J. KNIGSTON PIERCE HAS POSTED A GREAT ARTICLE OVER AT THE RAP SHEET ON THE '70s COP DRAMA BARRETTA:
One of the most interesting things about the 1970s cop drama Baretta is how it made it on the air in the first place. We have a combination of an actor’s reticence, a writer’s innovation, and James Garner’s willingness to return to television to thank for it.
TV historian and radio host Ed Robertson provides the twisted background details in the opening chapter of his book Thirty Years of The Rockford Files: An Inside Look at America’s Greatest Detective Series. As he explains it, in 1972 writer-producer Roy Huggins -- already the brains behind such hits as Maverick, 77 Sunset Strip, and The Fugitive -- came up with the idea for a series about a private investigator who took on only “closed cases.” However, he had to set that aside, because he was already involved with another project. It was a police drama based loosely on the real-life career of Newark, New Jersey, cop David Toma, who was known for butting heads with his superiors, using disguises to bring down malefactors, and showing compassion for some of the criminals he sought. With the backing of Universal Television, Huggins put together a pilot for Toma, starring Tony Musante, Simon Oakland, and Susan Strasberg; it sold to ABC-TV. Toma debuted in the fall of 1973, with TV Guide describing its protagonist as “a maverick who prefers to work alone, enjoys taking big risks, and doesn’t like to use his gun.”
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