The program opened each week with these words from
Det. Sgt. Joe Friday: "This is the city, Los Angeles,
California. I work here, I carry a badge." Then that
arresting theme music began to play ("Dum-de-dum-dum").
Probably the most successful police drama in television
history. Dragnet's hallmark was its appearance of realism,
from the documentary-style narration by Joe Friday, to the
cases drawn from the files of the real L.A.P.D., to its
attention to the details of police work ("It was 3:55. . .
We were working the day watch out of homocide"). Viewers
were reminded of the unglamorous dead ends and the constant
interruptions of their private lives that plague real policemen,
and this made the final shoot-out and capture of the criminal
all the more exciting. At the end of each episode, after the
criminal was apprehanded, an announcer would describe what
happened at the subsequent trial and the severity of the sentence.
The series was created and directed by Jack Webb himself.
It's catchphrases and devices became national bywords and
were widely satirized. There was Webb's terse "My name is
Friday--I'm a cop," and "Just the facts, ma'am" It was revived in 1967 as Dragnet 1967 and again in 1989 as "The New Dragnet". This was followed by a short-lived revival in 2002 with Ed O' Neill as Joe Friday. The series was renamed L.A. Dragnet in 2003 and canceled shortly thereafter. A theatrical film in 1987 with Dan Ackroyd and Tom Hanks also surfaced. Other spinoffs included Adam-12 (1968-75) and Emergency (1972-77).