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Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

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A Dragnet Christmas -- boy gets .22 rifle


Here's Jack Webb's downbeat Christmas present to "Dragnet" viewers, and the original radio version of ".22 Rifle for Christmas." This is a wonderful example of how the writers in the early days of television treated TV like radio with pictures. Take one of "The Lone Ranger" episodes and just listen to the audio. It's really a radio show.
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Comments (2)

'Dragnet' always was a radio show with pictures. Jack Webb, and the show itself, came out of the medium. He even preferred radio actors for the TV show. The dialogue was printed on cue cards. Radio actors could give a cold reading easily. The spareness of the original TV show, and its pace all came from radio training. Unfortunately Webb's politics came out of Chief Parker's need to present a clean-cut, incorruptible image as propaganda to counteract the reality. As Webb got older, he became stiffer. Perhaps the stiffness was a way to keep the lie he perpetrated at bay. Even the copious amounts of alcohol he increasingly consumed couldn't loosen him in the end.

"Dragnet" and "Gunsmoke" were two excellent television series that were even better in their original radio versions.


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