Saturday, November 23, 2013

Public Affairs - DR-07 or "The Speak Your Mind Show show"

The forty-sixth episode opens season three of Dragnet. For some reason, the titles change to department name and a Dr-xx number. Worse still, they don't air in order. (I will give them ersatz titles, don't worry.) Anything to compel someone to watch, right?

The opening pan is more like a faster look right with two quick pulls back.
I'm not a fan of it. Perhaps I'm more of a steady-vistas and snap cuts sort of person.

Season three is already off to a bizarre start.  Jack only says, "This is the city, Los Angeles-- California. I work here. I carry a badge" and we're off. Boldest title card yet, writers featured at the beginning of the season, we will experience Peak Dragnet. Some of the season three stories are weird, beautifully executed, and informative and masterful. 

Production now moves according to the spirit of Art Director John E. Chilberg, II. 

You know what? I'm not even going to his IMDB page. We're going to make him up as we go along.
The orange and blue days under the art direction of Russell Kimball have now met their end.

Wall art levels will be monitored.



This is serious mid-century modern institutional style. 

We remember Joe Friday from the radio from 1949, a long black and white TV run in which hats were worn, and now entering his junior year at Men Not Wearing Hats Anymore University, I mean Dragnet 1969.

Jack Webb as Joe seems to have become a significant piece of America by September 1968.

The 1967 summer of love fiasco was making everyone conscious of law enforcement, everyone has to have an opinion. (and bathe.) 

Welcome to the non-green portion of the PAB Soundstage.

"Your Soundstage With Style"

Dennis McCarthy returns as the boss. My first choice would have been Art Gilmore.

Clutter all over the pinboards and a brand new art director! John E. Chilberg, II is making himself known. 

Anyway, Friday and Gannon learn that they are asked to be tortured by dissidents on live television.

This is a really fun episode. The recycled extras are just too much fun. It's also the second time Dragnet has had a pretend TV show. The first time was when Joe was interviewed by Jerry Dexter.

The 1968-1969 season will feature 27 episodes and in 1969, The randomly-titled TV movie from 1966 will be broadcast at last. We'll get to compare styles at Peak Dragnet to the visual handling and execution of the first jab at this thing angular thing we have come to enjoy.

In Dennis' shadow, there's a cute poster of a policeman directing traffic with a big coat in a nice, nonthreatening light blue and a more neutral font in strong all caps that says, 'respect law enforcement'. 


Don Ross at the intersection of some beigeness.

Gannon gets hauled in by an aggressive hairdresser/makeup artist.

Who could it be? None other than Mr. Horton Bates, a con man who faked his own death only to actually appear in Dragnet episodes a couple of times!

Look at this piece of the set - I know we are only supposed to see it for a second.
Let's look at it for several.

Ha! It's a PAB interrogation room wall with pictures scotch-taped to the wall. 
Two guys from a horn section, a man in a suit with a fairly skinny tie, a babe on the beach, and a prize winning poodle.

Hmm. John E. Chilberg, II might be a hack. Even Suzy Dragnet can scotch-tape stuff to a wall.
Actually I do it like that; make sure everything is level when it goes up. A valuable side effect of architecture college.

Sheesh, it even has the very same door knobs as the Parker Center set:


Blink and you miss it; Don Ross tells Horton to work on Anthony Eisley's cowlick.
We also see his bright purple sweater! Very nice.

Gay hairdressers for the win. He is the second one. The first gay hairdresser was in The Hammer.

I'm a little sad that that's a thing. Well, it was 1968 in America. The TV on at nighttime.

Don Ross has new glasses and is perched beside a brand new rotary dial pay phone. 
1969, we're coming for you.

This is an updated version of an L-shaped hallway set from season one. 
Gold carpet rather than marmoleoum/linoleum. Same panels, same doors, and instead of glass at the top, they made it opaque above the doors. 

What's cute is that it looks as though they are standing on carpet, but when they walk forward, they make a hard-surface sound. 


Hello, Chuck Bowman. Nice to actually see you.

"SPEAK YOUR MIND - The show that every week dares to be different, dramatic, and daring. This week's guest will discuss the topic 'The police - who needs them?"

"Anything can happen and usually does when host Chuck Bligh is around. And now, here's that number one judge, Chuck Bligh."

OK, it's a pretend-court sort of panel show.

Anthony Eisley was previously knows as The Handsomest Dragnet Villain. He escaped Chino and made it to TV!

