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Dragnet (1951–1959)

TV Series  |   |  Drama, Crime, Mystery
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 1,084 users  
Reviews: 18 user | 2 critic

Sgt. Joe Friday and his partners methodically investigate crimes in Los Angeles.


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8   7   6   5   4   3   2   1  
1959   1958   1957   1956   1955   1954   … See all »
Won 5 Primetime Emmys. Another 4 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »
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Complete series cast summary:
 Sgt. Joe Friday / ... (276 episodes, 1951-1959)


"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 <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Crime | Mystery





Release Date:

16 December 1951 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Badge 714  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(300 episodes)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Friday's partners changed early on for various reasons: Barton Yarborough died five days after shooting the second episode; Barney Phillips had a habit of wetting his lips (making reaction shots difficult); and 'Herbert Ellis (I)', who was never intended to be permanent, was hurried out for looking too much like Friday. Ironically, Ben Alexander, who became Friday's permanent partner, originally wanted to do only one episode of the show (as a character actor). See more »


[first lines]
Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, the story you are about to see is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.
See more »


Spoofed in Sleuth But Sure (1956) See more »


Theme From Dragnet (Danger Ahead)
Composed by Walter Schumann
See more »

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User Reviews

Worth another look
10 February 2005 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I've been watching some older episodes recently, courtesy of a couple of bargain four-episodes DVD I got in a Brighton 99p shop, and my attitude towards the series has changed somewhat from when I first saw Dragnet some decades ago. I now realise that the very tight, plodding format with the story told mostly through voice-over - much satirised, most memorably in Police Squad! and in a classic parody in an early Mad magazine - can somewhat blind the viewer to some of the show's more subtle strengths. The show does seem to make an effort to show the often tedious and legwork-heavy aspects of police work, and avoids violence and gratuitous gunplay as much as possible. But there's often a very sympathetic tone in Dragnet episodes towards the culprit, understanding that crime is often tragedy - such as in an episode called Big Porn, where in the final minutes a pornographer is revealed as a sad, tired old man, reliving his old days as a movie director. I particularly like an episode called Big Shoplift where the criminal turns out to be a lonely woman suffering from kleptomania, for whom even Joe Friday recognises that jail is not the right place. This compassion was a step forward from the efficient but rather cold film that inspired Dragnet, He Walked by Night, in which Webb had a bit part.

When I first saw Dragnet, I think in particular I underestimated the performance of Jack Webb, who seems to approach his suspects with a very human demeanour which is entirely realistic and such an antidote to the overplayed performances of many later TV cops. Webb produced and often wrote and directed the shows, and he displays a sure, experienced touch. Incidentally, the series didn't always take itself that seriously: look out for a wildly campy episode which alters the opening titles to read "Badge 417".

13 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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