1 9 7 7 – 1 9 7 8 (USA)
35 x 30 minute episodes
This sitcom was a spin-off from the hugely popular cop comedy Barney Miller.
Phil Fish (Abe Vigoda) was the dilapidated detective from Barney’s New York watch-house. Now retired from the NYPD, Fish and his wife Bernice (Florence Stanley) decided to move out of their New York apartment and into a run-down house, in order to become foster parents to five racially mixed street kids for the “Persons In Need Of Supervision” (P.I.N.S) agency.
Loomis (Todd Bridges) was the preteen hipster who befriended the dead cat in Fish’s basement; Mike (Lenny Bari) was the oldest – charming but streetwise; Victor (John Cassisi) was the blustery tough guy; Jilly (Denise Miller) the angelic con artist, and Diane (Sarah Natoli) the young TV addict.
Psychologist Charlie Harrison (Barry Gordon) tried to help but didn’t really and Fish and the non-stop talker, Bernice, had to deal with everything.
For the first few episodes, which ran concurrently with Barney Miller, poor Fish was still putting in time at the precinct house, but eventually, he was allowed to retire and expend his energy trying to keep the young tearaways in order.
The quarrelsome quintet put pressure on Phil and Bernice’s marriage and by the end of the series, they were contemplating separation.
In real life, also being somewhat undisciplined, and with little of its parent show’s class, the series was separating rapidly from its audience, and after 35 episodes, Fish was finally reeled in.
ABC had attempted to float a Phil Fish spin-off two years before this series began, airing a pilot titled Fish And Bernice on 4 December 1975 which co-starred Doris Belack as his wife, Bernice, and Emily Levine as their daughter Beverley. This idea was not developed further.