Friday, April 4, 2014

A Classic Reborn: The New Dragnet (1989)

How do you remake Dragnet without Joe Friday?

In the late 80's, a small, independent studio, The Arthur Company, acquired licenses for three Universal properties: The Munsters, Dragnet, & Adam-12. Of these remakes, The Munsters Today was the most successful, lasting three seasons. The New Dragnet & The New Adam-12 each managed two "seasons" over the course of a calendar year, with the second season beginning in the spring of 1990.

Where both remakes of Jack Webb's seminal crime dramas failed was in creating new characters for each of the series, rather than find someone who could fill Webb's gumshoes as Friday and narrate, or, in the case of New Adam-12, finding a new generation version of Pete Malloy & Jim Reed. Now, I never saw The New Dragnet, but all I can do is offer the open, courtesy of jpwrites:

13 years after this version ended, Dick Wolf tried a 1 hour Dragnet, with Ed O'Neill (now on Modern Family) as Friday, but ABC suits tinkered with it by phasing out Friday and opting for an ensemble cast, a la Wolf's Law & Order family of shows. That was a mistake as the rechristened LA Dragnet lasted a scant more than a month before ABC gave up. It was their mistake, and their loss.


magicdog said...

This and the rebooted Adam -12 were ok, and were faithful to their predecessors' formulas, but it just wasn't the same. The casts tried, but they weren't nearly as memorable as the originals.

It did help that the episodes were based on actual cases; I can't stand the fictional storylines of many of today's crime shows. They are so far from reality. At least those based on actual cases proved truth was more interesting than anything from a scriptwriter's mind.

hobbyfan said...

Some of the cases on Law & Order's family of shows were ripped from the headlines, then fictionalized to, obviously, avoid lawsuits. It's not the same as it was back in the day, true, but hey.....