I've spent over a year terrified of the time in which my day would come - I, Suzy Dragnet, am up against an episode so classic that there are links at the end of the post because some folks just can't get enough.
Actor-wise, if you can't get enough Howard Culver - and don't you dare try and joke around with yourself, fooling yourself that there is such a thing as enough Howard Culver, just hold on to your hat.
By episode eleven of season three, Dragnet - "the fuzz industrial" - is codified. This is the show. This is television. This is our medium. Art Director John E. Chilberg, II is in effect, per usual.
The voice that reads the title cards at the end of the episode before, and then as, everyone nods, is Chuck Bowman, right? The same Chuck Bowman that surfs around in the background of episodes?
The Speak Your Mind Show Show credits him as he has a moment of screen time before The Handsomest Dragnet Villain dashes by him replete with judge's robes and love beads.
"This is the city-- Los Angeles, California. I work here. I carry a badge."
That was quick! - and just a little footage of the Fairlane rounding a corner downtown near 150 Los Angeles street.
The color temperatures and the film stock make the colors so different.
Oh jeez, we don't even get to check in at Parker Center or Georgia Street Juvenile, Van Nuys, Hollywood, Rampart - no - We are whisked directly to Universal Studios where a fire truck has now assembled, along with a large quantity of extras. At first blush, I thought that they were clustered in front of Colonial Mansion (The Clover Club); but now I'm not so sure?
I DON'T KNOW YOU GUYS
THIS KID IS CONVINCED HE IS COVERED IN SNAKES
I hope this only took one take.
That fussing about snakes is really annoying.
Gannon's hand is finally featured and he fakes us out with artificial sugar:
Cute bit, right!?
We are about to spend FOREVER there with Howard Culver.
Yes, Here sits Jack Webb on the Parker Center set. The wiggly lines behind the file drawers seem more like window dressing and less like the steady rigidity such as we observed in many other episodes, as far back as that time we were trapped in a room with Kent McCord.
Gannon says, "Pot, speed, LSD; why the devil do the kids mess with that garbage? It's like they've got a grudge against themselves. I mean it, Joe. What's really going on with these young people? That boy today - Where's the kick in going out of your head?"
Joe counters with, "You see it over in Juvenile. 8 and 9 year old glue sniffers.
10 year old acid freaks. They keep telling us that our society's more sophisticated. Looks like we've got the drugs to go along with it, doesn't it?"
Just so we're all on the same page, here comes Clark Howat with Howard Culver.
He's going to talk forever. Let's cut the chat (unless it's amusing) and just enjoy the visual style.
Vincent Dee still has Clark Howat in that nice aubergine tie. His jacket is a little kicky, too.
I don't care for any of Howard Culver's one-shots during this take, so here is his one from the first Smarteens meeting:
What does Howard Culver smell like?
Seriously. Any guesses?
Ditto for this location:
I think it looks better warmer. Which do you prefer? A or B?
Next, the gang took a location shot of Disney's studio (is it?) to show how by way of TV magic, we could really believe that Thomas Bellin is really using that magic marker, too!
Here is an adjusted level version of the next shot:
The color temperature is subtle; which do you like better, A or B?
What a charming workplace. Just charming. Like Sal Romano's "fArt" department at Sterling Cooper.
It's just too spare to be a real cartoonist's workplace!
Check out these shots of Al's hands:
This actor is styled by Vincent Dee in an ensemble appealing to …kind of a few of my ex-boyfriends.
Plus, I don't know that we'll see this Faux Bertino again, so there.
We start to see some of the finished work:
This is a first iteration. Thank you, design school.
This feels like school. Let's watch the clock.
Wow. Remember how much time we spent looking at that thing in class growing up?
And over here:
and falling asleep
and jostling awake - No, I wasn't sleeping.
What's that, Howard?
Teenage Anti-Drug Fashion Show!
Brown leather jacket.
Ribbon pigtails and puffy polka-dot sleeves? She gets to carry a clutch purse, though.
And they get summer school credit.
I WILL CHAIR THIS MEETING OR KILL ALL OF YOU
The blue dress lady we just saw is now coming back through the door trailed by yellow-oxford-shirt, but this time he has the v-neck sweater and she has a pretty cardigan.
All eyes on you, Vincent Dee.
Here's our first glimpse of the designs for the Smarteens posters:
Orange roll-neck knit sweater.
Green and white button-up with button-down collar.
Either reasonable and cotton or miserable and polyester. It's one of those not quite-gray/not quite blue non-colors.
I bet Vincent put vertical stripes on this dude so he would look taller on TV?
