Saturday, May 11, 2013

"The Grenade" or "Mickey Sholdar: Mental Patient & Party Crasher"

"This is the city-- Los Angeles, California.

A lot of it has always been here.

The mountains, the deserts,

the ocean.

Some of it had to be developed.

Like oil, and water,

and the land.

The rest was built from scratch.

A human mind conceived this.

And this.

Man has an instinct to create,

or to build, or to improve.

But, the human mind can go other ways, too.

Sometimes, it gets lost, then it needs guidance.

Reading signs and obeying them can sometimes help a confused mind.

They tell you which way to turn,

when not to turn, 

where not to drive,

where not to park.

In my business, this sign mean something, whether you drive or not.

Sometimes, if you don't heed it, you'll see this sign.
I work here. I carry a badge."

Aw, man! You mean it's the Season Two opener and they still didn't re-shoot the LAPD sign? It's still just a dirt patch and no flowers in front! Missed opportunity!

Well, anyway, we're off.
And the very first scene is night driving? Sweet!

And a location shot, to boot!

The kids were seeing Doctor Zhivago? Crazy!

This episode completely skipped over the usual Guys-in-the-pea-green-office motif that we're used to from every episode of season one.

It's straight to the soundstage and some very spare production style!

That sconce behind Gannon looks uncannily like one from over the bathroom sink, but turned ninety degrees. 

Just like last season, click to enlarge.

Helpful Heather Menzies is back to identify the acid from this season's episode one; H2SO4.

Gerald Paulson's front door, which we'll remember from season one.

Season two also begins to strengthen the visual signature, if you will, of orange carpet and blue walls.

Orange and blue together, in general, really.

How about a nice, new night driving sequence to get this season off to a good start?

Hey hey, back to the Georgia Street Juvenile soundstage. They've added the spiffy Departmental Command board. For all we know, they are head shots of all of the crew! Wouldn't that be funny.

Friday and Gannon have a nice banter about youth being "pushed ahead too fast" in society and being "too young when they get a say in the home." He reckons that they are losing respect for their parents.

It's a nice touch, using rear projection and having them chat in the car, rather than Joe doing a voiceover while Bill drives.


Bill and Joe head back to Mickey Sholdar's house and entertained Robert Brubaker talking about how hard it is to be a teenager's father. 

Gannon makes a discovery:

a 45 caliber automatic and an M1 carbine rifle.
I blame the carpet. So yellow. And not the last we'll see of it.

Bill finds a live grenade.

It's not the first time the guys have found explosives. Too bad they didn't have to bring Olan Soule back to identify it.

More night driving and our familiar rear-screen projection technique

Aw, Gannon looks positively beside himself with grief.

We haven't looked out the front of the car in a while.

Now the musical cues really start picking up.

Some serious L.A. after dark:

Dropping in on John Rubinstein and a pretty-terrible still life:

Blue! Orange! & isn't that Andrea King's end table?

Weird mix of furniture styles, even some Robsjohn-Gibbings style (the green chair). 

A lovely shot over the city at night and it's off to Baldwin Hills.

Well, in Dragnet, all roads seem to lead to Colonial Street.

Hip extras pretend to be posh kids getting their party crashed.

Architecturally, the detailing of this patio is completely off the wall. Definitely backlot/soundstage.

"We concur."

Dig - they've got multicolored lights, a speaker anchored on a tree, a red vinyl record! How cool is that?

During the party sequences, the soundtrack is either an annoying looped rock and roll studio affair or a highly pitched whine, I guess it underscores Mickey's 'emotional disturbance' by disturbing us.

So much style!

A-lines, cardigans, sport coats!

It says "symphony to a"...something. Reckless stranger? Can you figure it out?
I think it says Symphony to a reckless stranger.

Perhaps it's a prop record with a locked groove, so the shots will match up.

Check out that crazy outdoor bar. I also like the red splash of light behind Joe:


Wrecking a perfectly good record party? We liked you better when you got busted for shoplifting.

He is being used to reinforce the trope that pretty much all kids that go bad are from broken homes.
Mickey's real dad died in 1958. That's why he doused Jan-Michael Vincent with sulfuric acid and pulled the pin out of a grenade at a party.

Yep, gotta be a locked groove. Or recycled footage.

OK here's how it's going to go down: Joe is going to unplug the record player with is foot,

tussle with Mickey Sholdar and his blue cardigan,

Gannon shouts to the partygoers to GTFO so they won't get accidentally fragged,

for a few tense seconds, the pin is removed from the grenade,

(you know how MK 2 grenades work, right?),

Gannon puts the pin back in,

and the day is saved.

Such a variety of cool plants back there:

All right buster, straighten up that cardigan.

