"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 <email@example.com>
The architect and the blueprint of the Police Dramas. Remembering the one and only "Dragnet" television series on its 65th anniversary
As we commemorate the 65th golden anniversary of one of the greatest if not the architectural format of the police drama it is evident to see why after all these years why "Dragnet" has stood the test of time. "Dragnet" was directly responsible for the maturation and realistic portrayal of police dramas(that set the tone for other police dramas to follow). In cooperation and support of the Los Angeles Police Department,"Dragnet" set out to do what no other drama has done and it mainly focused on the actual police stories as it follow a strict system of coordinated measures to apprehend criminals and suspects. Jack Webb the show's creator-producer-director-and actor(under his production company Mark VII Limited) was largely responsible for this. And to see why "Dragnet" was such a success that it lasted into a franchise that still to this day phenomenal beyond expectations.
The program opened each week with these words from Detective-Sargent Joe Friday: "This is the city. Los Angeles,California. I work here. I carry a badge." Dragnet's hallmark was its appearance of realism that were actual cases that were from the files of the Los Angeles Police Department to the documentary style narration by Joe Friday,to the accuracy and sheer detail of police work(9:15...It was sunny in Los Angeles we were working the day watch out of homicide...the boss is Captain Perry, my partner is Frank Smith. my name's Friday).
The origins of "Dragnet" first began on radio for NBC that premiered on June 3,1949 lasting until July 26,1957 for 314 episodes. Then after its success of radio made the transition to television on December 16,1951 where it was one of the biggest television hits in the history of NBC lasting eight seasons and 276 black-and-white episodes until August 23,1959 when Jack Webb abruptly pull the plug on the series during which garnered high ratings. Then after an eight year hiatus "Dragnet" returned to NBC in a new format that lasted three seasons and 98 Technicolor episodes airing from January 12,1967 until April 16,1970. NBC was set to keep Dragnet on for a fifth season until the show's creator-producer Jack Webb pull the plug on the show at the end of its fourth and final season due to other reasons. "Dragnet" also spawned two more versions of the show. On October 24,1989 the syndicated "The New Dragnet" produced 52 episodes lasting until January 21,1991. Even creator and producer Dick Wolf(of "Law and Order") revised a new version titled "L.A. Dragnet" for ABC that lasted a mere season and 22 episodes from May 11, 2003 until May 5, 2004. The success of the television series also spawned two theatrical features. At the height of show's success on TV, Warner Brothers Pictures in 1954 released in theaters "Dragnet",and in 1987 Universal Pictures released in theaters a comedy version of "Dragnet" with Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks with a appearance by Harry Morgan(who played Officer Bill Gannon in the revised version of the television series).
"Dragnet" had a documentary style approach on how police procedures worked and the detectives that handled the cases since audiences had no idea on how the suspects were captured and brought to justice. Just before the show took its final commercial break,the show's announcer would inform the audience of something that was related to the case. Here is an example: "On July 20th,trial was held in Department 184 Superior Court of the State of California,in and for the county of Los Angeles. In a moment the results of that trial." Then after the break the camera faded in for what was presumably the perpetrator's mug shot consisting of him or her standing uncomfortably against the wall where the results of the trial were announced where the perpetrator's name and fate were superimposed on the screen. Here is an example: "The suspects were found guilty of.....and the sentence was punishable for no more than a maximum of...." which was the case where they are being committed for their crime. The success of Dragnet won five Prime-Time Emmys for Best Mystery Program, Best Outstanding Actor(Jack Webb), Best Supporting Actor, Photography, and Outstanding Direction(Jack Webb) and was Nominated for 12. Dragnet was nominated for 2 Directors Guild Awards for Outstanding Directorial Achievement and in 1953 won the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Episode and Outstanding Writing.
Even after more than 65 years later "Dragnet" is still one of the more realistic cop dramas ever produced and it is evident to see why it has lasted longer and has other cop shows using its formula. Jack Webb was an architect of the police drama format. A testimony that still holds up to this day. Happy 65th Anniversary "Dragnet".....Jack Webb.....
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