Saturday, December 21, 2013

"Police Commission DR-13" or "Wildcatters!" or "Robert Holt vs. Dragnet"

This episode is notable because it's written by Robert Holt. It gives the episode more of Dragnet wearing Adam-12's clothes feeling with respect to structure and rhythm.

 Part of the objective of Adam-12 was to modernize the depiction of police on the beat in L.A. As such, the patrol car and radio is a bit like a character in the show. This episode has a pretty big cast. I also love that they call Art Gilmore Captain Milemore on the episode about dishonest tow truck drivers. But that's just where the fun begins.

Camera angles are tested on Gannon holding the radio microphone and partially out of the car, as we will see.

In the garage set, we hear the Lady Dispatcher voice. Kent McCord and Martin Milner don't appear, sadly, unless we imagine them there shuffling around anonymously in the back of shots.

Is the future of Dragnet going to be styled like Adam-12? I sure hope not.

Joe also gets a lot of opportunities to express intrigue or thoughtfulness in this episode.
Let's take a look.

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

In the 1890's, freight and passenger travel through the San Fernando Valley to the Los Angeles plain came by wagon over the Cahuenga Pass.

Thirty years later, hundreds of automobiles turned out for the opening of the Mulholland Highway--
bumper to bumper, a hint of the future.

By 1928, there was one horseless carriage for every 2.25 people.

Today, there are over four million cars in the county, and seven freeways have replaced the dirt roads of yesteryear.

With hundreds of thousands traveling these freeways daily, there are bound to be some problems.
Most are accidents. Occasionally, they get more involved.

That's when I go to work. I carry a badge.

Art Gilmore seems to be less mild and more like how he is when appearing with William Boyett as one of the bosses on Adam-12.

It's almost like a Harry Morgan Mugshot.

This set gets used on Adam-12:

Nydia Westman is here to annoy us (not unlike her appearances on Adam-12).

But it's okay because she has kittens!!!

Kittens? In the episode about Wildcatters?! 


This driving sequence is adjacent to one from a few episodes back in which they appear to cross in front of that same church.

This sequence also has both a Richfield and a Standard Oil. Petrol stations in Los Angeles? You gotta be kidding me.

That 1966 Fairlane can take you anywhere.

Even to Hollywood where the Chances live. 

Beige, blue, wood, chrome, gold tone, green, orange, a weird chandelier, What the hell, Art Director John E. Chilberg, II?

Fats Chance. I see what you did there.

John Dennis gets the two best lines uttered on Dragnet - "EEEEHHH!" and "EEEEEEEH!"

Eve McVeagh is back, being put-upon. I love her.

This is the part of the Gannon-on-the-phone sequence. In prior episodes, Joe has stood smoking nearby. 

Being an actor must be so weird.

On this one, the wall says Post No Bills.

Gannon, I guess we can't leave you here. We'll have to be moving along.

Pilar Del Rey gets a really neat jukebox in her set.

South Santa Fe and East Victoria seem like what they mean, geographically. It doesn't look like a good place for any kind of restaurant - tamale, or otherwise.

City historians? Anyone?

A Tamale House. Is that a figure of speech or like a pancake house?

Marco Antonio doesn't tell us.

This episode is also another neat crossover point in Adam-12 - you hear the same Lady Dispatcher Voice in JKA Towing's garage.

This episode is about OPGs - Los Angeles Official Police Garages

The garage set is pretty elaborate, by Dragnet production standards, at least.

And we've got John Sebastian back. In the pilot movie, he's on the force, but by season three he's always a criminal. He's been in the mob, and now he must be laying low by working in the shop, here.


Gotta find some candy beans in this car or I'm going to lose my shit!


That desk is some kind of mess!

I'll bet there are some candy beans in there. 




Some investigating and then it's back to the strangely still no-longer-green Parker Center.

 The lack of that green is really getting to me! Damn you, Art Director John E. Chilberg, II! Damn you to Art Director hell. Whatever that would be like.

Coffee! Wonderful! Perfect diversion!

