To You, This may look like a "Farce". To a Real Cop, He knows That It's s a RealLife Farce! Just Ask Officer Doolittle or a Cop Neighbor/Cop!
"They're too Fat!" "Those guys couldn't hold down a real job!" "Look at that DUNKIN' DOUGHNUTS Place if you wanna Cop for anything!" So, you think you have complaints about your Police Department?* These examples are both petty and really innocuous. If you really are serious about hearing what is really wrong with the local Town's Department, try asking one of your neighbors, friends, fellow Lodge Members or Church Members who just happen to be Cops. Chances are, if you show respect to the individual and show him you're really serious, he'll tell you what he sees from his point of view. You may be truly surprised at what you learn.
In former days, the late 1940's, thru the 1970's (roughly), we had some one who took it upon himself to dramatize the insider's view of being the "Man". Starting with a little Radio Project on the NBC Radio Network, uh one called "DRAGNET", The Creator/Director/Star, Jack Webb, made the monotone, staccato conversation of interview a well known and even every day element in real life. Furthermore, through his highly successful MARK VII, Ltd. Productions, he became perhaps the most vocal defender of the "Cop On The Beat" ever in the Pop Culture scene.
Indeed, virtually all of his Series, in partnership with Universal Pictures Television** were directly or indirectly involved with the mundane, 'routine' daily grind of the street, when it ceases being an adventure and becomes a job. So it is that we have not only the Classic of all Copper/Shows in "DRAGNET", but also "ADAM 12", "EMERGENCY", "THE D.A.""O'HARE, U.S. TREASURY.", and even the somewhat 'tongue in cheek', turn of the Century Western, "HEC RAMSEY".
But no matter what sincerity and consistency displayed by Mr. Jack Webb, he was still a sort of "outsider", never having been a Cop in real life. He therefore couldn't raise any constructive criticism on behalf of the Rank & File, dog-ass donkey coppers.
Now, enter L.A. Police Sergeant Joseph Wambaugh via his popular novel, "The New Centurions", which instantly put Joe on the map and led to the NEW CENTURIONS Feature Film with George C. Scott and Stacey Keach in 1972. Once published a veritable Niagara of Wambaugh Book/Films followed. THE BLUE KNIGHT, THE CHOIRBOYS, THE ONION FIELD, THE GLITTER DOME and others continued keeping Sgt. Wambaugh from needing any Moonlighting to make ends meet.
So, along came the offer for TV and the Anthology Series of Stories of the L.A.P.D. and this "POLICE STORY" was born.
In the various episodes that we saw, we recall that they all seemed to examine various issues from real life Police Departments and commit them to the episodes. They were as often as not dealing with us Uniformed Donkeys, you know, the 'backbone' of the Department, the Beat Patrolmen in the 'marked' squad cars. Episodes with former Dallas Cowboys QB Don Meredith immediately come to mind; as does a quite serious entry with Cliff Gorman entitled "The Wyatt Earp Syndrome." .
But it is this one Episode, "Officer Dooly" (1976) that to this writer really hit the ol' nail on the head! In short, Rookie Beat Cop, Officer Dooly (David Birney), has been 'noticed' by his martinet of a Watch Commander, Captain Kidder (Paul Burke) as a ripe subject for some special attention, some "discipline", all to make Officer Dooly, whom the good Captain has dubbed 'Doolittle'. The Captain begins to examine everything that Dooly does with a fine-toothed comb, a microscope. As a result of this 'scrutiny in the name of training and police discipline, Doolittle finds himself making a lot of inconsequential, little venial sin type of mistakes. Following them are Verbal and Written Reprimands, Working of his own days off 'in Lieu of Suspension' and even forfeiture of his already earned Compensatory Time (aka 'Time Due' in Chicago).
No matter what he does, no matter how hard he tries, he can't seem to turn the corner and please his boss! He even gets a Department Commendation for exceptional response and bravery, which is negated by Kidder because in the emergency situation, Dooly/'Doolittle' inadvertently acted contrary to a Department Policy. All this after a 'Brass' member of the Safety Board, (Gil Stratton) had shaken his hand and bid him a "Welcome Aboard" to the L.A.P.D.
Eventually, Officer Dooly does it all, he makes some outstanding 'Pinch', worthy of a Commendation and he followed all Departmental Directives, Orders, etc.! And as Captain Kidder, his face one big ear to ear grin congratulates him with, "Great, Doolittle! You've done it right! You may keep this Commendation!" With that, Dooly says, "You mean this is mine?" Receiving a nod from the gleeful Captain/Watch Commander, Dooly proceeds to rip it up!
(FREEZE FRAME! Voice over of Police Communications Radio Traffic! Roll Credits!)
Now most any viewer would see this show as a sort of light, tongue in cheek parody. But take my word, it is not! Just ask Joe Wambaugh or your cop neighbors. They'll tell you.
NOTE: * Sounds like the Title of on of those old Warner Brothers Joe McDoakes Comedies.
NOTE: ** Mr. Webb also partnered with Warner Brothers for the Feature Film DRAGNET (1954) and spent a short, unhappy stint as head of TV Production there.
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