Baretta is a American detective television series which ran on ABC from 1975 to 1978. The show was a milder version of a successful 1973–74 ABC series, Toma, starring Tony Musante as chameleon-like, real-life New Jersey police officer David Toma. While popular, Toma received intense criticism at the time for its realistic and frequent depiction of police and criminal violence. When Musante left the series after a single season, the concept was retooled as Baretta, with Robert Blake in the title role.
Detective Anthony Vincenzo "Tony" Baretta is an unorthodox plainclothes cop (badge #609) with the 53rd precinct, who lives with Fred, his Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, in apartment 2C at the run-down King Edward Hotel in an unnamed Eastern city (presumably Newark, New Jersey). The actual location was obviously Los Angeles.
Like his model David Toma, Tony Baretta wore many disguises on the job. When not in disguise, Baretta wore a T-shirt, jeans and a soft cap. He often carried an unlit cigarette in his lips or behind his ear. His catchphrases included "You can take dat to the bank" and "And that‘s the name of dat tune." When exasperated he would occasionally speak in asides to his late father, Louie Baretta.
Tony drove a rusted-out 1966 Chevy 4-door Impala sedan nicknamed "The Blue Ghost" (license plate 532 BEN). He hung out at Ross’s Billiard Academy and referred to his numerous girlfriends as his "cousins."
The theme song, "Keep Your Eye on the Sparrow", was written by Dave Grusin and M. Ames; initially an instrumental, lyrics were added in later seasons that were sung by Sammy Davis Jr.. Every episode of Baretta began with the song, which contained the motto, "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time."