Friday, September 6, 2013

"The Big Prophet" or "Three guys talking in a room. Forever."

Enjoy that quick pan away from the fountain. It's the most normal thing you're going to get.

This episode is L O N G .

"This is the city-- Los Angeles, California. Critics once called it a cultural desert-- a city of sunbaked people and half-baked ideas. The new Civic Center is helping to modify that image.
In Los Angeles, ideas are big business. For some, the stranger, the better. As a rule, new ideas don't stay new for very long here. They grow big, but sooner rather than later, they all disappear. 
Some ideas are completely illegal. That's when I go to work. I carry a badge."


Anybody remember to bring a teleprompter?

A tiny portion of this episode was sampled by My Life With The Thrill Kill Cult's "After the Flesh"-

"I am the new way to go. I am the way of the future."

Oh boy. You always know something sad is coming when it looks anything like fun at first.

(You know you can click to enlarge that.)

I'm stoked on dope?

Let's legalize pot.

LSD for Lunch Bunch?!



QUICK! Maybe we can avert it...
Look at the roof of the car - you can see the reflection of the Munster's house further down Colonial Street, right?

Oh no, it's true! Well, there's no turning back now.

Temple of the Expanded Mind

Buy the ticket, take the ride.

 Legalize Marijuana?!

Pass the acid test!?

Tune in, turn on, drop out? Why would anybody think that's good advice?

Ok, Dragnet Production, I'm going to dig my heels into you now.
This is the absolute worst looking stained glass in the history of lazy acrylic painting.
Those window panes are absolutely terrifying.

Well, moving along.

A grass skirt hanging from the ceiling for some reason?

Little Sister had some hanging up in her bar, so it's not unprecedented.


The poster on the far left of the frame is one we will see again in the episode with the hippy house in season four. It's a nice design by Steve Sachs:

Okay, already this set makes no sense.

Let's just unpack what we're seeing right here.

Seriously, I'll wait.


You can click to enlarge, of course and enjoy glorious Dragnet details.

Church of the Universal God
To all who may read letters granting
Brother William Bentley
Having completed with all requirements prescribed by the trustees of this College
has been granted this 
Charter for the Temple of Expanded Mind
and to certify that foregoing is duly authorized by the Professors and Trustees
their signatures hereunto affixed with the seal of the College
on this 3rd day of ...? and then it all sort of trails off.

It looks to be signed by some sort of Dean.

Gannon checks out the text of The Church of the Universal God by Brother William.

"LSD opens the door to your mind, permits you to experience the whole of human expression. You live out every experience, no matter how bizarre. You create your own brave new world without ever leaving the comfort of your mind."

Liam had to be burning up in that paisley robe.

"I'm not here to make a profit, I'm here to be a prophet. I want to turn everybody on, let them find out for themselves about the beauty inside their own minds. If you've never taken the trip, you wouldn't know. You haven't seen it."

"In ten or fifteen years, the kids you're arresting now will be the senators, governors, and presidents. They'll be running the universities and writing the laws of the future."

 He purports to have taken acid several HUNDRED times. Who has that kind of free time?!

The lighting is so intense on the set!
Those drapes are so intense on the set!

A "temple maiden" painted this? 
Feminism, everyone's looking at you.

*cough* Never mind.

Modern art isn't any less weird these days.

Liam, Jack, Harry. 


Let's just take this apart from a set design standpoint.

Or if you're not into that, here's more of Jack Webb hating on recreational drug use:

Joe: "I know that, in fact, too many kids that begin with pot end up with heroin and then on to LSD. I know that if you drink, you suffer a loss of judgement if you drink to excess. But I also know that judgement returns when you sober up. I know-- and so do you-- that when you flip out on an acid trip, you never know when you're gonna slip out again. This is now, Bentley, not a couple of years ago. We've had time to see and study the effects of LSD. People who haven't had a dose in weeks sail out on another trip. They never know when. The minute they drop one acid capsule, or ingest it in any way, they've bought the farm. They've lost any chance to depend on and even restore that most precious of all inner senses- judgement. And to my way of thinking, without judgement, you might as well be dead. Your brain is, so why not the rest of you?"

It is absolute bare bones.

How about those drapes behind Gannon? They are fantastic!
But consider the vial of flowers to the left. Is it supposed to stand in for a "bong" or something?

"This new form of declaring personal freedoms in this country is disturbing, not because I'm a police officer-- because I'm a citizen. I'm a member, too. You people all stand on the same platform-- the same termite-ridden, decayed planks. What about my freedoms, my rights, my family's way of living? You don't concern yourself with that, do ya? You say no law or authority has the privilege of depriving you of anything so long as it concerns only you. Isn't that what you insist?"

Liam invokes the cannabis:liquor prohibition argument.


Here's our last wide shot of the Temple of the Expanded Mind interior and all of its light gels.

 They definitely stuffed as many things into the frame as possible.


All right, all right, let's say goodbye to the Whimsical Purple Columns and hello to officially calling this facade The Temple of The Expanded Mind from here on out. 

(and, I guess, retroactively, too?)

Littering and? Littering and?

Littering and? Littering and?

"As a result of further investigation, William Bentley, alias Brother William, was apprehended in the act of selling narcotics to a minor."

William Bentley

Now serving his sentence in the State Prison, San Quentin, California.


Jack Webb as Sergeant Joe Friday
Harry Morgan as Officer Bill Gannon
Liam Sullivan as William Bentley

Posters by Steve Sachs (So you mean that this episode was a commercial for Steve Sachs posters?)

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

Written by David H. Vowell. David wrote a total of nine episodes of Dragnet. 

Aired 11 January 1968.

What a year it's going to be. The series is now running concurrently with season six of Mad Men, for those keeping score at home.

Glad you tuned in.

"Marijuana is the flame. Heroin is the fuse. LSD is the bomb."
-Joe Friday

Suzy Dragnet

Here are the screen shots from Mad Men, which also had a mock-Timothy Leary sharing LSD with Roger Sterling and his wife Jane:

1 comment:

  1. Suzy, you're right. This is a LONNNNG episode! I kept wishing Joe would drop the hammer on that hippie.

    1.) "...a city of sunbaked people and half-baked ideas..." And nothing has changed! I used to wonder why the rest of the nation seemed to hate us when I lived in L.A. Having moved out of California - now I know.
    2.) "In ten or fifteen years, the kids you're arresting now will be the senators, governors, and presidents. And writing the laws of the future." And haven't they done a SWELL job of running the country?
    3.) This whole episode could have been summed up by something I once read in a book: "Keep your mind sufficiently open and it won't be long before somebody comes by to throw garbage into it."