‘Dragnet’ – Joe Friday on the job

dragnet the badge racket

I love “Dragnet.” Really.

The classic Jack Webb series – which ran in the 1950s and in the 1960s, although I’m really only familiar with the latter show – has long since become a touchstone for parody with Webb’s “just the facts, ma’am” writing, direction, casting and performances. But the show has a lot of virtues.

I’ve written about it as a LA travelogue before, for example.

Each half-hour episode quickly and concisely tells a story of crime and punishment in Los Angeles. Sure the show is ripe with silly hippie portrayals and overreaches in it’s messages. But Webb was master of the 30-minute (minus commercials) drama like no one since Rod Serling – and maybe no one since.

Still, it can be more than a little unintentionally funny.

I was watching an episode today – “The Badge Racket,” from September 1967 – in which Gannon (Harry Morgan) goes undercover at an LA hotel to catch a threesome blackmailing out-of-town businessmen. A bimbo barges into the businessman’s hotel room and then two guys, posing as cops, shake him down for money in lieu of telling the folks back home in Nebraska or Iowa or wherever.

As Gannon leaves the hotel with the crooks, Friday follows in a “loose” tail.

When they get to police headquarters – it’s all part of the crooks’ plan, so just go with it – Friday tightens that “loose” tail and is seen riding the elevator with them in a “don’t mind me, folks” moment.

dragnet the badge racket

The scene very nearly made me fall out of my chair laughing. I looked around online and was able to find a screen cap on the wonderful site dragnetstyle.blogspot.com.

Love it.

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