We all knew it had to happen but wished it wouldn’t. The great Abe Vigoda has actually passed on at age 94, after years of his continued existence being the punchline of one of the great cosmic jokes. In recent year’s Vigoda made a few public appearances as part of Drew Friedman’s study of great jewish comedians and he was always the star of the show believe me.
Vigoda of course appear in The Godfather and Barney Miller;—the 70s sitcom about a wacky bunch of police detectives that was hugely influential on generations of quirky workplace comedies that would follow. But he also starred in his own obscure Barney Miller spin-off, called Fish. It co-starred Flornece Stanley as his suffering wife Bernice as they took in five multi-ethnic problem foster children. Hijinks ensued. The comedy trope of a cranky old coot and free-wheeling youngsters is a staple that always works. Except it didn’t really this time and the show only lasted a season or two. Todd Bridges, pre-Different Strokes played one of the lovable scamps. I dimly remember an episode where Steve Landesburg’s bizarre Sgt. Deitrich visited the kids and I felt very alarmed for their safety.
There is very little about this show online, but it was very brown, just like the ’70s.