If it hadn't been for a misunderstanding between Barney's producer, Danny Arnold, and ABC execs, the show might have gone on. Arnold, 57, made Barney Miller his obsession since the show's first days as a midseason replacement in 1975. Virtually living on the set, he brought the series into the Top 15, spun oft Fish with the late Abe Vigoda, and saw Barney win Emmys for writing and direction. But this year, as ratings dropped, ABC stalled on Arnold's request to raise the sitcom's budget above $500,000 per episode—perhaps in part to expand its lucrative syndication. So Arnold announced plans to disband the 12th Precinct, criticizing the network. "They've acted petulantly and disrespectfully," he says. "They've treated us all as social lepers." An ABC spokesman diplomatically says the network is "sorry to see the show go." But some cast members found reason for cheer. Says Ron (Officer Carl Levitt) Carey: "When I die and God asks, 'What did you do in this life?' I'll say, 'Barney Miller,' and maybe He'll say, 'Okay, come on in.' "
The day, like so many others on the Hollywood set of ABC's Barney Miller, involved 12 grueling hours of taping. Otherwise, the show's 170th and final episode was unlike any other event in the eight-year history of TV's "ole One-Two" Precinct. During breaks, cast members cried, laughed, hugged, reminisced and even wore black armbands to mourn the passing of Barney. Said Steve Landesberg, a/k/a Detective Dietrich: "It hurts too much to let it go."