"Well, sir, tonight we're going to get to the nitty-gritty about your friendly fuzz-- your local police officers. Okay, our first guest needs no introduction. Professor Tom Higgins, historian, social critic, and political activist, is one of L.A.'s makers and shakers. No ivory tower for this egghead." 

Stacy Harris, I gaze into my Dragnet crystal ball and see you becoming an insane fake park ranger in the near future.


"Our next guest is Jesse Chaplin, editor-publisher of L.A.'s favorite underground newspaper. He's the man responsible for The Free Forum, the thinking man's newspaper."

Howard Hesseman, I gaze into my Dragnet crystal ball and see a future for you in Cincinnati

The Free Forum is another generic L.A. Free Press, such as we saw with Don Dubbins.

I was expecting a much cooler ash tray on the table. Stacy Harris cleans his pipe out, for crying out loud. And Howard is also smoking cigarettes in this episode. Plenty of other episodes have amazing pottery or glass ash trays on desks that no one ever uses.

Perhaps I have answered my own question. Prop management.

"One Fuzz is a fizz," says Jesse Chaplin, the mean-ish hippie.

The outfit is neat, it's tough to read the buttons and pinbacks, though.

"Property rights are all they care about, not human rights."

A land of cathode ray tubes and NTSC.

Bill's oft-referenced wife, Eileen, watches this show.

"Now on the other side, we have invited two of the local fuzz to join us tonight.…Officer Bill Gannon and Sergeant Joe Friday, Los Angeles Police Department."

Gannon gets to give us these statistics about L.A. circa 1968:

10,000 robberies
60,000 burglaries
1,400 rapes
281 murders
26,000 car thefts

in one city. In a year. Doesn't that seem like a lot?

Now, let's go ahead and meet our extras in the 45-person studio audience.

Left half:

Right half:

Vincent Dee is all over his game in this episode. Many styles of dress are present. Prints, turtlenecks, cowls, hats, dashikis, all sorts of styles.

Sidney Clute as Harry Wilson asks a lot of questions about gun control.

"If you have time to get to your gun, you have time to get to a phone and call us," advises Gannon.

Lou Wagner as John Dietz wants to know why weed and LSD are illegal.

I like the shot with his eyes closed. He was one of Sgt. Friday's juveniles a couple of weeks ago in season two.

Friday advises against LSD sugar cubes in favor of "magical cubes called books".

Next up is Charles Brewer as Charles Varco, formerly Officer Ron Braven, who wonders, "What about the bad laws?"

"Doesn't a man of conscience have the obligation do disobey outmoded laws?"

Now time for a quick gab with Dick Williams, playing Mondo Mabamba, about race relations and things. He's president of the Black Widow Party, which seems to be an ersatz Black Panther Party.

His fellow Black Widow partiers also wear neat batik dashikis.

Mondo asks,"Why don't you boys walk a beat like the fuzz back east?"
I love this sentence.

Joe tells us about how candidates for the police academy are selected, why they go bonkers when an officer gets shot/killed. He also references the shooting board.

Gannon gives us more stats - the LAPD has to cover 254 square miles with 5,700 officers.
Concurrently, New York has 28,000 policemen; Chicago has 12,000. 

This iteration of Joe Friday has been on the force for 12 years. He pulled his gun eight times, and fired it twice, once in the aforementioned Shooting Board episode.

Speedy Zapata, (really- that's his name-) wants to know why the LAPD is prejudiced against Mexican Americans and short people.
He knows Judo and is 5'4" tall. Ladies?

Lastly, Penny Gaston praises the PD and gets laughed back to her seat.

Reminds me that the best thing about being a woman is that no one will take you seriously, so all the pressure is off. Just look pretty.

Feminism, everyone's looking at you.

Make love, not war.
"Wouldn't it be nice if that were the alternative?" says Friday.

Not the first time we've seen closeups of Jack's hands or pinbacks in the series. 



Jack Webb as Sergeant Joe Friday
Harry Morgan as Officer Bill Gannon
Anthony Eisley as Chuck Bligh
Stacy Harris as Tom Higgins
Howard Hesseman / Don Sturdy as Jesse Chaplin
Dick Williams as Mondo Mabamba
Dennis McCarthy as Sergeant Dan Cooke
Don Ross as Monty Warren
Charles Brewer as Charles Varco
Sidney Clute as Harry Wilson
Lou Wagner as John Dietz
Penny Gaston as Diane Newcombe
Speedy Zapata as Jay Herrera
Chuck Bowman as Announcer

Additional Players:
Horton Bates/season four informant as Tony the Makeup Man

Art Direction - John E. Chilberg, II
Set Decor - John McCarthy & John Sturtevant
Costumes - Vincent Dee

Aired 19 September 1968

Written by Burt Prelutsky

Notable things about this episode:
1. New Art Director
2. Loads of Extras
3. No "everyone nodding at the end" sequence
4. Friday uses the word 'computer' twice

On the radio, "Born to be wild" by Steppenwolf went gold.

