Saturday, August 17, 2013

"The Christmas Story" / "The Big Little Jesus" & Special Dragnet Time Machine!

This episode is a special Christmastime episode of Dragnet, a remake of black & white Dragnet. It is also the intersection of Dragnet and The Brady Bunch.

Jack got to make this episode twice (1953 & 1967) and it doesn't waver much from color to black and white presentation. At times, the dialogue is eerie when the episodes are watched back to back. It's an excellent study of television production conventions in each era.

The conventions of policing also changed in the intervening time. You and I can't think of a time when officers could disrupt your day without even reading you your Miranda Rights, new for Summer 1966.  



 Joe has a very simple intro this week. Some familiar pans and the simplest statement:


"This is the city-- Los Angeles, California. I work here. I carry a badge."

 





HOLD THE PHONE


With respect to the set, this one is aces. The guys get to show us 1967 interiors of The Mission San Fernando, which is as old as the City of Los Angeles. It had just designated a Historic Cultural Monument in 1963. Jack Webb was a serious L.A. booster, this church is clearly the most romantic location possible.
 




The Mission San Fernando - Home To First Class Interiors.





Yes, yes. Red lighting gels because this is Dragnet and Subtlety Rules the Day.


Harry Bartell looks frightening in that outfit.




Harry Morgan seems to have more lines that normal and he really shines this episode.
 


I DON'T GET ANY LINES


ME NEITHER



















At the down & outer's hotel, multicolored lighting gels reach a fever pitch!



If I got a chance to retool that scene, Muppets would spring out and a full Muppet Show style musical number would happen and all of the Dragnet stars that have Muppet doubles would appear. And at the end, Kermit would thank everyone for performing backstage as they walked by him. And Jim Henson wouldn't be dead. Anyway!





Big Mean Carl is the skipper this episode. 



BIG MEAN WHAT?





Bobby Troup "looked like a man who'd had his troubles at bargain rates."

Man! they apprehend the shit out of him.




Greg Brady ruined this guy's Christmas Eve. All he wanted to do was sing some damn Christmas Carols with his pals at The Golden Dream Hotel like he had for the last seven years. If Greg Brady said this guy is forty years old, he would be singing tenor in the Down & Out Quartet for seven years... since age 33. At some point after 1966, he worked at a mini-golf.
That's a lot of exposition for just a character that turned out to be The Wrong Guy.

I adore Bobby's Hipster Beard. So scruffy. Vincent Dee really outdid himself on Bobby this episode.




I'LL GET YOU NEXT TIME








Joe's zinger is at Father Bartell.








S2e15

Aired 21 December 1967

Starred
Jack Webb as Sergeant Joe Friday
Harry Morgan '67 as Officer Bill Gannon
Ben Alexander '53 as Officer Frank Smith
Harry Bartell as Father Xavier Rojas
Bobby Troup '67 / James Griffith '53 as Claude Stroup

Byron Morrow '67 as Captain Mack

Walter Sande '53 as Captain Barnard
Ralph Moody as Mr. Flavin
Herb Vigran as Desk Clerk
Barry Williams/Greg Brady '67 / Billy Chapin '53 as The Heffernan Kid
Fernando Vasquez '67 / Joe Carioca, Jr. '53 as Paco Mendoza

Art Direction - Russell Kimball
Set Decor - John McCarthy & John Sturtevant
Costumes - Vincent Dee

Written by Richard L. Breen

Join us now for Special Dragnet Time Machine!



Back we go,


an astonishing SIXTY years ago.


to 1953.

This was the city.


Of course, mailing Christmas cards.





How cool is this?


And then their car comes out of the side of the building.



Still using the sun to light the exterior shots in '67.











HA HA HI GUYS
JESUS HAS MY BACK


The compression in the shots is a little tough. Everything is smushed together in the frame. Many of the extreme closeups are hard to watch on even a computer screen. It's easier to imagine them beaming through a 1950s TV screen


HOLD THE PHONE 
1953 Editon!


Body double for the redheaded kid with no lines.


Body double for the other Light Hanging Extra.


All right, all right. Let's play with Ralph Moody.


Remember him from his other appearances in our blog.


THAT'S JUST META, LADY


That tie is ferocious. I love it. WOW.


For his next trick, Ralph will quintuple the size of this statue!



This is such a great shot! Such a close relative to the ones with Parker Center that we're used to.


This building's (interior) set would have been re-constructed stylistically to appear in Color Dragnet.



Everyone Wears Hats All The Time


Welcome to Sixty Years Ago, kid. All of the men wear hats here.

This is cool - a sign painter for some reason! How about that!?


Those are Joe and Frank's shadows. Cool shot. 


This place seems far more down and out.


Tinsel unicorn.



OOH IT'S YOU!


Herb Vigran looking fourteen years more youthful.


Go on. Ruin the tenor's Christmas Eve.


YES SIR WE KNOW HOW THIS EPISODE ENDS


SIGH HERE WE GO



HOLD THE PHONE


WIDE LAPELS ARE EVERYWHERE


Bobby Troup's unfortunate body double.


Oh! They do apprehend the hell out of the poor guy.


What decade is that suit?



DAMMIT WE JUST RUINED THAT GUY'S CHRISTMAS EVE


Hi Father Harry. Your church is off the chain! 


How hard is that to pull off? The symmetry is a little painful. 



Check that out: totally different set.



Bye Paquito. Thanks for rolling in when we were here so we could wrap up our terribly endearing case.






YES
I GET TO TRAVEL 14 YEARS INTO THE FUTURE AND MAKE THIS EPISODE AGAIN

I WIN


Thank you! That is the end of the first ever SPECIAL DRAGNET TIME MACHINE!

See you around next week. 


-Suzy Dragnet


4 comments:

  1. My wife watched this one with me and said, "I feel guilty for laughing at something so endearing!"

    I said, "Yes, Ma'am."

    ReplyDelete
  2. Although no color prints may still exist, the original Dragnet episode of this story was filmed and broadcast "In Color" by NBC. Scroll down to 1953 for the link. People often make the mistake that the newer episode was a remake of a black in white episode when in fact, it was not.

    http://www.novia.net/~ereitan/rca-nbc_firsts.html

    ReplyDelete
  3. Apparently Jack chose the Mission San Fernando location because his friend Richard L. Breen is buried in the cemetery there. (He still got credit for writing the episode, even though he died in February 1967.)

    ReplyDelete
  4. James Griffith was also in the 1954 Dragnet movie...

    ReplyDelete