Tag Archives: Jack Webb

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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Making a composite: Old-time radio listening, 5 October

Dragnet: The Big 38 (NBC, 1950)

Jack Webb, at the height of Dragnet‘s radio life . . .

It’s taken Jack Webb a year to develop and get Dragnet on the air in the first place, but getting what he wants for the show is anything but easy.

The sober actor best known as the title waterfront detective in Pat Novak, leaving that show as it was hitting stride, Webb was impressed when working on a film, He Walked at Night, and getting to know Los Angeles police sergeant Martin Wynn, the film’s technical advisor. When Webb discovered Wynn shared through experience what he believed by instinct—that police life and investigative work was its own kind of drama, without the over-the-top embellishments typical of crime dramas on radio and in film—Dragnet was inseminated.

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