Dragnet

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NBC (ended 1959)

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skeeter291

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SHOW REVIEWS
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Dragnet

Show Summary

The program opened each week with these words from Det. Sgt. Joe Friday: "This is the city, Los Angeles, California. I work here, I carry a badge." Then that arresting theme music began to play ("Dum-de-dum-dum"). Probably the most successful police drama in television history. Dragnet's hallmark was its appearance of realism, from the documentary-style narration by Joe Friday, to the cases drawn from the files of the real L.A.P.D., to its attention to the details of police work ("It was 3:55. . . We were working the day watch out of homocide"). Viewers were reminded of the unglamorous dead ends and the constant interruptions of their private lives that plague real policemen, and this made the final shoot-out and capture of the criminal all the more exciting. At the end of each episode, after the criminal was apprehanded, an announcer would describe what happened at the subsequent trial and the severity of the sentence. The series was created and directed by Jack Webb himself. It's catchphrases and devices became national bywords and were widely satirized. There was Webb's terse "My name is Friday--I'm a cop," and "Just the facts, ma'am" It was revived in 1967 as Dragnet 1967 and again in 1989 as "The New Dragnet". This was followed by a short-lived revival in 2002 with Ed O' Neill as Joe Friday. The series was renamed L.A. Dragnet in 2003 and canceled shortly thereafter. A theatrical film in 1987 with Dan Ackroyd and Tom Hanks also surfaced. Other spinoffs included Adam-12 (1968-75) and Emergency (1972-77).moreless
Jack Webb

Jack Webb

Sergeant Joe Friday

Herb Ellis

Herb Ellis

Officer Frank Smith (1952-1953)

Ben Alexander

Ben Alexander

Officer Frank Smith

George Fenneman

George Fenneman

Announcer

Barton Yarborough

Barton Yarborough

Sergeant Ben Romero

Barney Phillips

Barney Phillips

Sergeant Ed Jacobs

Today
4:00pm
WZME
Thursday
4:00pm
WZME
Friday
4:00pm
WZME
SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Better than CSI

    9.0
    Even for a show that ended more that 50 years ago, this show was a real watcher like the Green Hornet and the other old time action shows. Even the new CSI shows have competition here with this old timer, which I must say sure did just fine with the plots, acting and dialog.
  • Cutting edge, ahead of its time.

    10
    Dragnet is called the Granddaddy of all cop shows, and it's still the best, and the most realistic. It was entertainment, but not pure escapism. As in the color version of the late 60s, the viewer was guided through each episode by Jack Webb's in-character narration as Detective Sgt. Joe Friday. Friday had various partners before settling on Ben Alexander as Frank Smith. Smith helped provide some comic relief to counter Webb's stoic demeanor, as did Harry Morgan as Bill Gannon in the 60s version. The viewer saw only what the detectives saw, and didn't see any action taking place where the detectives were not present. Some more recent police dramas like "Law And Order" have a similar documentary style, but without the commanding presence of Joe Friday, one of the most famous cops in the history of police fiction, rivaling Sherlock Holmes (a case can be made for Dirty Harry too). Dragnet was not controversial like some of today's cop shows, including "Law And Order", but it didn't shy away from hard topics, like child molestation, something that wasn't discussed on TV until a generation had passed. In spite of this, and the fact that it's based closely on real cases, it's often panned by modern sophists, in part because the bad guys really were bad, not misunderstood victims of society. The emphasis was on the victims of crime. Dragnet began on NBC radio in 1949, and like on TV, Webb did the narration, especially useful on radio, and with various partners before Smith. It's opening theme, called "Danger Ahead", is one of the most recognizable tunes ever, and commonly represents an ominous development. More than six decades later, Dragnet still sets the standard.moreless
  • The grandaddy of them all.

    10
    The original Dragnet, which ran from 1951 to 1959, was the grandaddy of all TV cop shows. Without Dragnet the police drama as we know it today would have never been born. Star, producer, director, and writer Jack Webb took what was originally a radio drama and gave us a glimpse into the lives of ordinary policemen and their routine which was often boring but filled with drama and tension on occasion.



    Dragnet took its scripts from real life police files. As the narration said, "The story you are about to see is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent." The show seemed real at times and the LAPD frequently reported instances of people showing up at police stations and asking to see Sgt. Joe Friday (Webb's character). Their stock answer was, "Sorry, it's his day off."



    Dragnet had a second incarnation under Webb's guidance and would have two more after his death. One in the late 80's and the other in 2002 starring Ed O'Neill. None had the impact or garnered the ratings of the original though. Perhaps Dragnet was a product of its times--the easy going era of the 1950's. Trying to update it made for interesting television at times but you couldn't duplicate the success or the impact of the original.moreless
  • DON'T TOUCH THAT DIAL! THE RELEASE OF THE DUKES OF HAZZARD MOVIE CONTINUES A RICH HOLLYWOOD TRADITION. IT'S CALLED "REPURPOSING CONTENT."

    Serenity Now-- It's TV.COM's rundown of television-to-movie conversions

  • THE MAN WHO PLAYED DOCTOR HIRAM BAKER ON LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE HAS DIED OF CANCER.

    Kevin Hagen dies at 77

    • Superior Dragnet series, '51 or '67?
      Original 1951 Dragnet was the best of the 2 TV incarnations with Jack Webb in my estimation. The second run of Dragnet was not as ...
      01/06/10
      4
    • The cops
      To my mind, these are still two of the best police/detective characters ever put on screen. I watch a lot of police and mystery dr...
      08/30/09
      4
    • Theme music
      It has to be one of the most effective and popular of all time. It's just so well identified with this show. I can't think of many...
      11/10/07
      6
    • DVD's
      Do you think this show will ever get Season DVD's ?
      03/01/06
      2
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    More Info About This Show

    Categories

    Drama

    Themes

    Classics, Crime