"The story you are about to see is true", "Just the facts, ma'am", "We were working the day watch" - phrases which became so popular as to inspire much parody - set the realistic tone of this early police drama. The show emphasized careful police work and the interweaving of policemen's professional and personal lives. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Dragnet was based on an early 1949 radio show called,"Dragnet". It starred Jack Webb as Sgt. Joe Friday, a dedicated cop whose life seemed void of any interests other than being in law inforcement. He coined the phrase, "just the facts ma'am" which made him appear polite even though a little overzealous at times. Webb stressed realism going to great lengths to match the police language and paperwork of the Los Angeles Police Dept. When Dragnet came to TV in 1951, Barton Yarborough was featured as Friday's partner SGT Ben Romero.Barton Yarborough died after only three episodes with the rest of the season featuring Barney Phillips as Sgt. Ed Jacobs. In the fall of 1952, a former child star, Ben Alexander replaced Phillips as Friday's sidekick, Officer Frank Smith. It was Alexander who gave the show a little humor at times. The character of Frank Smith was a family man who would relate his home life experiences to the serious Joe Friday. It worked well. Dragnet left the air in 1959. During its time, the show did introduce some love interests for Joe Friday but none were too serious.
In 1967, a new version of Dragnet was introduced called Dragnet '67 and later Dragnet '68, etc. Webb again starred as Sgt. Joe Friday but now it was character actor Harry Morgan taking over as his partner, Officer Bill Gannon.The show lasted just over two years.
Dragnet will be remembered for its innovative style never before seen on a television drama prior to that time. It took advantage of close-ups and realistic dialog thanks to Webb, one of our greatest actor/directors. Reruns are rare but do exist. They show a rare look at Los Angeles as it once was. Smoggy but with less traffic.
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