The Rampart Station set on Adam-12 also is stocked with machines like this. Hmm. (We'll have to just take a closer look at Adam-12, won't we?)

Yes, please! I love coffee.

Waitaminute! It's Joe With Joe!

That's some good Joe with Joe!

"Leg it to the nearest gas station? Not if you're a woman, you don't!"
 Haha. Sexism. Feminism. Footwear limitations. Polyester. Whatever. Postmodernism.

Postmodernism? More like post-mortem:

Another Double HOLD THE PHONE!

Gannon makes the symmetry seem off in this shot, but the camera is centered. I checked.
You can also hold a Post-it Note up to the monitor. Gannon's chair touching the left frame threw me off. It's got Wes Andersonian symmetry.


This is the fifth driving sequence, right? I'm losing count of all the time we're spending with the car.

This is the Adam-12 type Gannon on the radio shot that I mentioned before:

The woman in the background looks a hell of a lot like Peggy Webber. A snazzy dame for a snazzy set presented with jaunty framing:

It is her, isn't it?

I love Tragic Peggy Webber. She should be in more episodes. We miss her.



Why must Bill fear for his wellbeing constantly? The lamps always want to attack him.

Vending machines!  This set even has a cigarette machine.

It also has a lady doing her job. (Go girls!) The place looks pretty upbeat; I like the flower paintings. The orange banquettes are nice. Peach tablecloths. Those look like some leftover pink walls from the Central Receiving Hospital set. The waitress lady has a nice contrasting pastel going on.

"Brass in Pocket" would be decent outro music for the episode with its Robert Holt silliness.

Kittens? In a cop show. About wildcatters. No other Dragnet writer would dare pull such a shenanigan.

"On September 8, a Hearing was held before the Police Commission Examiner, City of Los Angeles…"

"Evidence presented a the police commission hearing firmly established the fact that Edward L. Jones was a partner in J. K. A. Towing and Auto Repair. The Hearing examiner's recommendation to the police commission led to final revocation of Anzo's permit on the grounds that he conducted business in a manner not comporting with the public welfare. Charges of grand theft auto and assault are pending against Edward L. Jones."

"The governor of the State of California signed into law Assembly Bill 1650 which now gives the authority to all local police departments in the state to regulate all tow car service operation, including the licensing thereof."

California Legislature


Section 21100 - Vehicle Code
Sub Section (e)

Jack Webb as Sergeant Joe Friday
Harry Morgan as Officer Bill Gannon
Larry Pennell as John K. Anzo
John Sebastian as Eddie Jones
Art Gilmore as Captain George Milemore
Nydia Westman as Phoebe Kensington
John Dennis as Perry "Fats" Chance
Eve McVeagh as Margaret Chance
Vince Williams as Gary Houston
Pilar Del Rey as Maria Arruba
Marco Antonio (Marco Lopez) as Officer Danny Galindo

Additional Cast
Peggy Webber as Coffee Drinking Woman
______ as Waitress

Additional Notes

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

Written by Robert I. Holt

Aired 17 October 1968

Enjoy this nice Dragnet wood grain:

Deal a little damage in the comments section; I won't tow you away.
Suzy Dragnet


  1. Not sure why, but this episode has always been a low-level favorite of mine. I guess I like it because Friday and Gannon get out off the office quite a bit and do some actual investigating. Looking at Google Maps, it appears that Santa Fe Avenue and Victoria Avenue run parallel, so it seems that the location as given in this episode doesn't really exist. I've often wondered why Jack Webb gave so many bogus locations when he strove for realism in every other aspect. Compare this with Season One, Episode Three (The Kidnapping), where Friday references several very real locations in the Toluca Lake/North Hollywood areas. He even namechecks Bank of America. I wonder why the disparity between the first and latter seasons?


    1. Hi WM,

      The bogus locations drive me nuts! One of my favorite flubs is when Joe narrates that an apartment house is two story, but moments later we meet tenants from the third and fourth floors.

