Tony Baretta is a street-smart, maverick undercover cop with the NYPD, who won't hesitate for a second to toss the rule book out the window if it stands between himself and taking some bad guy off the street. His unconventional methods often land him in hot water with his boss (Inspector Schiller, later Lt. Brubaker), but as long as Baretta was getting the job done, there wasn't much they could do. Ex-cop Billy and Huggy Bear-wannabe Rooster were Baretta's main men on the street, and Fred was his pet cockatoo. Written by
Marty McKee <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Thursday nights just wouldn't have been the same growing up without Baretta. The show was tough and dirty and gritty and all the things my middle class suburban family upbringing wasn't. It was a view of the outside world, and Tony Baretta was the tour guide to all of the foul things that were waiting out there in "The City." He was the protector. The show was effectively lightened, though, by comedic parts by Rooster, the pimp/informant, and by Baretta himself, who could don some pretty outrageous costumes when he went "undercover." TV in the '70's didn't allow any profanity, of course - but even at age 12, I knew Baretta would have cursed like a sailor. Baretta was real - he lost people he cared about to crime, and he went on drinking binges and lashed out at people he cared about when he got emotional.
The first season on DVD is a must-have if you like crime drama. Along with "Hill Street Blues" and "CSI," Baretta defines the genre and set the stage for the others by giving us substantive supporting characters and an ensemble cast that only got better with successive seasons. Hopefully, with the recent acquittal of Robert Blake, season 2 will be released on DVD soon.
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