Submitted by jbraun on

Every weekend starts with Friday, so why not kick off your weekend with a little bit of Joe Friday! Dragnet is one of the most famous police procedural dramas in media history. Throughout its many iterations (radio, television and film) the cases of Los Angeles police detective, Sergeant Joe Friday showed the public what the life of a cop was like. The series was praised for improving the public opinion of police officers and the sense of realism it brought to the stories told.

Created by Jack Webb, who produced and starred as Joe Friday, Dragnet ran on radio from June 1949 to February 1957 and on television from January 1952 to August 1959. The series was revived in January 1967 and ran until April 1970. Webb appeared in three TV movies as the character and the concept was reworked as a film in 1987 starring Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks.

Dragnet 1967. Season 1

After three years of working on the radio productions of Dragnet, Jack Webb was asked to bring the show to television. Bringing most of the team who worked on the radio show along, Webb helped to create a continuity between the series so that radio listeners and television viewers could seamlessly enjoy both forms of entertainment. Furthermore, the visual medium gave Webb the opportunity to increase the realism to a point unmatched by any other program! Cases were often handled by the Robbery & Homicide Divisions, whose real-life offices were located in the ground floor of the Los Angeles City Hall. Webb had set designers build an exact replica of the office including details most viewers wouldn't even notice. He insisted that Friday and his partner use badges in the unique shield shape used by LAPD. This led to the loan of LAPD badges, brought in every morning from the Office of the Chief of Police in the care of an officer who acted as technical advisor.

Dragnet 1968. Season 2

The show was widely recognized by its opening narration:

Ladies and gentlemen: the story you are about to hear is true.
Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Webb used the real names of the police officers involved in those real-life cases. This started after an early script called for Friday to use a shotgun. Being uncomfortable with firearms, Webb asked for instruction from the show's technical advisor, LAPD officer Jesse Littlejohn. In the episode, Friday carries the shotgun using proper technique, but passes it to his partner rather than fire it himself. In thanks for this assistance by LAPD officers, Webb dropped their names into scripts, beginning a tradition which continued through the end of production of Dragnet and Adam-12.



Dragnet 1969. Season 3

While "Just the facts, ma'am" is known as Dragnet's catchphrase, that precise phrase was never actually uttered by Joe Friday. The closest lines were "All we want are the facts, ma'am" and "All we know are the facts, ma'am".



Dragnet: The Movie

Acting as both a parody of and homage to the long-running television series, Aykroyd plays Joe Friday (nephew of the original series star) while Hanks plays Pep Streebek, his new partner. Similar to the recent remake of 21 Jump Street, the film poked fun at the original show while modernizing the story and introducing it to a new generation.

Ironically, the film's plot was not based on any  real-life police cases, or those covered in the television or radio series. A fictional storyline was created by director Tom Mankiewicz, Dan Aykroyd and writer Alan Zweibel in which Joe Friday's nephew and namesake (Aykroyd), whose anachronistic views reflect those of his late uncle, is involuntarily assigned a smart-alecky, street wise new partner, Pep Streebek (Hanks). Friday initially disapproves of his young partner's attitude, hair, and wardrobe, but they gradually bond over their first case, an investigation of a series of bizarre thefts involving a tanker full of chemicals, police, fire and paramedic vehicles, a wedding dress, and a lion's mane.


Alongside these visual treats, we also have a few audio selections that will let you re-live the glory days of radio broadcasting!

Radio's Greatest Christmas Shows

Old-Time Radio. Classic Favorites

Old-Time Radio Master Detectives

Detectives & Crime Fighters


We have tons of classic TV shows available to borrow on DVD!
Check out some of the titles below, or search our catalog for your own favorites!

Little House on the Prairie

The Waltons

The Untouchables

I Love Lucy

Dick Van Dyke Show

The Twilight Zone

Laverne & Shirley

Happy Days