Synopsis by Hal Erickson
In one of the most famous Dragnet episodes of all time, Joe Friday (Jack Webb) and Frank Smith (Ben Alexander) investigate the theft of a statue of the Baby Jesus from a Catholic church, just before the first Christmas Mass. Father Rojas (Harry Bartell) explains that the doors of the church are always left unlocked; when Joe asks if the doors are open for thieves, the priest replies gently, "Especially thieves." Following the slimmest of leads, the two detectives haul in a suspicious derelict (James Griffith), but he turns out to be innocent. Only at the very end of the story do we learn the identity--and the touchingly honorable motives--of the youthful "thief". The first Dragnet episode filmed in color (Technicolor, no less!), "The Big Little Jesus" was initially heard on December 22, 1953 as a radio broadcast, which was actually the soundtrack of the televised version (this soundtrack was later released commercially as an LP record by RCA Victor). The episode was refilmed as "The Christmas Story", which aired December 21, 1967 as part of NBC's "new" Dragnet series.