Most nights, The Mister and I watch a “picture show” before heading off to bed. These days, the picture show is one or two episodes of Dragnet 1968. Can I just say that we love this show and every episode leaves us laughing at a dialogue exchange or action. The comedic aspect is so subtle and seemingly mundane that I have a feeling most people miss it and just view Dragnet as camp. Here is a scene that got us laughing the other night (I tried to find a video clip of it but couldn’t):
While struggling to open a cellophane package with a plastic spoon it it, Bill Gannon is complaining to his partner Sgt. Joe Friday that his sister-in-law is staying with he and his wife and has put him on a diet in order to lose 4 1/2 pounds. He gets to have yogurt for lunch and then, if he gets hungry, an apple for a mid-afternoon snack.
The captain walks over to Gannon and Friday and asks Gannon what he is eating. Gannon replies that he is eating yogurt. The captain then says with an absolutely straight face and delivery, “You could stand to lose a few pounds. Eat some yogurt for lunch and then have an apple in the afternoon if you get hungry.”
The captain then proceeds to tell Gannon and Friday about the case he is about to assign to them.
Dragnet often gets a bad rap because it can be preachy at times but I think that Sgt. Friday often says things we wish we could say to express a collective frustration at people who think they can get away with bad behavior. Sometimes, though, his speeches serve as a reminder that things aren’t perfect but it’s not as bad as it used to be:
Dragnet will never replace my beloved Perry Mason as my all-time favorite show, but I love that each episode starts with a mini-travelogue and the stories are based on real events but aren’t sensationalized like they are in modern police procedurals.
As an aside, my grandfather was one of the carpenters remodeling Jack Webb’s personal and production offices. He said that Webb had impeccable taste in wood and appreciated quality craftsmanship. My grandfather was a huge fan of his after that experience.
And those are just the facts.