Category Archives: MeTV

The Jack Webb Blogathon: Behind The Badge.

Webb behind badge

This post is part of The Jack Webb Blogathon, a celebration of his huge, and hugely influential, body of work. For more Webb on the web, appearing October 17-19, visit Dispatch (or click on the banner below).

Jack Webb Blogathon HOR

As The Jack Webb Blogathon comes to a close, here’s some interesting trivia about Jack Webb and his work.

In lieu of compensation for assistance and information, what did Jack Webb’s Mark VII Production Company do for the Los Angeles Police Department?
The Company made generous contributions to the Los Angeles Police Orphans and Widows Fund.

How did Dragnet get the stories as basis for their episodes?
Through an arrangement with the Los Angeles Police Department, an officer wrote up a three-page report void of names and intimate details. Dragnet writers filled in the blanks and wrote a story around it. They were not given access to actual police files.

Where did the number 714 come from on the famous badge?
Jack Webb thought 7 was a lucky number. The television series began in 1949 and Webb thought badges issued in the 700s was way in the future for police. So, he choose 7 as the first number and just doubled it for the last numbers – 14.

Mark VII Productions, Inc. was Jack Webb’s production company. What is the meaning behind the logo that can be seen at the end of Dragnet episodes (iron door with a hand pounding the Roman numerals with a hammer)?
Jack Webb “stole” the idea from Arm & Hammer baking soda. He said he liked the look of it as a kid. The door to him also meant strength. The VII for 7 was probably, again, use of his lucky number.

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Jack Webb used a real badge and revolver during the first run of Dragnet. What happened to those items after the show ended and what did he use for a badge and revolver in the new Dragnet show?
When the show ended in 1958, he returned the official, registered items to the LA Police Department, which had issued them to Webb for the show. He got them back from the Police Department for the new Dragnet show.

What Emergency! regular doubled for Jack Webb’s Joe Friday character in long shots on the original Dragnet?
Marco Lopez. He also had small parts on Dragnet, as well. He admitted that he liked to cook while on that show and the cast and crew got to partake in his hobby to their delight. This led to the fully-equipped kitchen at the firehouse on Emergency! — he could not only be a regular on the show, but keep on cookin’.

Which actor did Jack Webb want as Sgt. Joe Friday in the original series, but reluctantly took the role himself, when it didn’t pan out?
Lloyd Nolan, best known for his acting roles portraying private detectives Michael Shayne and Martin Kane.

In 1953, a famous movie producer friend and his wife sold their house to Jack Webb, so they could be closer to a park for their son. Who was this producer and what special thing did they do to the house to sell it to him?
Stanley Kramer. He and his wife replaced the doorbell with one that played “dum-da-dum-dum.”

What was the “Jack Webb Special?”
A deluxe, chartered airplane provided by Warner Brothers for Webb’s cross-country tour promoting Pete Kelly’s Blues (1955). It had an eight-person crew, dining room, bedroom and even a conference room.

Speaking of Pete Kelly’s Blues, Herm Saunders played the pianist. What was his relationship to Jack Webb in real life?
At the time, he was Webb’s press agent.

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Jack Webb directing Martin Milner and Kent McCord in the Adam-12 pilot.

How did Ozzie Nelson (of Ozzie And Harriet fame) come to direct a segment in an episode of Adam-12?
Nelson phoned Webb and requested the assignment. He said he wanted to work with his old family friend Kent McCord again. (As you may remember, McCord was a regular on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.) Nelson did such an impressive job, he was asked to direct the episode called “The D.A.”

Jack Webb turned down the chance to make a movie, which lead to great animosity between the guy who wrote the story for the movie and Kent McCord. Who was the author, what was the movie and why all the hostility?
Joseph Wambaugh wrote The New Centurions, among other books about police like The Onion Field and The Blue Knight. He also created and advised on the television show Police Story. After Webb declined to do The New Centurions, according to McCord, Wambaugh set out to tarnish the badges of Jack Webb and his Adam-12. In interviews, Wambaugh would misquote McCord, trash the show’s acting and call into question the realism of the characters they portray. McCord was hot under the collar about Wambaugh’s mouthing off and was quoted as saying: “He spends his days sitting on his rear and reading burglary reports. I think he‘s out of touch with the guys who patrol the streets,” and “He shouldn’t be telling me how to act. I don’t give him advice on how to read burglary reports.” He also didn‘t like how Wambaugh‘s police characters were “jerks“ or “petty criminals,” which of course was an insult itself to Jack Webb’s style. McCord went on to say about Wambaugh, “If he had anything to say he could tell it to my face or I’d punch him in the face,” and “I’m tired of picking up newspapers and magazines and seeing Wambaugh rap me. If he keeps it up I’m going to rap him.”

