Saturday, June 29, 2013

"The Big High" or "Grass kills, in a roundabout way."

Jack Webb hated marijuana.

I appreciate how he didn't try to sound hip for the time as he was trying to reach the average person in a reasonable way.

That said, this week's "Dope Parable" is very, very, very heavy-handed. Joe's zinger is even from the Bible!

"This is the city-- Los Angeles, California.
For the three and a half million people that live here, the city is one big shopping center.
Retail stores in Los Angeles take in more than two million dollars a day.

Some products aren't sold so openly. Marijuana is one of them.
A bag like this goes for $15. ($100 in 2012)
It's called a "lid".

The finished cigarette is called a "joint". It sells on the street from 50 to 75 cents.

(Would be between $3 & $5 counting inflation.)

The seller claims it's heaven. The buyer soon finds out it's hell.

It's a closed contract until we find out.

Then I go to workI carry a badge."

We'll present excerpts of the character's lines like we did in The Dragnet Monologues back in season one.

The episode gets about as dark as an episode of Dragnet in 1967 can get, so they begin the episode with Bill humorously sharing his secret recipe for barbecue sauce, complete with an upbeat music cue.
It's another instance of the writer using downtime to foster Joe and Bill as Bert and Ernie.

HOLD THE PHONE (Ketchup Edition)

What's up, Ed Prentiss?

Showing up at 150 L.A. Ave. to narc on your daughter? 


"Frankly, it's difficult to know where to begin. You read about these things in the newspapers and somehow or other, you convince yourself it can't happen to you. Drugs. Narcotics. The whole dirty business. How do you associate that with a Phi Beta Kappa key? My daughter. She was an honor graduate from college; magna cum laude in English literature and now, well, as I told Captain Trembly, she practically brags about smoking marijuana. She's twenty-two; certainly old enough to know better. Her name's Jean. She and her husband, Paul Shipley, live in the Valley. They bought a place in Sherman Oaks last year. 1698 Yolanda. Frankly, I don't know whether coming down here is going to do any good. But I've tried everything else, including threatening her with a lawsuit. A custody suit. She's got a little girl, two years old. Robin. Only grandchild I have- maybe the only one I'll ever have. I told Jean if she and her husband continued experimenting with marijuana and whatever else it is these people you read about experiment with, I told her I'd take them to court and take Robin away from them. She laughed at me. Maybe you can do some good with her. Lord knows, I didn't. She won't even talk to me anymore. It's as if we're in different worlds. I don't understand her, and she doesn't understand me. And my little granddaughter is the innocent one caught in the middle."    

Hello again, Robert Knapp:

What's that? TL;DR?

It's ok. I understand.

Daughter. Twenty-two. English literature. Granddaughter. Robin. Two. Sherman Oaks. Pot. Help?

Okay, well, if your daughter is 22, she isn't old enough to know better. Plus, if she spent all her time making straight A's in school and college, she probably didn't have enough time to experiment and goof off and make enough mistakes. Whether your parenting skills were great or not great, your daughter is still going to do what she wants as an adult. Still, maybe she is bonkers and endangering Robin with her smoking so much pot that you had to go to the police office and ask them for help.

Jack Webb wants you to know that dope fiends look like anyone and even live in nice houses, masquerading as normal people.

The guys leave the PAB and head to the Universal backlot/soundstage.

The lighting is 100% not sun. The details are very spare. No windows? No problem!

The variety of plants is pretty similar to where we were when Mickey Sholdar threw acid all over that kid.


The fireplace surround is a neat touch.

Now get ready for our proto-yuppie 1960's hodgepodge of lamps, chairs, and framed art: 

Yellow dress and pink shoes? I can dig it. 

Drum lampshades. A rug on the carpet. And introducing, curiously absent from the closing credits - Robin - chilling in her playpen with Raggedy Andy


(as is that armoire from The Blue Boy episode, The Fur Burglary, and The Kipp Hamilton episode!!!)




Let's get down to brass tacks.

He works for Spindall Chemical as a programmer. "That means I operate a computer." *guffaw*
He's been there since he got out of the service three years ago. He's 23. 
He predicts that marijuana will be legal by the end of Dragnet's color run, 1970. "Marijuana's going to be like liquor, packaged and taxed and sold right off the shelf."

Twice Joe invokes the idea that marijuana is a gateway drug.

After his wife leaves him, he becomes a dog thief. You'll see.

Is that a feather flower on the coffee table?

Jean invokes the Bible, Ephesians 6. "Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath. The old ways are not their ways. Your dusk is their dawn. The future is theirs."

Joe busts out Ephesians 5. "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise."

Sort of a biblical way of saying "come correct."

She posits that Coleridge was into hash and wrote Xanadu while tripping.

Fits into her character's English literature major background, nice touch.

Marijuana, Coleridge, Hash, Xanadu... We need a friendly face...

Sure is! 

The guys try to wangle her into looking into Robin's not-yet-a-case and she shows us some photographs of real child abuse and neglect. She tells us about how wives are trapped with their kids and violent husbands. The county is ill-equipped to handle domestic abuse and violence cases. 
Doesn't sound that different from stories we hear about these days, sadly. People don't always have a safety net. Sleeping peacefully nights is a luxury we can't forget that we have.

It even seems like they used a soft focus filter. Maybe the lens was dirty. Doesn't matter. Looks nice:


"Can't bust 'em for the way they think."

"Fruit of the poppy."

