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I’m a little hesitant to write this piece. Most of the other programs and movies I’ve listed we know are in existence, if for no other reason than the existence of black and grey market versions.
However, most of Webb’s productions we’ll discuss here, it’s really an open question as to whether many of them are in existence. There have been many rumors about the disposition of Webb’s intellectual property: of mismanagement of the studio or by Webb’s widow. So how much of this is in existence remains an open question.
However, Much of the wonderful Mark VII productions made by Webb are not readily available. The biggest example of this in the 1950s run of Dragnet. From one source or another, around 63 episodes of Dragnet are available on DVDs or online out of 277 episodes. And these shows are pretty much available without much rhyme or reason and of varying quality. Dragnet deserves an official release and really that’s the only way that many of the episodes will be seen. While most of TV Dragnet is in the public Domain, most of Season 4, all of Seasons 5 and 6, and a few episodes from Season 8 are under copyright.
Webb’s productions include a wide variety of interesting topics. There was the TV series Pete Kelly’s Blues based on the radio series and movie of the same name that ran in 1959 and starred William Reynolds. There were also a wide variety of series that like Dragnet took a look at how people did amazing jobs. Some of these included Mobile One (Electronic News Gathering), The D.A.’s Man (an Investigator work for the District Attorney), the D.A., O’Hara, U.S. Treasury, and Sierra (park rangers), Project UFO (Project Blue Book). In addition, there were more anthology programs such as Escape which featured people stuck in life threatening situations, In addition, there were a couple other cop shows called Sam (featuring a canine partner) and Chase.
What we have of Jack Webb’s work shows him to be very talented at bringing the real world to us and much of these portrayals still resonate nearly three decades after his death, so future generations should be able to enjoy them on DVD if they are available.
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