Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Big Subscription Racket or "Custan' makes me feel good" or 'The Jerry Dexter Show' Show

This is the episode in which the surname Procustan gets used eighteen times inside of thirteen or fourteen minutes.

Cleaner zoom of the golf course that we first saw when the world met Blue Boy:

Joe also reps for the Los Angeles Zoo:

Nick at Nite used a sliver of this sequence in a promo when they aired Dragnet in the 1990's:

The Dragnet episodes were on before I could date or drive, so I think I saw every one that was ever aired; I was a Nick at Nite junkie for sure. 
Nick aired Dragnet from 4 January 1991 to 31 December 1995.

Let's get ready for some serious Jerry Dexter!

(He voiced Hal on Sealab 2020 and was in a bunch of other H-B cartoons.)

I know, i'm hypnotized by those gigantic ash trays, too:

Meta TV broadcast! I love it!

If I'm not mistaken, another of Nick's promos used this clip of Gannon watching TV on TV:

I couldn't find the Dragnet promo just yet; so here's a link to the Nick at Nite promos from 1988.

Although I was a kid, I found them very clever. The branding was great, very economical. I liked how they used the stacked font over flat graphics to put the words over a star, heart, triangle, etc.
The Googie forms and patterns appealed to me and were echoed a few brief years later when Ren & Stimpy hit the airwaves and John K ascended to godhood. 

Later, Nick made micro-episodes of "How To Be Swell" and "Milk Man".
The former being laugh-out-loud glimpses into the Prelinger Archive and the latter being their own 50's versus 90's culture mashup. One of the better "How To Be Swell" episodes gives these keys to popularity: 

Step One: Help out at the drug store.
Step Two: Stand where Chick can see you.
Step Three: Drink lots of malts. 
(Everyone trusts you when you drink a malt.)

These station ID's and interstitials from 1990 Have some How To Be Swell including the sequence with Chick and the Malts. Dobie Gillis breaking ALL OF THE WALLS is also pretty funny.

Here are some commercials from 1991 with Nick at Nite promos mixed in.
Nick at Nite bumper from 1994.

I may have been obsessed. Nobody did anything to curb it. *shrug*
Back to Dragnet! We gotta thwart that Glen Procustan!! 

All right, Joe. What's in the box?

A ruse!

And another ruse!

And in the case? Another ruse!

A machine that preys on people's own greed.

So long, giant ash trays!

I wonder how they chose the people that would play the people behind the camera in front of the actual camera. It's also cute how Joe pretends to be out of his element in the TV studio. Ha. 


Yes, it's Doodles Weaver. A TV Veteran, himself. (Not a drama, probably pulp.)

A soundstage made up to look like the cutting room:

He's even wearing a white glove to keep the film clean - nice touch.

Turns out, Doodles' wife has been buying suspect magazine subscriptions from a certain Glenn Procustan, there!

We've been in a room like that in TV Land before - in Mad Men 309, the episode when Sal gets canned:

Does anyone know this street? Ventura Freeway?

They're supposedly en route to the Burroughs Estates, in Tarzana, just below the Ventura Freeway

In all reality, of course, it could be anywhere. The ubiquity of Dragnet locations coupled with the ready availability of backlot made anywhere able to be anywhere. (Besides, this is Los Angeles we're talking about.)

Hey! It's a Universal backlot house that is always used as a stand-in for Gannon's house!

The mark is marked -

Not unlike Dick Whitman's Depression-era Pennsylvania farmstead in "The Hobo Code" episode of Mad Men -


She likes pie! And magazines! and Marines!

"Love Stories, Movie Pic, Love Novelettes, Thrilling Stories, Sensations, and Spring Bride."

Oh-oh, Mr. & Mrs. Doodles reporting some check fraud.

Is the color temperature a giveaway that this is a location shot and not a soundstage? The absence of actors says yes.

Special Delivery from the gal with the hair and the Carnaby street toned-down Mod sensibility.

