Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Based on the classic Jack Webb cop series of the 1950s and '60s, Dragnet was the second latter-day revival of the property to boast a new cast and grittier edge (the first non-Webb revival was the obscure syndicated Dragnet seen in 1989). On this occasion, Ed O'Neill starred as Sgt. Joe Friday, LAPD, with Ethan Embry as his partner, Bill Gannon. The fact that Friday was then the older and more experienced of the two partners (not the case in the orginal Dragnet, wherein silent movie veteran Ben Alexander was seen as Frank Smith) was but one of the many deviations from the property's traditional formula. Another was the emphasis on crimes involving sex, decadence, and drugs -- and this time, there were none of the legendary "Joe Friday Lectures" involving narcotics abuse. Finally, this Joe Friday was capable of emotional outbursts and was far more prone to resort to strong-arm methods when dealing with perpetrators (most of whom, admittedly, deserved such treatment). Still, many of the familiar Dragnet trappings were still in evidence, including the "Names have been changed to protect the innocent" opening disclaimer, the terse dialogue, the voice-over narration, the "Just one more thing" fade-out speeches, and the ironic responses to shaky alibis. Executive-produced by Dick Wolf of Law & Order fame, this newest incarnation of Dragnet debuted February 2, 2003.