|Index||3 reviews in total|
Joe Friday is taking a night class to improve his mind and to get a
masters degree in criminology. This episode consists almost completely
of Joe's involvement in a psychology class where the members of the
class "rap"--talk about what they think and feel. As long as they are
actively involved each week, they are guaranteed a good grade. However,
during one particular session, Joe notices that one member of the class
is carrying a bag of marijuana. And, since he's a cop and required to
enforce the laws (even when off duty), he arrests the man. As a result,
the professor wants to throw Joe out of the class--but agrees to let
the class decide if he can remain. How the episode ends is
wonderful--it really packs a great punchline, so to speak.
When I saw this episode a long time ago, I wasn't that impressed. I remembered this particular show as being preachy and trite. However, seeing it once again, I think my first impression was wrong. Some of the drug episodes on "Dragnet" ARE trite and preachy--like "The Big Prophet" and "Public Affairs - DR-07". These episodes consisted of Friday debating the use of illegal drugs with gurus, eggheads and hippies and it just came off as fake--like a recruitment film for the LA Police Department. However, while this one does have some debate concerning the drug laws, I missed the point--this episode really is NOT about drugs--though they become the bone of contention. The real point is free speech--something I value dearly.
Well written and something different, this one deserved a second viewing.
I can remember this episode from decades ago, but it seems like only
recently have I gotten to a complete understanding (and wondering if I
might say that same thing in a few years). I am roughly the age of Joe
and Prof. Grant in this ep, and the man played by Sidney Clute, who
talks about being able to get Jerry Morgan killed for $5 in Africa and
how most of the world is of necessity too concerned if they'll make it
another day to be like those in that group that talk about "their own
thing" and having fits if anybody tries to prevent them from their own
thing, no matter what their own thing does to somebody else's own
But I think the real topic is finely disguised. Like the other reviewer has said, it's not about drugs, but about free speech. I'll agree, but I think it goes deeper into the police officer being the "enemy," or at least the symbol of what the radical-minded young people hated. As that circumstance is largely what made the "pigs" the targets of the rioting, racial and otherwise, in the 60's era, it's reflected in this episode. If liberals were really concerned with the rights of the individual, Joe being ejected from the class would not have happened-- they would, as Joe himself urged, be trying to change the laws and the system. But an object that is manifest in the physical senses is needed, and thus the police officer was like the hated mascot of your school's chief rival that you love kick around, stick pins in, or hang in effigy. So Joe was considered "fair game" to be the object of hatred after he made the arrest, followed by Grant's propaganda-filled speech to kick him out.
But this quickly leads to the unanswered questions. Would a LAPD sergeant not have known that a college class cannot just vote somebody out? If a student is to be expelled, he is entitled to a hearing by the administrative authorities. But Joe doesn't even question the professor's or the class's right to kick him out; he's just upset that they refuse to understand his point of view and his responsibility to his badge. When Bill Gannon advised him to talk to the captain, Joe refused and said "It's not my way." Maybe if it had been, he could have learned then that the class was overstepping any legal prerogative-- supposing he wouldn't have known that, which he should have. And finally, how would the class have responded to Joe after the lawyer finally gave it them straight? If Joe had to participate in the discussion to make his grade of B, it's easy to imagine the radicals ignoring anything he said, or else never failing to address him as "pig" if they did respond, and Prof. Grant would have loved it. If he and the class succumbed to the fact that they couldn't vote him out, then they would have tried to harass him out. Then the right-wingers would have come to Joe's defense, and the conflicts between them we see would be dwarfed by the fights after that. And would the prof give Joe a B regardless of whether or what he then said in class? It's hard to see that Joe and that lawyer could have a case based on the prof's negative opinion. If it really anything like that, that would surely be one class to remember. But I tend to think the real incident was much simpler-- that a cop made an arrest of a classmate in a discussion group, that the prof and the class wanted to kick him out, but he told them he would sue if they tried it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
First, I'd like to thank all those who submitted critiques of the so-
called "corny, stilted, preachy. boring" Dragnet series.
I admit - for you, Dragnet is indeed insufficiently...stimulating. Very few explosions in Dragnet. Little gun play. Worst of all: no narcissistic affirmation. No airtime given to the viewer that everyone else is wrong and stupid and that you are the superior creature.
Incidentally, there's no obligatory male-bashing. Women are portrayed as imperfect human beings, therefore they can be unflattering characters and even - gasp - CRIMINALS! And not very romanticizible anti-heroes (anti-heroine could be misinterpreted in the Dragnet style book). Lots of gray hair and wrinkles too. The target demographic doesn't like "old men".
Funny - so many "reality" shows reject the kind of realism Dragnet attempted.
Dragnet - and most of Adam-12 and Emergency! - were staunchly counter- counter-culture. Even in the 1960's, Dragnet was an antidote to most of the cultural tumult of its era. Interesting that NBC broadcast these shows: NBC even then was the most left-leaning of the 3 networks.
Like every series, Dragnet has its good and not-so-good episodes. Of all the good Dragnet episodes, Night School always stood out to me. Not all of the show, though. Most of the episode was actually a typical illegal drug debate with an extra helping of police antipathy.
What resonated with me was the final standoff between the "professor" and a student.
I won't reveal the resolution. If you haven't seen the episode, I suggest you watch it for yourself.
If you do watch the episode, I ask you: Did this happen in 1969 - or 2013?
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