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Hopefully, this blogathon has you wanting to see more Jack Webb, or better yet, own it. (I can’t wait to revisit The D.I.) Here’s where you can get the stuff written about over the weekend. Physical evidence, I guess you could say.

Dragnet (TV, 1951-59)
Public domain episodes are available from various companies. Quality varies from pretty darn good to absolutely wretched. You can also find some on YouTube and Roku.

Dragnet (Feature, 1954)
Available from Universal’s Vault program. If I didn’t consider this movie absolutely essential to life as a human, I’d tell you to wait till it was redone, preferably for Blu-ray.

Dragnet (TV, 1967-70)
You’ll find Dragnet on MeTV and Hulu Plus, along with Adam-12 and Emergency! They’re also on DVD from Shout Factory, complete with some really terrific extras, including the 1966 TV movie.

He Walked By Night (1948)
Several DVD sources for this one. Stay away from Alpha, and you’ll be OK.

Dark City (1950)
This is available on DVD from Olive Films—and in the same Blu-ray noir set as Appointment With Danger.

Appointment With Danger (1951)
Olive Films has brought this to DVD as a stand-alone disc and on Blu-ray as part of a film noir set.

Pete Kelly’s Blues (1955)
Warner Brothers brought this out on DVD, and Warner Archive recently announced a Blu-ray. Can’t wait.

The D.I. (1957)
You can get this one on DVD from Warner Archive (and you should).

-30- (1959)
Again, our friends at Warner Archive can set you up with this one on DVD.

SOURCES: Various newspapers, 1954-1976
Thanks to my wife Jennifer for researching and writing the trivia stuff.

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Filed under 1951, 1954, 1955, 1957, 1959, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, DVD/Blu-ray News, Harry Morgan, Jack Webb, Janet Leigh, Kent McCord, Martin Milner, MeTV, Olive Films, Shout/Scream Factory, Television, Warner Archive

The Jack Webb Blogathon: Dispatch.

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Welcome to Dispatch for The Jack Webb Blogathon. Here, you’ll find links to all the posts going up over the weekend in celebration of Jack Webb’s huge, and hugely influential, body of work.

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Day Three. October 19.
It was warm in Los Angeles.

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Behind The Badge

The Hannibal 8

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The D.I.
(1957)

Rupert Pupkin Speaks

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Halls Of Montezuma
(1950)

The Pacific Edible Seaweed Co.

 

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Appointment With Danger
(1951)

Speakeasy

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Day Two. October 18.
It was cloudy in Los Angeles.

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Dragnet (1954, feature)

The Hannibal 8

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– 30 –
(1959)

Johnny LaRue’s Crane Shot

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Dragnet
(1954, feature)

Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings

Wes Fix
Dragnet: “Frauds DR-36”
Everybody Nods: The Dragnet Style Files

 

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He Walked By Night (1949)
Thrilling Days Of Yesteryear

____________________
Day One. October 17.
It was sunny in Los Angeles.

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Pete Kelly’s Blues (1955, feature)
Caftan Woman

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Dragnet 1969
: “Narcotics DR-21”

The Hannibal 8 (Guest blogger: Presley Roan)

 

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Dragnet (1966 TV movie)

The Pacific Edible Seaweed Co.

 

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Pete Kelly’s Blues
(radio)

Once Upon A Screen

 

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Dark City
(1950)

Vienna’s Classic Hollywood

 

The DI HS
The D.I. (1957)
Crítica Retrô

 

Big Rod title from Hot Rod
Dragnet: “The Big Rod” (1954)
The Hannibal 8

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Filed under 1954, 1955, 1966, 1969, Blogathon, Charlton Heston, Harry Morgan, Jack Webb, Janet Leigh, Lee Marvin, MeTV, Shout/Scream Factory, Television

The Jack Webb Blogathon: Dragnet 1969, “Narcotics DR-21” By Guest Blogger Presley Roan.

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Produced and Directed by Jack Webb
Written by Burt Prelutsky
Director Of Photography: Alric Edens

CAST: Jack Webb (Sgt. Joe Friday), Harry Morgan (Office Bill Gannon), Don Dubbins (Bob Buesing), Clark Howat (Capt. Al Trembly)

Airdate: January 30, 1969

Jack Webb Blogathon HOR

This post is part of The Jack Webb Blogathon, a celebration of his huge, and hugely influential, body of work. For more Webb on the web, appearing October 17-19, visit Dispatch (or click on the banner above).

