Saturday, December 15, 2012
ARRESTING TELEVISION / DRAGNET DEBUTS / NBC-TV / CIRCA DEC. 16, 1951
It was hazy and monochromatic with heavy static at the dawn of network television.
It was new , dangerous , addictive and available to the public at only a few places in 1951.
The demand outweighed the supply.
The price was off the charts.
Watch once and you never want to see the end of the broadcast day.
When a video viewer wanted a heavy dose of dramatized police procedure, they called Sgt.Joe Friday.
Friday was working the Prime Time Watch at NBC in Los Angeles.
He carried a badge.
With apologies to, and admiration for, pioneering video visionary and one of the original TV hyphenates, actor-director-producer-writer Jack Webb, we pay tribute to NBC's DRAGNET.
It was, by all accounts, television's first , hit crime drama.
DRAGNET was high caliber TV , in every sense of the term.
One of many successful series that transitioned from radio to television, the story telling was fast paced with clipped dialog. With images framed in tight close-up to compensate for the small screens of early,home receivers, it was photographed in a documentary style, that evoked film noir cinema.
Jack Webb's world weary Detective Friday was a heroic everyman who lived with his Mother. The laconic bachelor confronted the daily tedium of police administrative protocol, that was, once in every episode, punctuated by staccato bursts of danger.
In the pilot outing, Barton Yarborough ( who passed away early in the run of the series ) played Friday's partner, Sgt.Ben Romero, and TV icon Raymond Burr portrayed the LA Police Department's, real-life Chief of Detectives, Thad Brown.
DRAGNET would run until 1959 and Webb would successfully revive the taught, but sometimes preachy, drama in LIVING COLOR for a second series on NBC-TV from 1966 to 1970, with the versatile, veteran character actor Harry Morgan as Friday's eccentric partner, Bill Gannon.
Here, from the PUBLICDOMAIN101 YOU TUBE site, is the debut episode of DRAGNET, entitled THE HUMAN BOMB.