Friday, September 13, 2013

Classic TV: Dragnet (1951)

Dragnet began on radio, then transitioned to television in December 1951. The series has been revived three times since then, with the 1967-70 version the most successful, enabling star-producer-director Jack Webb to expand his Mark VII production company's line beyond Dragnet through the 70's.

In the 50's version, Joe Friday (Webb) went through several partners, the most famous of which was Frank Smith, who was played by two actors during the course of the series, Ben Alexander & Herb Ellis. Try figuring that one out.

Most of us have seen the later version, with Friday paired with Bill Gannon (Harry Morgan). Gunplay was kept at a bare minimum, unlike most police dramas, and there were few instances where the officers had to resort to physical violence to subdue a suspect. However, in the original series, Friday did throw a punch every now and again, only when provoked.

Following is the episode, "The Big Cast", with guest star Lee Marvin, who co-starred with Webb in "Pete Kelly's Blues":

Barney Phillips, who played Ed Jacobs, is better known to cartoon fans for his 60's work (Shazzan), though you might not be able to tell from this episode.

Rating: A.

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