This issue of the Beaver County Times is slightly more useful in understanding the news of the day. (Saigon. Saigon. Saigon.)

Answer me this,
Suzy Dragnet


  1. I think the shirt/mumu that Mondo Mabamba is wearing is called a dashiki.

    1. Hi WM,
      Upon closer inspection, I see that pants are there, so it's not a mumu, it's definitely a dashiki. I feel like kind of a dummy about it. People don't express their African pride like that around here. I guess I have seen the shirts-and-hat thing on men before, years ago.
      I like the variation in textiles. I am happy that recycled sari skirts are easier to find, for instance.
      Thanks for your advice,
      Suzy Dragnet

  2. Anthony Eisley (Hawaiian Eye) and Stacy Harris (This Is Your FBI radio show) played detectives before they got on Dragnet, but on Dragnet they almost always played heels (I think Harris was a good guy once—only once—as a doctor or veterinarian or something). I thought Joe Friday was out to reform criminals, but in the case of Eisley & Harris he turned two detectives into crooks. What gives?

    1. Stacy Harris played Dr. Nice in the episode where zaftig Donna chucked her bambino in the trash because she thought the baby girl looked like her two timing heel in Viet Nam who married an Asian chick who "Love him long time." The good doctor pulls a mia culpa and saves said baby girl from that turning on and tuning out at that psychadelic happening in the sky.

  3. 1.) Gahhhhh! Conga drums in the third season theme music! I prefer the more film noirish steady one-two beat. It's more Dragnetish.

    2.) It would be SO cool if the babe on the beach photo on the wall was a publicity photo of Webb's ex Julie London...

    3.) Gun ownership: There is no getting around it, when seconds matter you can get a cop in minutes.

    4.) Pot smoking: Why didn't Joe talk about the little girl who drowned in the bathtub in a previous episode?

    5.) Bad laws: "The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly." - Abraham Lincoln

    6.) "Make Love Not War" - The modern version of this is the "Coexist" bumper stickers. Sadly, the people flying passenger jets into skyscrapers and beheading others don't care about them.

  4. I love the cheesy music so low budget but dated. Coincidentially the cheesy theme was the music that played over and over again at the "Colonial Soda Shop" where Friday went for the 411 on who chucked a baby girl in the trash can. Suzy Dragnet do you or anyone else know the name and artist of this song and some of the other Jack Webb low budget goodies from Dragnet and early Adam 12 episodes? And you neglected to add smart ass Hippie Howard Hessman answering the Mexican dude telling him. " Hey man be glad you didn't grow those 3 inches. Mexican dude wants to flip off hippie anglo a hole off but this is 1968 and you can't "speak your mind or flip your bird."

  5. I'm unhappy Dragnet changed composers between Season 2 and Season 3. I don't have the names here but I think it was Len Murray for the first two seasons, then the more traditional (dare I say, generic) sounds of Frank Comstock for the final two.
    There were some very creative scores in the first two seasons. I enjoyed the several jazz-based scores to certain episodes (Blue Boy, for ex.), and the use of unusual instruments (the red masks episode)...I read once why this change was made, but I don't remember. Either the network or viewers complained about the offbeat Lyn Murray scores. I thought they were great.

  6. Tony the Makeup Man looks a dead ringer for John Gilgreen who ripped off the Dept of Employment to the tune of 40 000 $$$ if I recall right in 'Frauds: DR 28'

  7. Some of us also remember Anthony Eisley from a couple of years earlier as the new neighbor on the Dick Van Dyke show who went on one date each with Sally and with Laura's cousin, and then never called either of them for a second date. When they pinned him down on it, he said he wouldn't date anyone twice until he resolved the anger issues that caused him to hit people he cared about.

    Creepiest DVD episode ever. Even Rob and Laura quickly locked their front door the second he left.

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  9. Kinda wish they would go back to height requirements. I was watching an episode of I think it was COPs one of the officers had to be about 4'5, he was a tiny little guy. I also like to watch Live PD, saw a female officer struggle to take a guy down. Both times I just had to laugh. I believe my Grandmother had told me that back when she was a kid, officers had to be like 6'0. Billy Barty could have become a police officer in todays world.