Twelve ounces of heroin, which Bill says is worth a quarter of a million dollars on the street, or $3,600 wholesale. I don't know anything about heroin pricing. It annoys me enough when people type "heroin" when they really mean "heroine." 

"You wouldn't think a simple flower could cause so much grief."

"This tin button, you suppose this is what they're trying to tell us?"

The capital of Colorado is Denver. Oh, crap, wrong episode.

Frederick Lawrence Tosca! How did you get off death row?!

Still called Freddy. "Freddy the Loader." I guess for being a wino and freeloading "love grass" from Jean and Paul in Sherman Oaks? Well, he rats them out. Says there's a really wild weed party going on there. We'll just have to see about that. Cue the bongos.

Kent McCord?! Jeff Malloy? This episode is turning into a family reunion!

And a familiar-looking night driving sequence? I'll take it!

Another installment of JOE KICKS IN THE DOOR

Okay, same front room, wider shot, a lava lamp replaces the feather flower on the coffee table. It's nearing midnight, so the lighting is less direct. 



She's a total space cadet, but that dress is super-snazzy.

"This lid was on the drain board."
That's two words out of parlance.

"Don't you people know where your baby is?"
Bill, that's harrowing. 

Set decor compensates like crazy for not having any windows with plants, pictures of plants, and mirrors.

Washed-out lilac walls, a gold shower curtain, a green rug, and that reddish-mauve bathtub? 
Only on Dragnet.

Oh, yeah, you dope fiends. Your toddler is drowned in there.


Orange pleated curtains over the window that I'm certain isn't there, and the tub is overflowing, for effect:

Then Brenda Scott has to hug a fake baby in a blue towel.
Just so we have EVERY conceivable color represented in one bathroom set.


Jack Webb hated marijuana.

And how.

"Due to the death of their daughter, Paul Shipley was found guilty on a charge of involuntary manslaughter. He was placed on probation. Jean Shipley did not stand trial. As a result of the tragedy, she was placed under the supervision of the State Department of Mental Hygiene."

Jean Shipley
Now confined at Camarillo State Hospital and undergoing treatment.

American lawmakers banned cannabis as a drug in 1937, thirty years before this episode aired.

Number of times Robin/Robbie is said: 17

Marijuana counter: 22

Jack Webb as Sgt. Joe Friday
Harry Morgan as Off. Bill Gannon
Brenda Scott as Jean Shipley
Timothy Donnelly as Paul Shipley
______ as Little Robin Shipley
Merry Anders as Policewoman Dorothy Miller
Robert Knapp as Captain Al Trembly
Ed Prentiss as Charles Porter
Kent McCord as 2nd Officer
James Oliver as Fred Ludden
Jeff Malloy as 1st Officer
_____ as lady in polka-dotted dress

Art Direction - Russell Kimball
Set Decor - John McCarthy & John Sturtevant

Writer - David H. Vowell

2 November 1967

Drop in next Saturday for season two, episode nine, "The Big Ad" & the return of Don Dubbins
He'll do anything!


  1. They showed us this episode when I was in Elementary school. I learned I should never get high and let the baby drown. I hope all the other kids did too.

  2. 1.) "Okay, well, if your daughter is 22, she isn't old enough to know better." Then why is she allowed to vote?
    2.) You can see the famous Cock n' Bull neon sign - they're on Sunset Strip.
    3.) "Jack Webb hated marijuana." So did I. I went to school with 60's and 70's potheads. Talk about a tiresome bunch.
    4.) "Washed-out lilac walls, a gold shower curtain, a green rug, and that reddish-mauve bathtub?" Potheads chose those colors when they were high!
    5.) "It annoys me enough when people type "heroin" when they really mean "heroine." It's cavalry/calvary that bugs me.

  3. ...and somehow he managed to become a firefighter after the dog thief thing.

  4. Something I always found funny about this episode Jean Shipley's misquoting of Ephesians. Had he quoted it accurately it wouldn't have really helped her case much. In actuality, depending on translation, is reads "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." which in some ways is what her father was trying to do.

    It seems like the writers somehow combined to different verses. Isaiah 55:8 reads "For my thoughts are not your thoughts,neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord." and is the closest I can find in the bible to the second half of her quote.

    Interestingly, if you search for "the old ways are not their ways" (booleans and all) it only has two hits. Both are Dragnet sites, and one is this page.

    That is how I found your lovely website.

    1. Awesome! Thanks for dropping off some biblical scholarship in my humble blog.
      Really interesting stuff!

      Thank you for stopping by. You're always welcome.

      Suzy Dragnet

  5. This is one of my favorites, since it's scared me having first saw what happened in the bathtub on a repeat in 1968.

  6. The guy they bring in for possession, who then rats out Paul Shipley, also ratted out Benjie 'Blue Boy' Carver (after Carver sold him 2 bum trips - and he though he was a mole living in a tunnel or something).

    Once a Rat, always a Rat LOL!!

  7. I was trying to remember the name of this episode. A coworker asked if Joe Friday had ever vomited at the scene of a crime and I said, "No, but Bill has." I typed "dragnet stoners baby drowns" and what was the first hit on Google? Good Old Everybody Nods!

  8. Yes, us Gen xers received such great care from our boomer parents..

  9. Perfect timing for me to watch this episode. In 2 days California will legalize recreational weed! Took 50 years, take that Bill!!

  10. AKA one of the two dead baby episodes

    Before I came across your site, I was thinking of making a wiki of all the episodes, so you could link to every instance of each trope: Joe hates marijuana, Joe kicks in a door, Joe and Bill waste food/beverage, Bill discusses wallpaper...