When Presley was five or six or so, she discovered reruns of Dragnet and Adam-12. She was quickly hooked–and so were her parents. Since Presley’s responsible for my rekindled interest in Webb and his work (and therefore this blogathon), I was really excited that she wanted to play along. She’s 13 now and picked a favorite episode to write about. — Toby, proud dad

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My favorite episode of Dragnet is episode 16 of Season 3 (1969) – “Narcotics: DR-21.”

It’s Tuesday, March 8th. Sergeant Friday and Officer Gannon are working out of the Narcotics Division. It has been a busy day. It is seeming like it’s impossible to find the marijuana going through the Los Angeles airport without searching through every suitcase and parcel. They were asked to try a new machine that scans boxes, but it only detects metal and would only find drugs packaged in foil. “We’re not dogs, we can’t sniff it out,” Gannon comments, giving Friday an idea. Friday snaps his fingers and says, “Dogs!”

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They start searching through the yellow pages until they find “Continental Dogs.” After a detailed phone conversation with the company, the owner, Robert Buesing, says give him at least three months and he could try to train a dog to find pot.

This may not have been “Continental Dogs” way, but this is how they train drug sniffers now.

How are dogs turned into drug sniffers? Almost every one chosen is an unneutered male from England (because they have strict breeding guidelines). They are very expensive, but are always paid for by drug money that came from previous drug busts made by dogs. Awesome! Once they arrive in the United States, they immediately start training. The K-9 officer assigned to the dog will be it’s owner and trainer.

First, they play a game of tug-o-war with a towel. Once the dog is excited about the game, a bag of marijuana is hidden in the towel. The dog then associates the smell of pot with having fun. The officer then hides the toy and the dog sniffs it out. When he finds it, he gets to play. After a while, different drugs are put in the towel, which the dog then associates all drug smells with playing.

Just three weeks later, Buesing of “Continental Dogs” has three dogs trained. They may or may not succeed in trial. A small bag of marijuana is wrapped in cellophane, foil, wrapping paper and burlap and then, hidden in some grass. Igor, Wolfie and Hoeshee, the three trained dogs, are run around and they completely ignore the command to seek – which meant “find the pot.” Buesing then remembers Ginger, a German Shepherd, who had a cold during most of her training, but was his last resort.

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Her turn to locate the drugs proved successful. She found it three different times during three different trials (once under a car’s hubcap, once buried in the dirt and once in one of three boxes).

Why is the pot hidden in such an elaborate way?

Drug smugglers are not very smart, obviously, but they greatly underestimate the canine’s powerful sense of smell. They believe if they hide it in something with a strong scent, such as perfume, coffee or thick layers of material, the dogs won’t find it. They are wrong. Dog noses are invincible, being that they are 50 times more sensitive than humans.

Even though Friday and Gannon believed in every way that a dog could be trained to carry police work to a new level, many others didn’t. They would have to prove to a judge that their prototype, Ginger, was a reliable source or tool, in order to issue a search warrant in a case where she could be used. The chemist at the police department designed a test, where he arranged 16 substances on numbered plates. To throw her off and prove or disprove that she could be distracted from her mission, plate 10 held dog food. Plate 13 was the marijuana with the remaining plates having fake marijuana (so much like pot that it could confuse experts.) After being walked around the table of plates, she motioned towards one – it was number 13!

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A few days later, another test was administered and it was very difficult. Friday, Gannon and Ginger arrive at the testing facility, a warehouse full of boxes. A small amount of pot was wrapped in wax paper, foil and cellophane, then triple-boxed and taped shut. This was done to five packages and they were each randomly hidden in the warehouse. She found them all in less than ten minutes.

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Meanwhile, as everyone is talking about how great Ginger is, something excites her in a scrap pile of straw and busted crates. Everyone is silent, until she comes out with an envelope of marijuana. A detective steps up and announces that he planted the envelope and was impressed with the dog. He and the others are convinced that Ginger will be an asset to police searches if they can make it official.

Two weeks later, the Chief finds a way to test Ginger in the field. A search warrant has already been served and police are dumbfounded to not be able to find the drugs that they are convinced are hidden in the residence. Friday takes Ginger on her first assignment. She is allowed to go, since the warrant was already in effect, even though she is unofficial. After a short time, she reacts to a light switch cover and the suspects in the room start to sweat. Friday takes off the cover, finds a string and starts to pull out links of pot bricks and a pot baggy at the end. “Five bricks and one lid,” says Friday. Ginger got the job!

