The mid-seventies was a time when preachy, diverse and public minded sit-coms ruled the air waves. Over the top in the way they presented previously "taboo" topics, these sitcoms played on the social and racial tensions that were very much a part of that era. Barney Miller wasn't really like that. Although it featured a very diverse cast and dealt with such topical subjects as drugs, death and even the intergration of women into the police force, the show was very sedate in its pacing and often quite subtle in the way it made its audience laugh.
Originally based on the character of Barney both in the office and at home, the show's producers quickly realized that the real charm of the show was in the way the office functioned. Once the formula was set, the audience never left either of the two rooms, the dectective's squad bay and the Captain's office, on the upper floor of the 12th Precinct. The characters would come and go, often returning with arestees (many of whom became recurring characters) and the comedy unfolded in the way the officers related their expereinces while out of the office and in how they conducted their interviews.
In those Pre-Dilbert days, the true drudgery of office work was seldom seen in a clearer light than the one that Barney Miller shone upon it. Anyone who works as a public servant today can instantly identify with the show and the poor men who struggle every day to Protect and Serve the public while attempting to preserve their own humor and sanity. This is a great show, sorry if not everyone gets it.