Dragnet was my favorite detective show from the 1950′s as I will never forget the dum da dum dum…dum da dum dum…dum that opened each show. It was also part of a famous knock knock joke:
Knock knock…who’s there?
Dum da dum da dum dum…dum
Jack Webb had first done the show on radio and about 360 or so of those shows still exist. One radio show about a boy killing his friend accidentally was one of the saddest old time radio shows ever heard.
The best version of Dragnet to me was the Webb and Ben Alexander combo doing the show in the 50′s. This show was perfect for black and white televison.
The announcer would start the program with this statement: “Ladies and gentlemen the story you are about to hear is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.”
I never could get used to the later version with Harry Porter teaming up with Webb as Officer Gannon. It just didn’t come across as well to me in color.
Even though it was a crime show Friday and Smith would joke about whatever was happening in their lives at the time but they still took care of business and by the end of thirty minutes the crime had been solved.
Then we would be told by the announcer that the trial was held for the offense committed on that night’s show and that in a minute we would hear the results of that trial.
After the commercial break the announcer would tell what sentence had been meted out by the judge in the case for that night.
This was television at its best. Nothing too complicated to figure out like with some of the crime shows today who spend so much time dealing with forensics.
Back then it was a case of Friday and Webb digging for facts and Friday was famous for saying “Just the facts mam” and then the two detectives would follow each lead until the case had been solved. It was later discovered that Joe Friday had never uttered the line about the facts but that comedian Stan Freberg had made a parody of the show using that line.
Jack Webb died December 23, 1982 at the age of 62. Ben Alexander died July 5, 1969 at the age of 58 ten years after last Dragnet black and white show had been televised.