An oddball cop who got the job done – in the 1970s Baretta was a unique cop show.
Played by Robert Blake, Det. Anthony (Tony) Baretta lived in a non-descript apartment with his cockatoo Fred, and is a regular undercover cop exposing the bad guys.
The series Toma, showcasing a highly realistic view of cop life and played by Tony Musante aired in 1973-74 and although popular, was criticized for its extreme violence.
Musante left after one season and the ABC TV series was reworked to become Baretta with Blake in 1975. Although still gritty, the series toned down the depictions of violence but didn’t shy away from the reality of crime from theft and organized crime to drugs, prostitution and murder.
Blake’s character had several catch phrases including “You can take dat to da bank” and “And dat’s da name of date tune”. Every episode showed him in disguise and when not on the job, he wore a trademark t-shirt, jeans and cap.
He used his neighbourhood pals as informants to make his job easier, including Rooster the pimp, Little Moe the shoeshine guy and Mr. Muncie, who owned the local liquor store, while keeping an eye on Mr. Nicholas, the local mob boss.
At the precinct, Inspector Shiller, Lieutenant Hal and Detective Fats kept their eye on Baretta while Detective Foley was always watching to see if Baretta would make a mistake.
After four seasons, Baretta’s run was done, but the realistic view of the world of cops was once again shown on the small screen.