Directed by: Noam Pitlik
Written by: Howard Albrecht and Sol Weinstein (story), Chris Hayward and Danny Arnold (teleplay)
Air Date: March 20, 1975
Previous: Ms. Cop
Next: The Guest
Guest Starring: James Gregory, Titos Vandis, Gabe Dell, Marla Gibbs
"Vigilante" was the ninth episode of the first season of Barney Miller.
The 12th is getting reports of a vigilante who is attacking and seriously injuring muggers and other hoodlums committing crimes. Inspector Luger (James Gregory, the dimwitted Senator from The Manchurian Candidate) comes in to yell at Barney for not finding a Batman roaming around his precinct. Then Luger, an old-school cop from the days when "old school" meant cracking skulls and terrorizing the populace, starts criticizing Barney for being too nice to people and actually talking to the residents of the 12th rather than having his men bash people with batons. Finally the 12th catches the vigilante, who to everyone's surprise turns out to be a kindly old man, Mr. Escobar.
Meanwhile, because it's 1975 and people are horribly bigoted, a crossdresser is arrested for being a crossdresser. The crossdresser, one Al Schreiber (Gabe Dell), wonders what he did wrong; Wojo says he was arrested for an "unspecified misdemeanor" while Barney, usually the liberal, enlightened one, says that it's illegal to wear a "disguise".
First appearance of James Gregory as Inspector Luger, who would be a recurring character throughout the entire run of Barney Miller. Gabe Dell, who plays Al Schreiber, was one of the "Dead End Kids" when he was a boy, with a career that dated back to the 1930s and movies like Dead End and Angels with Dirty Faces.
- The Bore: Luger's habits of telling boring stories about the old days is established in his very first appearance. As he's launching into another spiel about his old buddies Brown, Foster, and Kleiner, Barney rolls his eyes and says he has work to do.
- Connect the Deaths: Not deaths, but Barney demonstrates to the other cops that the vigilante probably lives in the 12th by showing them pins on a map marking vigilante attacks. When Wojo asks what the one pin in the East River signifies, Barney says "That's what's holding up the map."
- Cops Need the Vigilante: In the end the men of the 12th can't bring themselves to arrest Mr. Escobar again.
- Double Take: All the other cops do this when they come into the squad room and meet Al.
- "El Niño" Is Spanish for "The Niño":Luger: How do you say "vigilante" in Spanish?
- Let Off by the Detective: Mr. Escobar is already facing a court date for the previous vigilante attacks. At the end of the episode Wojo brings in a mugger who apparently hurt a woman so badly that she might die. The mugger, who has a cut over his eyes, says that he was attacked. He gives a description that matches Mr. Escobar. The detectives send out an APB for a Russian suspect.
- Manly Tears: Inspector Luger, the ridiculous goof, bursts into tears as he remembers how he and his buddies used to beat up criminals.
- Vigilante Man: Mr. Escobar, a kindly, good-natured old man who regards himself as simply helping the police out and doesn't understand why he's in trouble.
- Wholesome Cross Dresser: Al Shriber, a nice guy who asks the police just what it is that he's done wrong. This being a very very 1975 episode, he's a target of mockery, with all the cops doing double takes when they see him and Capt. Miller himself simply assuming that it's proper to arrest crossdresers.