      Maybe trading real locations for bogus ones is a side effect of pioneering the true-cop-show genre. By season three, Mark VII was producing Dragnet and Adam-12 simultaneously; so maybe knockoff locations were a way to anonymize the cases more so than just changing names to protect the innocent.

      I'll keep thinking about it.


  2. Why are you so mean to my Uncle--John Edward Chilberg II. He was a really nice guy. Diane

    1. Hi Diane,

      I'm just joking around. There's no Dragnet style to study without the art director.

      No need to be offended. It's all building up to comparing John Chilberg's style to Russ Kimball's in future posts. They're both very spare, but approached things differently. Kimball did most of seasons one & two; Chilberg did 3 & 4.

      I knew this day would come,
      Suzy Dragnet

    2. It didn't take you long to respond. One of my favorite things he did was the house on the hill in Psycho. Different subject--I know. Diane

    3. Hi Diane,

      Thank you for the tip about the Psycho house. I'll have to watch it again and use my "Chilberg eye" this time. Ooh! Maybe I can make a set of posts about Chilberg's and Kimball's other shows and films.

      Cheers & Merry Anders I mean Christmas!
      Suzy Dragnet

  3. Marco Antonio,aka Marco Lopez.He was also Webb's stand in and stunt double and later played Firefighter Marco Lopez on Emergency.BTW,LOVE this blog.I was friends with Webb's daughter Stacy and as a kid watched Adam 12 film a lot.Glad you are keeping his show alive!!!

    1. Hi Raul,

      Welcome to Everyone Nods! That's so cool that you got to be friends with Stacy. I'm just discovering Adam-12, but I'm a longtime student of Dragnet. Mark VII recycling actors was the best. I definitely would enjoy the trio of Dragnet, A-12, and Emergency! less if there hadn't been so many overlapping cast members.

      See you soon,
      Suzy Dragnet

  4. If Webb liked you,he would use you again and again.I spend a lot of my days off walking around Downtown LA and did a photo journey of the Dragnet Christmas(1953 version).Would love to show the pictures if you want to see them.I post ALOT on my Facebook!My email is

  5. 1.) Note the blood on the broken glass windshield. Is this a Dragnet first?

    2.) What on earth are those white things stacked up in the bowl behind Fats?!? Garlic?

    3.) That church is on Highland in Hollywood.

    4.) That newsguy is wearing a chromakey blue jacket. Funny.

    1. 1.) I think so. Have we already done the one when Robert Clarke has like two epic DUIs? If so, that would predate this one. I think they do avoid blood in that one.

      2.) Yep. It's pretend garlic as a table decoration. Not unheard of.

      3.) Highland. Good eye.

      4.)Someone has mentioned about the news guys with chromakey jackets. It has been remarked upon, another blog, I think. I'll go rack my brain about it.

      Suzy Dragnet

  6. Notice the white car Eddie Jones is working on. That's a later model Corvair. Probably a 1965. When I was a kid I knew another kid whose father collected Corvairs, which was weird in those days because it was just the 70's, Corvairs weren't even 20 years old yet and could hardly be considered classics. The earlier Corvairs (pre-1964) were much cooler.

  7. Dragnet, Adam 12, The FBI, The Monkees, Get Smart and many others filmed almost weekly on Moorpark street from Tujunga to Colfax during the spring and summer. In some of the stock footage for the back-grounds you see my Mom taking in the trash cans from our home on Moorpark Street ! ... Henry's Tacos on the corner of Moorpark and Tujunga was also a favorite for MarkIV to film in ! Often we would receive notices on the front door that the next day between certain hours if you heard gunfire do not worry don't call the Police !... it was filming for a show ! AHDIII

  8. One of my favorite Dragnet crossover stories, with the Beverly Hillbillies' Dash Riprock running the crooked towing company.

    Is that disembodied voice on the garage speaker really Adam-12 dispatcher Shaaron Claridge? She was an actual LAPD dispatcher and accordingly the one time she appeared on-camera they set up the camera angles so she couldn't be recognized. (And she really did spell her first name with two A's.)