Barney Miller

Season 1 Episode 11

Escape Artist

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

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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  • The First Perfect Barney Miller Episode

    Every series takes a little while to find its footing. Characters develop, ideas are tried and abandoned, an identity is sought for. In its 11th episode Barney Miller managed find all three in a terrific story that features all the things that will Barney Miller the classic it is today.

    It's a sign of great writing and acting that this early into its run, the show hits what seems to be an effortless grand slam home run. The characters are fully formed and have developed a casual camaraderie typical of people who work closely. The comedy is sharp while never feeling silly or farcical (although it is a hilarious episode). The pacing allows each character their moments to shine. And the humanity that is the hallmark of the show shines through.

    What's especially amazing is how (whether through accident or design) all the story lines running through the squad room share the same theme. This is a slice of life all about the costs of pursuing your dreams. We have Roscoe Lee Browne's charming and wise fugitive who no jail, prison or cell can hold unless he wishes it, but whose constant escapes have added years on to his prison sentence that he otherwise would not have served (Browne received an Emmy nomination for this role). We have Leonard Frey's crackpot engineer whose dreams of flying have put him on the ledge of a building with homemade wings and then into cell in the 12th Precinct. And we have Harris whose dreams of success have led him to attempt a career as a novelist. The ups and downs of Harris' writing career will run from this episode to the very end of the series.

    This is the first truly memorable episode of the series and one that is not only laugh out loud funny, but strangely thought provoking as well. It is one of those episodes that you will show friends to demonstrate why this series is still so fondly remembered after all these years.

    And I guarantee you will never hear "The Impossible Dream" the same way again.