View Full Version : Dragnet, just the facts... or not

02-11-2003, 07:04 PM
ABC has put on an update to Jack Webb's classic LA police drama "Dragnet", with Ed O'Neill as Sgt Joe Friday. The show airs Sundays after "Alias" and was developed by the "Law & Order" franchise's Dick Wolf. O'Neill, who is no stranger to TV crime dramas having acted in many of them before, during, and after he got the role that made him most famous (that of "Married... with Children"'s Al Bundy) brings a seething hatred of crime to this new role as well as a sense of believability of being a robbery/homicide detective whose entire life is his job. However, where the last, and possibly most famous, partner of the Jack Webb character was kindly old Harry Morgan as Bill Gannon, this new series partners Sgt Friday with a younger partner played by 24-year-old Ethan Embry (who at 12-years-old starred with Ed O'Neill in the 1991 comedy-drama "Dutch") which changes the dynamic and removes the personal feeling the original series had by Gannon relating tales of his home life with the all-cop all-the-time Friday. Where the original Jack Webb series (there were several incarnations) put forth a very specific style of cop show narrated by the lead character, this new series feels more like a Law & Order retread with Ed O'Neill's voiceovers in place of the "bumm-bumm" music and location text of the L&O series. Does that make it bad? No, but it doesn't make it "Dragnet" - this new series lacks the original's serious-yet-calm and authoritative tone, it uses the L&O style of jerking the camera around instead of holding a still shot on a character for intensity; however, what this series does have is an adult tone that almost no cop drama has matched of late, it's serious and doesn't hold back.

Ultimately, the series rests on O'Neill's shoulders and while Al Bundy certainly is no Jack Webb, perhaps Ed O'Neill can make this series his own thus creating a new rendition of the Joe Friday character; but he has to watch out for pitfalls on either side of him, fall too far towards one side and you end up being "Law & Order LA" without anything that made the original Dragnet great, too far towards the other side and you end up being another parody similar to Dan Akroyd's 1987 version.

Anyway, despite ABC's ridiculous "the badge is back" catchphrase which is insulting to the audience and the series, the holder of LAPD shield# 714 is definitely worth watching every weekend and hopefully ABC will keep it alive long enough to create a name and audience for itself.

02-11-2003, 09:37 PM
where the last, and possibly most famous, partner of the Jack Webb character was kindly old Harry Morgan as Bill Gannon, this new series partners Sgt Friday with a younger partner played by 24-year-old Ethan Embry

i was thinking the same thing here JT. so far, dragnet seems just like another cop show who has thrown in a young partner to appeal to the "kiddies", ala rick schroder and paul mark gossard(?) on NYPD blue.

i too would of preferred an older partner for friday, and more of a hint of the original series. i liked how friday was really "square" in the original.

02-12-2003, 02:47 AM
Wow! I never made the Ethan Embry connection to Dutch!
Whenever I saw the Dragnet ad in theaters, they always referred to him as "Sweet Home Alabama's Ethan Embry" while I couldn't help but think of him as "Nick Papageorgio of Yuma."

I'm interested in this show, not so much for the Dragnet name but rather what the show could be on it's own. If the show is good, I don't know why they couldn't just develop it on its own merit . . . well, I DO realize the importance of attaching a popular title . . . but still . . . :crazed:

02-12-2003, 06:28 PM
Derek, even a partner who was in his 30s would have been alright with me, but this kid is not believable as someone who's worked his way up to detective for me.

I agree with you on the "square" issue, O'Neill in the first ep smacks a suspect around, that's not very "Joe Friday" to me.

Caesar, I too had not made that connection by the 2nd show, but the kid seemed so familiar so I looked him up on IMDB and it blew my mind when I saw who it was; I was one of the 10 people who actually saw Dutch in theaters. :D

I guess the Dragnet name did it's job dragging ;) people in and then letting the show hook them on its merits rather than the Dragnet series'. ABC is weak and feebled, I don't think they could afford another turkey like the unwatched "Veritas: The Quest". :D

10-05-2003, 05:47 PM
Wow, not even a year later and already ABC has ruined this show! Now titled "LA Dragnet", the show sports a new cast except for O'Neill as Joe Friday, and the whole thing feels like a bad ripoff of Law & Order: SVU. The shakey steadycam is back only this time now it's so shakey that you literally cannot see anything at times. The ensemble cast of Friday's fellow detectives is ridiculously multi-ethnic, yet the bulk of the actors are generic and relatively bland. Worst of all, Friday's voice-over insights are almost all gone.

I'll keep watching because I think Ed O'Neill is a great TV detective, but this is no longer Dragnet at all. What's next, "DC Dragnet"?

10-06-2003, 11:50 PM
You know ... I'll admit, I've become a USA network junky lately and I've watched Dragnet a few times there.

"the whole thing feels like a bad ripoff of Law & Order: SVU."

That about sums it up ... and for sure I haven't seen every episode (maybe only 3 or 4) but I'm a little surprised by how they seem to skip a lot of the elements that made the original Dragnet show so good. The great casual stuff between Joe and Frank made that show so entertaining. I'm not sure why they didn't try to focus on more of that. The cop stuff is always interesting, but it was the stuff like ... Frank and Joe hanging out at a BBQ during their off hours, that made it unique. Especially since the entire point of the show was to put a more "human" face of law enforcement ... I'm not really sure what the point of this one is.

(But yeah, Ed O'Neill is pretty good.)

10-08-2003, 12:16 AM
Yeah, the banter between Joe and his married partners was a great part, it humanized both of them and gave them something else to talk about besides the disgusting things they saw every day. Another thing the classic show had that this one doesn't is that Joe and his partner (mostly Bill Gannon played by Harry Morgan) weren't in the same department ever episode because the stories sometimes came from Bunko or Missing Persons or Vice or Public Relations or whatever - not everthing was Homicide, and sometimes the "Robbery/Homicide" division even dealt with robberies that weren't homicides.

10-08-2003, 12:52 AM
Yeah, that's true ... I forgot about that. They did a lot to try and show as many of the different elements of the job as possible.

It's funny, because my Dad was one of those hippies living on "the strip" back in the mid '60s (I was born in west LA actually.) He always used to talk about how they'd sit, watch the show and laugh at how corny it was. But, I've always loved that about the show ... just how straight those two guys were and how they dealt with the problems on the street. And how much effort Jack Webb put into making the cops look like people trying to do their job, instead of simply "the fuzz". It's such a great show, because even though it's mostly an exaggerated TV depiction of the time, it still manages to capture a lot of the feeling of what it was like.

Every time we watch an episode with hippies getting into trouble, we point at one and I tell my son ... "There's your grandpa getting hassled by the man again!" Such a great show ... and "Adam 12" was great also.