Never take the phrase "timeless TV" literally. There are shows that will make us laugh long after the principles involved are no longer with us - 'I Love Lucy', 'Monty Python's Flying Circus', 'Get Smart'. (Although I admit not every show will elicit similar reactions.) And there are dramas that keep us captivated decades later - 'Columbo', the original 'Star Trek', 'Perry Mason'. (But again - to each his own.)
But even so, we're not blinded by the signs of aging in these shows. Reality has overtaken 'Star Trek' with communicators and computers - even the sequels are more believable based on just the set designs. 'Columbo' is always tripped up by the technology which seems antiquated now - television recording devices, telephones, home movie centers.
But none of that takes away from what makes them so intriguing so many years later - the heart of these shows lies in the characters and their dynamic with each other. That's what makes them immortal.
One good example is 'Barney Miller'. Modern police work in New York City has gone far beyond what we see here - all of the files would have been digitized and catalogued properly in a computer backup system so that Nick Yemana couldn't lose them under magazines. No typewriters, coffee pods instead of that old-fashioned brewing system used by the Ol' One-Two. And they certainly would have moved on to a more efficient office space in which to work.
Yet what was important were the types of criminals and victims and witnesses they had to deal with. Those characters were immortal!
I started watching it again on a daily basis because I was missing the type of people I used to work with - not just my co-workers, but the clientele who entered our lobby each night. I always said my job was like a front-row seat for a theatrical performance.
So in that way, the show is timeless. But the episodes have to be considered as taking place from the mid-1970s to the early 80s. Beyond that, they can be mixed and matched on the rerun schedule for the most part - one still has to take into account running storylines (Wojo's quest to make sergeant; Harris' book deal; Fish's impending retirement.... You don't want to follow up the episode in which Mr. Cotterman dies with one in which he had the window of his store shot out.
And of course, the holidays, elections, the Olympics, certain other news events - they have to be time-locked as well.
And sometimes they can be pinned down to a more specific date due to some small bit o' trivia in the episode.
Nick Yemana had the lead on a case involving a store owner who was robbed by a guy who threatened to blow the place up with the dynamite he had shoved down his pants. The victim said that he had seen a similar robbery already... in a TV show.
So Nick conducted his own kind of research - he read that week's TV Guide....
We got several looks at the cover, but never anything too overt. Today they would have made a fuss over it since it would have been a case of cross-pollinating promotion - one ABC show promoting another.
The cover was dedicated to Donnie and Marie Osmond who had their own variety show on the "alphabet network".
The date on the magazine is October 8-14, 1977, a week when there was no new episode for 'Donny And Marie'. On October 7, the week before, their guests were Paul Lynde, Neil Sedaka, Robert Young, and Miss America 1978, Susan Perkins. When the show returned on the 21st, their guests were Glenn Campbell and Bernadette Peters.
So it was during this week when the episode occurred. Nick must have run down to Mr. Roth's news stand and picked up a copy of the current TV Guide in order to do his research. (No need to have one on hand - there was no TV in the squad room.)
This episode aired on October 27, 1977 so it was a delayed projection of the events for the Trueniverse audience.
As to what day it actually took place, I'm going to guess no later than Tuesday the 11th. After all, by Wednesday Mr. Roth would have replaced that issue with the next one which would go into effect on Saturday the 15th.
Maybe. Maybe not. But by saying it happened on a Tuesday, it gave me a reason to turn this into a Two For Tuesday theme!