This show was airing in December, so it't not off the wall to put a character into a V-neck sweater.
Here is some generalized craziness on behalf of the background players:
Dragnet has come a long way in its classroom settings.
This one has neat hanging lights, an American flag, and even a piano.
It seems like a souped-up version of the school room from The Susan Seaforth episode.
That seems to wrap it up.
See you next week for some surprises.
And, at long last, here is our close-up view of Al Bertino's poster designs.
Charming stuff; personally I appreciate the "white space" and the cute typography:
Pot and Pills - Trip or Trap?
Stupidity starts with the first drag, pop, pill, or fix.
Jeez, too much text is a drag. I like the skull made out of negative space over the character's head.
His feet look like funny bars of soap.
Is he sitting on the curb?
He is sporting a George Jetson-sort of nose.
Other than the terrifying flower-face and the aggressive visual strength of the BE A SMARTEEN ! portion, It's cute.
The slogan, "When Flower Children go to pot
They Become BLOOMING IDIOTS"
This is a nice example of how to fit a lot of text into the poster without making it seem like a drag (previous).
SPEED KILLS! Don't "METH" around!
So cute, don't you adore a pun?
Methamphwhatever in a needle? UGH! And this is before such things as needle exchange services existed. People can cook it (smoke it?) with some sort of bubble-pipe, sniff it up their noses, and I don't even want to know anymore about that stuff. Meth is just too freaky.
Then, there is "old reliable" -
Everything about this poster is classic late modern graphic design.
It is primarily text except for the "stamp out stupidity" logo centered at the bottom.
It's font-heavy, the pink is a polite pairing which aids the readability of the black letters - i.e. 'pay more attention, just this once.'
The font is hippyish and reminds me of the logotype of a certain regional record store chain.
(and, thereafter, anything and everything that had to do with a turtle. Forever.)
SOS - are you ready to stamp out stupidity? Be a Smarteen.
You can even be a Smartgrownup. It's never to late to make informed decisions about things.
I say go "Leslie Knope" and do a "pros and cons list."S3e11
::: The Establishment :::
Jack Webb as Sergeant Joe Friday
Harry Morgan as Officer Bill Gannon
Howard Culver as Robert Squire
Thomas Bellin as Al Bertino
Clark Howat as Captain Trembly
Alex Wilson as First Patrolman
::: The Kids :::
Heather Menzies as Ann Flynn
Russ Caldwell as Stanley Sorel
Judy Jenson as Martha
Wink Roberts as Bob
______ as "The Snakes Are Eating My Legs. Kill The Snakes"-man
______ as uncredited extras (help!)
*The Haunted Closet featured Smarteens! in 2010.
*Rather than anyone nodding and looking about, we are treated to cute anti-drug posters from 1967.
*In real life, Al Bertino is in this photograph, second from the right.
*Twice they mention "chromosome damage" - As I understand it, that's not a real thing.
*Mysterynet has this to say about the episode:
"Dragnet is remembered by many as a quaint, nostalgic glimpse at the way life used to be. One such episode is "Narcotics," in which the "Smarteen Club" is launched with the motto "SOS: Stamp Out Stupidity." The organization's goal is to work as hard reaching vulnerable youths as drug dealers do."
*There is an archival bit at NBC-Universal featuring the Smarteen program itself, but you can't watch it yet. "CS 1 - A young woman tells teenagers about a bad experience she had with hallucinatory drugs. She claims "you don't know what hell is until something like this is given to you." Teens look at display of anti-drug posters. S.O.S. ("Stamp Out Stupidity") bumper stickers are handed out. Police officer addresses teens. CS 2 - View from back of room as film is projected. Policeman says in interview that the natural curiosity of teenagers about drugs is coupled with a real social pressure from their peers. He says what the Smarteens program tries to do is apply converse social pressure and hit teens in the ego."
*I thought that The Onion A.V. Club had covered this episode somewhere along the line. Alas.
Despite it all, you have found it. Suzy Dragnet's least favorite episode of Dragnet. When I saw it as a kid, I thought, (in my Clinton-era youth) that it was unironic, but cloying and silly. What drug problem? But I didn't know the half of it. When a problem seems to be so out of hand that a TV show give it an episode, it might also be campy, historic, and even endearing.
Art Director - John E. Chilberg, II
Set Decor - John McCarthy & John Sturtevant
Costumes - Vincent Dee
Written by Burt Prelutsky
Aired 5 December 1968
Coffee and refreshments are to be served in the comments area,
Here is a nice piece by Burt Prelutsky about writing on the show from Badge 714. It's a wonderful piece. I hope you enjoy it.