Tag: Dragnet

Book Review: Dragnet Dailies Septemer-November 1952

Dragnet was not only a radio program, a TV program, and a movie in the 1950s, it was a pop culture phenomenon that not only led to spin-off novels and board games but a daily newspaper strip that spanned from 1952-1955.

Single strips have surfaced. Lewis Lovehaug (aka Linkara) did a review of an Australian Dragnet comic book which appears to have been made up of several edited newspaper strips. A few strips have appeared on various blogs around on the Internet. There does seem to be disagreement on the start date with many websites indicating 1953 as the start date, but this appears to be inaccurate. As best I can tell, it started in June 1952 and continued through May 1955.

This book collects an entire storyline from September 22-November 8, 1952. The overall plot is a good, standard Dragnet story about a search for a drug ring with the first clue coming at the scene of a drug-related accident.

The story features Frank Smith as a young police officer rather than the middle-aged character we came to know on TV. The Dragnet strip began in the interim period between the time Barton Yarborough (who played Friday’s first partner Ben Romero) died and when Ben Alexander was cast as Frank Smith. Clearly, the idea of having Friday with a younger partner appealed to Jack Webb. In addition to the newspaper strip, on a radio show, a young Martin Milner was cast as Friday’s partner Bill Lockwood for a month, but it didn’t work out, with Milner entering the military during Korea foreclosing the possibility. The newspaper strip Frank Smith does have a resemblance to Milner with a touch of Jimmy Olsen thrown in. The one plot complication is Joe Friday having a young partner makes Joe Friday going undercover as a college student seem silly. Smith would have been a more natural fit.

The art is decent with a fair likeness of Jack Webb as Friday. To be honest, it’s tough to tell how much of the mediocrity in the art has to do with the art and how much of it has to do with the quality of the scan of the material.

If you’ve read other collections of major newspaper strips, such as those published by the American Comics Library, this will probably not be all that impressive. Collections of major strips are often carefully restored. The collections are readable public domain comic strips of fair quality.

In addition, the price of $7.99 for a 42-strip story is a bit steep. Still, if you want to enjoy Dragnet as a newspaper strip and want to own a physical book as opposed to downloading them online then you may enjoy this book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

This post contains affiliate links, which means that items purchased from these links may result in a commission being paid to the author of this post at no extra cost to the purchase

Book Review: The Case of the Crime King

The Case of the Crime King was Richard Deming’s second original Dragnet tie-in novel for the original 1951-59 TV series.

The book focuses on Lt. Joe Friday and Sergeant Frank Smith’s efforts to break up a robbery ring. The case begins with the arrest of a clever criminal who Friday and Smith catch and send to prison.

Word begins to leak out of prison that about a new statewide gang with plans to accumulate a fortune and use the money to get one big score that will leave them living like kings. Friday and Smith are sure their man is behind it, but proving it is another matter.

The stakes have never been higher in a Dragnet case file as the lives of thousands and the freedom of millions depend on Friday and Smith stopping this criminal gang’s plot.

Like in his first effort, The Case of the Courteous Killer, Deming manages to capture the spirit of Dragnet, only telling a more complex case. In many ways, the case calls to mind the 1954 Dragnet film which focused on a gang-related investigation, only there are no out-of-character moments for Friday or Smith and we get a more satisfying resolution. The criminal is genuinely clever and the narrative remains at a strong level throughout. Unlike The Case of the Courteous Killer, there’s not really a sag in the story.

Worth noting is that The Case of the Crime King acknowledged the existence of steamier sides of life and Los Angeles that the 1950’s series avoided as it includes references to prostitutes and the criminals use an adult movie theater as an alibi. Neither aspect is written about in a salacious manner, but it does signal a slight shift that would be seen in the 1960’s revival.

On October 5, 2019, a review was held in the City of Boise, in and for the County of Ada. In a moment, the results of that review:


I will say that while this book was a fun read, I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the Case of the Courteous Killer. That case had a killer who came after Sergeant Friday and put him in peril. Here the criminals are dangerous but far more methodical. It also had less of Smith’s humor, which disappointed.

If you love Dragnet and you like mysteries of this era Dragnet: The Case of the Crime King is a worthwhile read and at $2.99 in the Kindle Store, it’s a great deal. It’s a well-written case that was probably better than most of the episodes aired during the original series’ final season.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

This post contains affiliate links, which means that items purchased from these links may result in a commission being paid to the author of this post at no extra cost to the purchase

EP2913: Dragnet: The Big Badge (Standard Division #6 (Tied)

Jack Webb

Friday and Romero search for “The Badge Bandit” holds up couples in parked cars while pretending to be a police officer.

