The first police drama I ever watched and still, in my opinion, the best. Dragnet successfully made the transition from radio to television.
Joe Friday and his partner Bill Gannon worked in every department: Homicide, Robbery, Juvinelle, Bunco. Joe (played by show creator Jack Webb) was the straight arrow, by the book guy. Not that Harry Morgan's character was any less of a policeman, he had an obligation to his wife and children.
Some shows are lighthearted, like "The Christmas Story" where a small child has "stolen" the baby Jesus from the church's nativity to give him a ride in the red wagon he got for Christmas, to serious topics like child neglect in "The Big High".
Before the "ripped from the headlines" storylines came Dragnet's scripts. Each crime was based on real police files, but changed enough that even the criminal could not recognize it.
This makes you appreciate what police work was like before the C.S.I. era. Not that they didn't take fingerprints, but once you had them, you couldn't just load it into the computer and wait for a match, it was done manually.
I always loved when Sgt. Friday would give his lenghty speeches about crime and how something starts our small and suddenly is a full-blown epidemic.
Dragnet used a small pool of guest stars but always playing a different role.
The other part I find amusing, looking back, the show from the late '60s, when the younger generation was rebeling, there were several shows that dealt with drugs. The kids always told the police that when they grew up and became lawyers, they were going to legalize marijuana. Here we are, 40 years later, I'm sure those kids have grown up, but it is still illegal.
Jack Webb went on to make other shows, including the police drama Adam 12 and Emergency!, where he was entirely behind the camera.
In 2003 LA Dragnet came out starring Ed O'Neil as Sgt. Joe Friday, but it just wasn't the same.