Dragnet (radio series)

Dragnet, the documented drama of an actual crime. For the next thirty minutes, in cooperation with the Los Angels police department, you will travel step-by-step on the side of the law. through an actual case from official police files. From beginning to end, from crime to punishment, Dragnet is the story of your police force in action…

(I’ve been listening to Dragnet at archive.org; you can also find it on YouTube.)

See, I work in a data processing-type field–no need to talk to anyone, just lots of entry, arithmetic and account cleanup. So everyone has headphones and listens to whatever all day.

I used to listen to music. Eventually I got sick of it; the stuff I knew I’d heard too much, but I wasn’t having a lot of luck reaching into the unfamiliar. I tried podcasts for a while, and still have a few I like–but it’s hard to find new ones. TV is hard to watch and not listen to. I tried nature noises, and it just didn’t take. Didn’t have enough of a budget for audiobooks to keep up with what I needed.

But! Dragnet has years and years of content, apparently out of copyright (??) It’s a radio show, so I don’t miss anything by not watching. And… well, not to put the finest point on it, it’s *really really good*.

Seriously. You tend to think of radio shows as cheesy, but this one’s even understated–a by-the-books police drama that puts an emphasis on the day-to-day gruntwork that gets things done. If there’s a dramatic shootout, you know that they were only even able to corner the guy due to weeks of following up on every lead, most of them coming to nothing. Criminals are dumb or smart–witnesses are helpful or not–but it all comes across as the real movements of fairly regular people, give or take a proclivity for beating women’s heads in with bricks.

But even that’s only half of what I like about it.

My husband asked me a few weeks ago, “There’s so many police dramas, and–why do the cops ALWAYS have to be corrupt?”

And that was an exaggeration, but there are an awful lot of them. And Dragnet seems like a fantastic rebuttal to all of them. Joe Friday is the quintessential Good Cop, no matter what department he’s in or what crime he’s solving this time. He’s always doing the absolute best he can, sometimes to extremes that are nearly comical (taking weeks walking a suspect into *every flophouse and rental* in a ten-block radius so that we can discover his home base and find all the jewels he stole–with the suspect complaining that he’s going to get a lawyer and have their jobs the entire time.) But always doing the job, just doing the job.

It’s one of the themes I like best in fiction. Bad things happen, and evil people exist. But there are also good men trying to hold back the tide.

I’m glad I met Joe Friday, even if it’s been half a century since he’s been on the radio. Think the world can use him, even now.
(And did I mention this show *really holds up*? Yes, police procedure isn’t the same–I’m a little startled by some of the things they can get away with sometimes–but I’m hard-pressed to think of another way in which it doesn’t stack up fantastically to much of anything produced today.)
And today’s ballpoint pen sketch–it’s been a while since I did many sketch-selfies, let’s see how it works.

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