Original Air Date: May 4, 1950

Support the show monthly at patreon.greatdetectives.net

Support the show on a one-time basis at http://support.greatdetectives.net.

Mail a donation to: Adam Graham, PO Box 15913, Boise, Idaho 83715

EP2138s: Tenth Year Podcast Anniversary Special

Jack Webb

Adam Graham celebrates ten years of Old time radio podcasting by replaying his very first podcast, featuring the first existing episode of Dragnet, “The Nickel Plated Gun.”

Original Air Date: June 10, 1949

Support the show monthly at patreon.greatdetectives.net

Support the show on a one-time basis at http://support.greatdetectives.net.

Mail a donation to: Adam Graham, PO Box 15913, Boise, Idaho 83715

The 25 Best Dragnet Programs, Part One

As I finish up my Old Time Dragnet podcast. I’ve seen and heard a lot of Dragnet: More than 300 radio episodes from which most of the 1950s TV version were created and I’ve seen a few of those TV episodes that weren’t based on radio shows.  In addition, I’ve seen the entire 1960s series, and both the 1954 Motion Picture and the 1966 TV Movie.

That’s a lot of Dragnet and I’ve developed a strong opinion as to which episodes that constitute the best. Of course, there are dozens of 1950s TV shows which were never done on radio due to the general unavailability of those programs. In addition, there are 9 radio episodes which aren’t in circulation nor are the television versions available  At least one episode described by Michael Hayde seemed like it could make on the list. (The Television show, “The Big White Rat.”) However, until they become available, this is my top 25 Dragnet stories from radio, television, and film.

25) 16 Jewel Thefts

Original Broadcast (radio): August 18, 1949

Dragnet sought to portray real policemen in the course of their duty and this very early script did a great job at it. Friday and Romero have their thief but to really make the charge stick, they have to find his cache of jewels. They’ve been able to narrow the neighborhood he was staying in, but now they actually have to find his apartment, and so they have to wander around from apartment house to apartment house in the heat, wearing these very hot suits, toting the suspect along, and trying to hide their discomfort. It’s an amazing episode in showing the drudgery that real police work can become but managing to do it an entertaining  way. It’s also somewhat noteworthy for being the first appearance of future Dragnet co-star Harry Morgan in the Dragnet franchise.

24) DR-32

Original Air Date (Television): March 27, 1969

A little girl is bitten by a dog and the dog can’t be found. Under the law, the girl must be given a rabies vaccination if it’s not known whether the dog was rabid. The problem? The girl is allergic to the rabies vaccine, so a rabies shot could kill her. If the dog has rabies, the rabies could kill her. Friday and Gannon have a limited amount of time to track down the dog and save a child from a potentially lethal injection.

23) Big Little Jesus

Original Air Date (Radio): December 22, 1953
Original Air Date (Television): December 24, 1953
Remake Air Date: December 21, 1967

The Dragnet Christmas episode was born out of writer Richard Breen’s belief that the original Dragnet story, .22 Rifle for Christmas was really not appropriate to the festive holiday season.  What Breen did was he took a story from San Francisco and transported to Los Angeles. It centers around a church which finds its statue of the Child Jesus is missing and the efforts made by Friday and his partner to recover it. The production became a holiday classic because it oozes Christmas Spirit, and the conclusion packs an emotional punch, making it a perfect fit for the Season and an all-time Christmas classic.

22) The Big Impossible

Original Air Date (Radio) : March 15, 1953

In this ’53 radio episode, police are able to trace a series of robberies back to a suspect. The problem is that the suspect was confined to a sanatorium. This is one of the better mystery plots in Dragnet’s very long history.

21) The Harassing Wife

Original Air Date: April 2, 1970

One of the funnier Dragnet episodes features a parolee whose nagging ex-wife continually reports him as a suspect in every robbery.  The role of the nagging wife would have probably been well-played by Virginia Gregg but Peggy Webber shows herself every bit as good in this great role. The plot has a pretty solid twist towards the end and one of the most ironic endings in Dragnet history.

Continued next week with 20-16.

If you enjoyed this post, you can have new posts about Detective stories and the golden age of radio and television delivered automatically to your Kindle.