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Dragnet on Radio

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Dragnet on Radio

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Dragnet on Radio
60 Old-Time Radio Broadcasts
From Radio Spirits, (2001)
ISBN: 1-57019-386-X
20 audio cassettes - 30 hours of play time
Genre: Mystery - Police Detective / Procedural

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - December 13, 2001

Dragnet is a perennial television favorite, but what many people do not realize is that Dragnet had its beginning on the radio. The first Dragnet show aired on June 3, 1949 on NBC Radio. And, like the television shows and movies that followed, Dragnet on radio stared Jack Webb as Sergeant Joe Friday. Even after Dragnet made its televison debut in December 1951, the show remained so popular that the radio broadcast continued through 1957.

During the run of the Dragnet on Radio, Sergeant Joe Friday had a variety of partners. His first partner was Ben Romero played by Barton Yarborough. After Yarborough's death in 1951, Friday's received a new partner, Ed Jacobs, played by Barney Phillips. After Jacobs, Friday's was partnered with Officer Frank Smith who was played by a string of actors including Harry Bartell, Herb Ellis, Vic Perrin and Ben Alexander. Alexander took over the role of Frank Smith in 1952, and retained this role for the remainder to the radio run of the show. Alexander also played Officer Frank Smith on the Dragnet Television series. Officer Bill Gannon, played by Harry Morgan, did not become Friday's partner until 1967.

This collection of Dragnet on Radio's shows includes 60 episodes from the 1952-1954 seasons, and it comes in a sturdy collector's case. All of the episodes in this collection feature Ben Alexander as Officer Frank Smith, Sergeant Joe Friday's erstwhile partner. These shows are contained on 20 audio cassettes and offer 30 hours of listening enjoyment. Interestingly, all of the cases presented on Dragnet were based upon real cases, drawn from the files of the Los Angles Police Department (L.A.P.D.). Besides being a remarkable police drama, these shows always presented the L.A.P.D. in an honorable and respected light. In addition, the shows in this collection are united by the fact that all of the show's titles begin with the word - Big. A sampling of the titles contained in this collection includes such shows as: Big Jolt, Big Eavesdrop, Big Smoke, Big False Make, Big Bop, Big Steal, and Big Filth.

Dragnet was, and remains, a popular show. Whether you are an old time Dragnet fan or a Dragnet Newbie, you will be delighted with this collection. In part the show's popularity is due to the realistic nature of the stories presented, but also because these shows featured an outstanding cast. Beside Jack Webb, these shows also featured such respected actors as Raymond Burr, Charles McGraw, Herb Butterfield, Bill Johnstone, Peggy Webber, Art Gilmore, Julie London, Jack Kruschen, Herb Vigran, Stacy Harris, Lee Marvin, Helen Kleeb and Sam Edwards.

This outstanding collection of old-time, Dragnet on Radio is greatly enhanced by the inclusion of a 64-page booklet detailing the history of the Dragnet show. Written by Anthony Tollin, this booklet not only looks at the history of Dragnet. It also offers a brief biography of Jack Webb, and it contains a complete catalogue of all the shows contained in this collection. For each episode, this registry includes information on when the show originally aired, its titles, a list of production staff members, and the shows stars. Each listing also includes a brief synopsis of the show, and offers interesting tidbits about the show itself, the actors who played in that particular show, as well as some insiders information. This booklet is filled with vintage photos of some of the prime actors in this series.

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