Sgt. Joe Friday is called back from vacation to work with his partner, Off. Bill Gannon, on a missing persons case. Two amateur female models and a young war widow have vanished, having ... See full summary »
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
Producer Jack Webb was known as an extremely economical TV producer: His Mark VII productions routinely used minimal sets, even more minimal wardrobes (Friday and Gannon seem to wear the same suits over entire seasons, which minimized continuity issues) and maintained a relatively tight-knit stock company that consisted of scale-paid regulars who routinely appeared as irate crime victims, policewomen, miscreants and clueless parents of misguided youth. Which is pretty evident if you follow the show consistently. In fact I find it comical, in an annoying way, that some actors clearly play good characters in some episodes and criminals in other episodes.
In real life Jack Webb was a hard worker that had a great sense of humor, loved to drink, and smoke cigarettes. That being said, "Dragnet" is over-rated. PLEASE let me explain: Webb's decision to have actors read off cue cards and read their lines monotone isn't my idea of a method in making a TV show more realistic; which was Webb's reasoning behind this production decision. Also, the whole idea of these stories being real life depictions of actual events is somewhat misleading. These stories were BASED on real cases. Liberties were clearly taken in the writing department in an effort to make the stories more palatable to Webb's goals and the main TV viewing audience.
So, don't' get me wrong; I like watching Dragnet. Webb's introductory history lessons about Los Angeles are really quite enjoyable at the beginning of each episode. It's also great to see the location shots filmed in the Los Angeles area at that time in the late 60s: It's classic America before LA turned into the sess-pit it is now. Putting it into perspective, "Dragnet" has some endearing qualities, but Jack Webb's cue card production style gets an F from me.
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