Tag Archives: Dragnet

22 December: A Christmas surprise

 

Jack Webb (left) and Ben Alexander, from the television version of Dragnet's "The Big Little Jesus." (Photo: NBC.)

Jack Webb (left) and Ben Alexander, from the television version of Dragnet‘s “The Big Little Jesus.” (Photo: NBC.)

If The Big .22 Rifle for Christmas proves Dragnet wholly (and perhaps uncharacteristically) capable of a tragic tear-jerker, then tonight’s episode—aired a year later—proves the customarily no-nonsense crime drama could deliver a tear-jerker that may well leave you with gentle admiration for a holiday thief.

This, too, would be taken to the show’s original television version and to its mid-to-late 1960s television remake. And, neither will feel quite as embracing as the radio original that lets your mind’s and your heart’s eyes operate.

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21 December: A Christmas tragedy

LAPD Chief William Parker and Jack Webb. (Photo: NBC.)

LAPD Chief William Parker and Jack Webb—Parker’s alarm about children misusing firearms provoked an unusual Dragnet trarjerker. (Photo: NBC.)

Those who remember Dragnet strictly from its late 1960s-early 1970s television revival, when it seems to be little more than a growing anti-hippie/anti-youth exercise in police recalcitrance, albeit far less aggressive as such than similar exercises, may be shocked at times to discover the radio original and the first television version it sired could be called deeper in more than one way.

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13 September: Character counts

Dragnet: The Big Waiter (NBC, 1951)

Jack Webb (lowest right) preparing for a Dragnet transcription. Co-announcer Hal Gibney, upper right. (Photo: NBC.)

Jack Webb (lowest right) preparing for a Dragnet transcription. Co-announcer Hal Gibney, upper right. (Photo: NBC.)

No less than The Commonweal, the lay Catholic intellectual journal of opinion, is impressed that Dragnet leaves a number of heretofore intractable radio crime drama stereotypes behind:

[N]o stereotypical hoodlums with congenital inability to voice the tongue-point dental fricative; no dem’s and dose’s. If intelligence can be measured as the number of shades visible between black and white, Dragnet is an intelligent program. Character is not subordinated to the arbitrary requirements of an action-packed script.

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A Depression farce: Old-time radio listening, 30 November-1 December

Lux Radio Theater: A Man’s Castle (CBS, 1 December 1941)

Early and elemental Tracy . . . (Photo: Unknown publicity photo)

Spencer Tracy reprises one of his earliest—and most arresting—film roles in a performance that’s just about as arresting even with the requisite radio adaptation and editing.

As millions are jobless in the Great Depression, a squatter’s camper (Tracy) takes in a homeless young lady (Ingrid Bergman, in the Loretta Young film role). He feeds her as she makes him a castle inside a shack and falls in love with him despite his restless nature. There’s just one little hitch: when he discovers she’s pregnant, he wants nothing more than to hop the first freight train out of town.

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Two days in November: Old-time radio listening, 7-8 November

Sylvia Picker, as Alan Ladd’s airy secretary on Box 13 . . . (Unknown publicity photo)

Two days in November. The perfect palliative for electoral hangovers, considering that, the way we got blitzed with political ads this time around, oh brother did we need a drink—even before we went out to vote, if we did . . .

Comedy

7 November

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