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If Friday and Ginger were working today, this what they would do.

Everyday, on the job, the dog goes and sniffs out schools, businesses and other suspicious places. They are called drug sweeps. When the dog finds the drugs, he gets to play (of all things!) Every one to two weeks, the officer and his dog have to go endure an 8 hour class to make sure the dog is still sharp and to also start teaching him new skills – search and rescue techniques, for example.

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Trial was held on September 8th out of Department 184 in LA county. Leon “Pork” Hardy and Charles Blake Anderson are tried and convicted getting no less than six years and no more than 10. Ginger was so good at her job, drug dealers tried to have her killed.

Jack Webb: “Ginger, the German shepherd seen on Dragnet, is not a show dog but is actually an employee of the Los Angeles police department and is used for ferreting marijuana.” (San Mateo Times, 1969)

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I love dogs and Dragnet – weird combination, but that’s why I love this episode so much. A dog is the hero. It’s too bad, Friday didn’t get to chew anyone out.

J.T.OGradyandAstroWould you like to help a dog like Ginger today? If so, please go to www.vestadog.org to help buy bullet and stab proof vests for today’s police dogs. Every day, hundreds of devoted canines go to work for the police, military and search and rescue teams. They risk their lives for us by trying to find people at-large, missing persons, drugs, weapons, bombs, etc. This lifestyle is dangerous for anybody. The least we can do for these loyal “officers” is to protect them from potential harm. I think Sergeant Friday would agree. Dom, da, dom, dom, dom.

Remember the names were changed to protect the innocent — and the furry.

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Filed under 1969, Jack Webb, MeTV, Shout/Scream Factory, Television

DVR Alert: Jack Webb On TCM And MeTV.

jack-webb-phone-30
Hold the phone! As The Jack Webb Blogathon approaches, I wanted to point out that three Jack Webb pictures will appear on TCM tomorrow (10/8):
The D.I. (1957) 8 AM (EST)
30- (1959) 10 AM (EST)
The Last Time I Saw Archie (1961) 11:45 AM (EST)

Pete Kelly’s Blues (1955) will air on the 16th at 9 AM (EST).

Of course, let’s not forget that Dragnet, Adam-12 and Emergency! air weekdays on MeTV (and on DVD from Shout Factory).

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Filed under 1957, 1959, Jack Webb, MeTV, Shout/Scream Factory, TCM, Television

The Jack Webb Blogathon: A List Of Suspects.

Suspects

The Jack Webb Blogathon is still filling out its lineup. The movies are pretty well covered, but there are plenty of possibilities for TV.

Some have committed to more than one post. People sure love ’em some Jack Webb.

Here are a few of the suspects so far:
Caftan Woman
Critica Retro
Everyone Nods: The Dragnet Style Files
Johnny LaRue’s Crane Shot
Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings
Once Upon A Screen
The Pacific Edible Seaweed Co.
Rupert Pupkin Speaks
Speakeasy
Thrilling Days Of Yesteryear
Vienna’s Classic Hollywood

The image up top was boosted from Everyone Nods.

Jack Webb Blogathon HOR

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Filed under Blogathon, Jack Webb, MeTV, Shout/Scream Factory, Television, Warner Archive

Coming Soon: The Jack Webb Blogathon.

dragnet-joe

The Jack Webb Blogathon is coming up, October 17-19, a celebration of Webb and his huge, and hugely influential, body of work.

Here’s the MO:
• Pick a Webb-related topic: TV, movies, radio, books, personal life, newspaper strips, toys, whatever
• I’ll be working day watch at fiftieswesterms@gmail.com. Write to let me know you want to be part of the lineup, what subject you want to investigate and when you plan to post it. The articles and/or reviews can be in any form, of any length, and on any topic as long as it relates to Jack Webb, but I’d like to manage things a bit to make sure we don’t end up with 714 posts on Dragnet and nothing on cool stuff like Adam-12, Emergency! or Project UFO.
• Write and post your piece on your scheduled day, using an official Jack Webb Blogathon badge (below, huge so you can size ’em how you want). Thanks to my great friend Tomas Gardner.
• Send me the link so I can post it on the master list.

There’ll be a Blogger’s Choice award, too. We’ll call it “The Big Prize.”

OK, everybody. Get typing.

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Jack Webb Blogathon VERT

Jack Webb Blogathon HOR

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Filed under Blogathon, Harry Morgan, Jack Webb, MeTV, Shout/Scream Factory, Television, Warner Archive