Peggy Webber's not your mom anymore and there's no Hammond Organ where you're going.

Moral of the story: Invite Mickey Sholdar to your record party.

Gerald Paulson

Now confined to Camarillo State Hospital for treatment.

Mickey Sholdar as Gerald Paulson
Michael Vincent as Rick Schneiderman
Robert Brubaker as Martin Kirsop
Cathleen Cordell as Lois Kirsop
John Rubinstein as Paul Whidden
Robert Cleaves as George Nash
Heather Menzies as Lorean Harper
Barbara Luddy as Maid

Art Direction - Russell Kimball
Set Decor - John McCarthy & John Sturtevant
Written by Robert C. Dennis

Aired 14 September 1967

Same day:
The L.A. Rams beat the New Orleans Saints in the Saints' first NFL game of the season. (27-13!)

The Doors were on Ed Sullivan in defiance of CBS' censors. What is he supposed to sing in place of higher? (Full song below.)

Bobbie Gentry was at number one with "Ode To Billie Joe." This would mark the fourth and final week at number one.

This is our first episode of the season since May, so here are all of the number one songs since we dropped off:

"Groovin" by The Young Rascals
"Respect" by Aretha Franklin
"Windy" by The Association
"Light My Fire" by The Doors
"All You Need Is Love" by The Beatles

That was the musical backdrop of the Summer of Love. Oh, cultural juggernauts. 

See you next week when Joe shoots Art! (WHAT?!)


  1. This was a pretty bad episode. The conversation between Friday and Gannon in the car was pretty boring and basically boiled down to, Kids these days grow up too fast and don't show enough "respect" (i.e. unquestioning obedience). Solution? Friday and Gannon can't seem to come up with one, or even make any progress in that direction.

    They probably would favor more of the "Respect me because I'm your father" stuff that kids have already rejected as just another way of saying "Wait patiently for adulthood before you try to realize your desires, and don't rebel against the power structure in which you were placed without your consent." Kids know that they won't have much freedom when they grow up, either; they'll be paying a mortgage to the bank and taxes to Uncle Sam, and living within the laws that guys like these police sergeants enforce.

    If anything, Friday and Gannon got it backward; the problem was that kids weren't (and still aren't) being given enough autonomy. This led to their finding themselves stuck in miserable situations and acting out. When you're a youngster, the main measures of success are grades and popularity, neither of which necessarily has much connection to what you'll need to be successful in the real world; but people who don't have those two things are often considered (by themselves and others) to be failures.

    For this reason, libertarians have advocated giving young people the same rights as adults while also stripping them of any entitlements to their parents' resources, since personal responsibility has to accompany liberty. That would allow kids to get started immediately pursuing aspirations of their choice and perhaps better escape social situations in which they don't fit very well. At the same time, it would free parents from having to financially support their kids' leading a kind of life with which they disagree.

    The climax was drawn out way longer than necessary and got pretty repetitive, e.g. with the music starting, stopping, starting again, etc. It was pretty predictable too how it was going to end. A cop trying to distract a guy who's holding a weapon on a crowd, so he can grab the weapon -- never seen that before on TV or in movies!

    Nice hairdos of the various teens, though. Almost too well-styled to be plausible.

  2. If such an incident were to occur today, the kid would go to prison rather than to a mental hospital.

    1. You write that like it really happened. No teenager ever held party goers hostage with a grenade. Poetic license was taken by Dragnet writers to the nth degree.

  3. The theater Friday and Gannon go to is on Ventura blvd.It was the Fox Studio City.After it stopped being a theater in the 90's,it became a Bookstar and when they went under,it became a Barnes and Noble which it still is.And looks the same even now!!!!The box office is still there!

  4. I LOVE THIS BLOG! Just discovered it last night. One correction -- both the Doors appearance and the Rams/Saints game were actually on that Sunday, 9/17 -- Dragnet aired on Thursdays. Thanks so much for putting this together!

  5. I too just discovered this blog! Anyway, the entire party scene is one of my favorite scenes in all of the Dragnet episodes...well-edited, nice use of music and suspenseful.

  6. I really like this episode too! We had one of these psycho kids are our High-School, so I find this episode more believable then some people I guess.

    I thought the tension with the hand-grenade was awesome, and some of the camera work added to heightening the tension. Cool old footage of Jan Michael Vincent as "Rick".

    Another thing, it is not often you see Friday viably scared - angry and understanding the danger, yes, but I think this is the only time, you see him seriously 'sweating it".

  7. "Symphony to a Faceless Stranger."

    That's what the record label says.

  8. I'm pretty sure that it's "Symphony To A Faceless Stranger". The best time to look is when Sholdar looks down at the record player after Joe unplugs it.