R. Looks okay to me.'