January 18

Thomas Reddin
Chief of Police
Los Angeles, California

Attention: Sgt. Joe Friday

Robert A. Mayberry
Chief of Police

We're going to get you, Glenn Procustan!

Turns out, he only lasted two months on Parris Island before being dishonorably discharged, while his Dad got a posthumous medal of honor.

Mrs. Ballard identified the Procustan mugs. At age 79, she'd bought enough magazine subscriptions to last 38 years. 

(She was born in 1888. Her subscriptions would expire by 2005. Who wants to live for 117 years?)

I dig Mrs. Doodles' soundstage front room:

These are two driving sequences back to back.

Ok, switch from what might be Wilshire boulevard, back to a backlot set - this time made up to be the Diploma Motel, a chalet style midcentury affair.

This Diploma Motel looks like the same set as where they nailed down the baddies that stole Emile Hartman's furs:

Remember our many PAB Parking Garage sequences:

OK Procustan! Time's up!

Same to you, fake-nurse-lady.

Glenn Procustan
Now serving his sentence in the state prison,
San Quentin, California.

Norma Bryant
Now Serving her sentence in the state prison for women,
Corona, California.

"Pete Benson and his magazine crew were tried in Municipal Court for the County of Los Angeles and were found guilty of fraudulent solicitation. Under the Los Angeles Municipal Code, fraudulent solicitation is a misdemeanor punishable by six months' imprisonment or a $500 fine* or both. Pete Benson received the maximum punishment. The sentences of his crew were suspended."

*about $3400 today.

Brian Avery as Glenn Procustan
Marianne Gordon as Norma Bryant
Art Balinger as Captain Lambert
Jerry Dexter as Jerry Dexter
Larry D. Mann as Pete Benson
Sarah Selby as Marilyn Tate
Doodles Weaver as Cliff Tate, there.

Art Direction - Russell Kimball
Set Decor -  John McCarthy & Ralph Sylos
Written by Henry Irving

Aired April 20, 1967.

Same day:

Nancy Sinatra and her brother were still number one on the music charts with "Somethin' Stupid". That song is repellant. Sigh.

Meanwhile, US bombers unload on Haiphong in Vietnam. The cold war is in full swing; the Soviets are doing nuclear testing. Nasa also has a success with Surveyor 3.

This episode of Dragnet is concurrent with the close of Season five, episode thirteen ("The Phantom") of Mad Men.


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you. I agree!

      Suzy Dragnet

  2. The motel set; indeed on the backlot. It was built as an apartment building from one side and a motel from the opposite side. The units lined the 2 opposite sides with a swimming pool in the middle. It was between Circle Drive and Colonial Street on the backlot. It read it was built for a 1963 sitcom and used in several movie and tv shows, most notably Dragnet and Adam-12. It was used on The Rockford Files a few times as well, if I remember correctly a bad guy once drove through the front of the apartment facade and into the swimming pool!

  3. This episode has one of my favorite unintentionally funny lines from any Dragnet episode. Frank Gannon: "Look, Benson, don't make us lean on you, because when my partner leans, he goes in hot and heavy and deep enough to strike oil." Joe should have replied, "Frank, you're not helping."

    1. YES.

      I’ve often thought it could be fun to make a trailer of Dragnet as a porno. So many lines that sound super dirty out of context, and so many clips of drugs and broads and flophouses.

  4. The medal of honor (MOH) that was shown in the episode was the U.S. Army version. They should have used the Navy's version of the MOH since Glenn Procustan's father had supposedly won the medal as a marine.

  5. I remember when I was a kid I would play a little game with this episode counting how many times Doodles said "there" As adults my wife every now and then will answer a question a la Mrs Doodles with "fiddle fiddle why?" I think we watch too much TV lol

  6. I actually found your blog by googling “Procustan,” because it suddenly occurred to me that that’s just not any sort of name anyone has.

    I can’t believe I’ve found people more obsessed with this show than I am. Amazing.