The classic police drama is updated for the 1960s. No-nonsense Sgt. Joe Friday and his partner, Officer Bill Gannon, tackle traditional police cases and face new challenges such as LSD, race riots, and public service TV shows. Written by
Jack Webb was being interviewed once about his show Dragnet and he said that he hoped that by creating this show and its portrayal of police work that it would make the public more sympathetic to our brave boys in blue and their job easier. The amount of abuse that police have to take is horrible and ridiculous Mister Webb said. Its is small wonder that the police were so fond of him. They once gave him an award from "the best real cops to the best reel cop". Jack Webb in fact is the only person to ever be given a policeman's funeral by the LAPD who was not a police officer. He served in the Air Force in WWII and began to work as a disc jockey and a small part movie actor after the war. It was while making a film called He Walked By Night that Webb befriended a Los Angeles policeman who introduced him to police files and a light went on in Jack's head and the rest is history. Webb used actual cases from the LAPD and the script went through several hands before it even went on the air from patrolman to captain. Webb even instructed his actors to "deadpan" their lines to add to the air of realism. He read his won lines off a teleprompter. I admit that if Webb had been any more wooden you could have made an end table out of him. Even his walk was like a man whose shorts were too tight. Joe Friday was really a very boring person who wore the same suit all the time. He didn't love his job but did it and served uncomplainingly. Dragnet tackled a lot of topics that were controversial at the time like teenage drug abuse. There was one episode once about a father who went to Friday and Bill Gannon and told them his daughter was smoking pot. There was one excellent scene where Friday angrily lectures the girl and her husband about thier addiction. This episode had a horrifying ending where they crash a party at their house and find that they have drowned their little girl in the bathtub. Gannon gets sick at the sight and it is the most powerful Dragnet that I have ever seen. Another episode has Friday engaging in hand to hand combat with a teenager holding a live grenade. Jack Webb was one of the true pioneers with this series and with Adam 12. He brought us all a lot of enjoyment and made the police out to be the heroes that they are. I often wonder what he would think of tv series like The Shield and NYPD Blue. He would probably be turning over in his grave.
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