In 1979, an episode was done with the actors out of character, as a tribute to Jack Soo, who played Detective Nick Yemana. Soo had died of esophageal cancer in 1979. The episode consisted of unscripted reminiscences of Soo by the cast members, interspersed with clips of him from the show. At the end of this episode, the cast raised their coffee cups as a salute to him, a reference to the running joke throughout the series that Yemana always (but unintentionally) made very foul-tasting coffee for the other members of the squad.
Thirteen episodes showed scenes outside of the police station: Ramon, Graft, The Stakeout, Hair, The Hero, Grand Hotel, Fish, Wojo's Girl part 2, Contempt parts 1 and 2, Chinatown parts 1 and 2, and Eviction part 2.
When Harris (Ron Glass) is asked to produce a porn film for an undercover sting, he uses the name "Starry Night Productions" as his cover. Years later, show Writer Reinhold Weege used the name for his own production company, which produced Night Court (1984). This "connection" may account for many of the surreal (and humorous) elements found on both shows.
Hal Linden and Max Gail were the only actors to be featured in the opening credits every season. (Ron Glass was only a featured actor in the first season, appearing in only handful of segments with his name listed in the closing credits.)
The original pilot was titled "The Life and Times of Captain Barney Miller", but it was rejected by ABC. It aired as a special on August 22, 1974. ABC was negotiating a deal with Director John Rich at the time, due to his success with All in the Family (1971). Rich had seen the pilot, and was interested in working on the show. He insisted that ABC give it another chance as part of his deal, so the show was immediately picked up for a thirteen episode commitment. However, due to disagreements with Producer and Writer Danny Arnold, Rich left the show after two episodes to work on other projects for ABC.
Ron Carey (Levitt) wanted something as his trademark. Every time Levitt left the squad room, he opens the door with his left hand and, with his back to the edge of the door, rotates around the edge of the door, keeping his back against it, then closes the door.
Like many other shows of the period, the show "recycled" actors and actresses in various roles. For example: Florence Halop appeared as Ms. Mable Kleiner, Mrs. Pierce, Evelyn Holly, Karen Golden, Wanda LaMear, and Wilma Kestner. Don Calfa appeared as Mr. DiLucca, Angelo Dodi, Leon Bidell, Calvin J. Kendall, Gilbert Lesco, Arthur Thompson, and Eddie.
Two of the props used on the police station set, were the chalkboard, used to show whether the policemen were on-duty or off-duty, and the scarred cell door. When the show ended, the chalkboard and cell door were donated to the Smithsonian Television Museum. In addition to the names of the characters on the show, the board listed other names which were those of technicians who worked on the show's crew. The Smithsonian also has the police badges used by the actors (signed by Producer Danny Arnold) and Jack Soo's coffee mug.
Comedy writer and teacher Danny Simon pointed out the 3 divisions of each "Barney Miller" teleplay: (1) The story about a regular character (2) Two stories from the outside: (a) Someone in the cell; (b) someone in the squad room with a personal conflict.
Several references to the Broadway play and film Flower Drum Song (1961) were used in connection with Jack Soo's character, Detective Nick Yemana. Soo played Samuel Adams "Sammy" Fong in the movie, and M.C. Frankie Wing on the stage.
While Florence Halop is probably most famous for her appearances on this show, and starring role on Night Court (1984). There were numerous cross cast members in both shows. To mention a few, Jack DeLeon (Marty Morrison), Stanley Brock (best known as Bruno Bender), Kenneth Tigar (best know as Stefan Koepeknie), and Phil Leeds (various). There are many more.
Most of the detectives on the show call each other by their last names (Dietrich, Harris, Wojo, Wentworth, Leavitt, Fish) with the exceptions of Amenguale, Yemana, and Miller who are usually referred to by their first names, and the exception to both first and last names was for the semi-regular character of Inspector Frank Luger, who was almost always referred to as just Inspector.
In real life,Gregory Sierra (Who played Chano for the first 2 seasons before he left for unknown reasons) was Puerto Rican Decent and he can speak Spanish (Whenever he says something in Spanish,this is improvation).
In season two, episode nineteen, "Massage Parlor", Florence Halop played a character by the name of Ms. Mabel Kleiner. Nearly ten years later, she co-starred on Night Court (1984), which was created by Reinhold Weege (who also wrote several episodes of this show), as Florence Kleiner, a role she would play until her death in 1986.
During the first two seasons, Sergeant Chano Amenguale (Gregory Sierra) disappeared when Sierra got a lead role on another sitcom, which promptly crashed and burned, beating Fish to the punch by a season,from "Barney Miller:Ramon" to "Barney Miller:The Mole".
George Murdock,who appeared as Internal Affairs Lt. Benjamin Scanlon in Barney Miller (1974-1982),would later appeared as a recurring actor for/in "Night Court"(1983-1992),created by Reinhold Weege (Weege wrote some Barney Miller episodes in the 70s and 80s).
In Christmas 1976 episode,the young woman call Nick "Jack" before she leaves,when she did,Nick says,"It's Nick" and then the live audience laughs."Jack" was a namesake for Jack Soo,Nick Yeamana's actor.
Jack Soo was absent for several episodes (before he returned) because he was sick at the time (he got cancer).However,he recovered and later returned for several episodes before he died at the age of 61 by the same cancer that killed him.