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DVD Review: Dragnet 1967 - Season 1


I really didn't know much about Dragnet. I knew it was old, before my time. I knew it spawned the famous phrase "just the facts, ma'am". I knew it used to originally be a radio program. And other than that, everything I knew came from the 1987 Dragnet movie starring Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks. Well, I loved that movie, so when I was offered a copy of Dragnet 1967 - Season One for review, I figured it would be a good chance to not only see how it compares with the movie, but to also just see a classic crime drama television series and how it compares to today's flashy high-tech, special effect crammed, plot twist laden crime drama bonanzas. Oh and let me tell you, this 1967 Dragnet series is in a whole different league!

The show stars Jack Webb as the extremely deadpan Sgt. Joe Friday. And I must say, Dan Aykroyd did a great job of bringing this style across for Joe Friday in the movie. Even being twenty years apart, there was no doubt that these two actors were playing the same character (even though I think, if I remember correctly, in the movie Dan Aykroyd was actually playing the nephew of Jack Webb's Joe Friday). Joe's partner in the TV series, however, is completely different from Tom Hanks' Pep Streebek, Friday's partner in the movie. Unlike the movie, he is actually similar to Joe Friday, a determined straight-laced cop who takes his job seriously. The difference is completely understandable, though, as the TV show was a crime drama while the movie was a comedy, parodying the TV show. Putting two opposites together makes for much better comedy. That being said, I still found the TV series quite funny.

Dragnet 1967 I really had no idea if I would like it or not, but the first episode hooked me in pretty good. While everyone in the show were playing it serious, it still felt like the show was actually parodying itself. I know, it sounds weird, but I just kept catching myself laughing at so many of the scenes. I mean, like in the first episode, how could you not laugh when you hear that some strange-behaving juvenile was seen eating bark, and then when the two detectives arrive on scene we the teenager tripping on LSD, laying flat on the ground with his head buried in the ground. Or later on in the episode when another "juvenile" starts eating paint off his paintbrush. I kept halfway expecting Leslie Nielsen to pop up like in the Police Squad series, which was pretty much a series that parodied Dragnet and similar series. When the heck is Police Squad going to come out on DVD anyway? That's a series I would absolutely love to own.

Dragnet 1967 So yes, the stories are all pretty simple. There's no real plot twists here or anything that will put you on the edge or your seat, but none of that matters. It may not be fancy or complex, but it's still entertaining. What I was really disappointed with, however, was the presentation of the DVD box set. Sure, the outer box looks nice, has good cover art, but I'm talking about what they did to the discs themselves. Three discs are included, two double-sided DVDs and one CD containing one episode of the old radio show. The first double-sided disc contains seven episodes on the front side and seven episodes on the back side. The second double-sided disc contains three episodes on the front side and zero episodes on the back side.

Dragnet 1967 Yep, zero. And it's not just no episodes on the back side, there is absolutely nothing there, no extra features or anything! Uh... so why is it a double-sided disc? Couldn't afford to put artwork on the front side? The pilot movie, Dragnet 1966, is also not included, which is unfortunate, but I could understand if there were rights issues or something. Still, there is a surprising lack of any extra features in the set. No commentaries, no interviews, no fun-facts, not even a "history of Dragnet" segment. Nope, nothing except for that one radio show on the CD. And couldn't they have fit this on the second DVD, and just shown some stills or something while it was playing? I doubt anyone's going to file the CD into their CD wallet so they can pop it in during a road trip. Anyway, here's all the episodes:

  1. The Big LSD
  2. Big Explosion
  3. The Big Kidnapping
  4. The Big Interrogation
  5. The Big Masked Bandits
  6. The Big Bank Examiners
  7. The Big Hammer
  8. The Big Candy Story
  9. The Big Fur Burglary
  10. The Big Jade
  11. The big Shooting
  12. The Big Accident
  13. The Big Bookie
  14. The Big Subscription Racket
  15. The Big Gun
  16. The Big Kids
  17. The Big Bullet

I suppose that just about sums it up. Yeah, I did enjoy watching it, much more than I expected. But at almost $30, the price seems a little high, especially since they avoided extras like the plague.

Dragnet 1967 - Season One is being released by Universal Home Video on DVD starting June 7, 2005. It stars Jack Webb as Sgt. Joe Friday and Harry Morgan as Officer Bill Gannon. Jack Webb also directed and produced. Talented guy. The official website for it is www.dragnetdvd.com.

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