26 February 2009
February 26, 1957: Last episode of Dragnet radio series which had started in 1949 written by and starring Jack Webb. This overlapped the Dragnet TV Series which ran from 1951 to 1959 and then was brought back 1967 through 1970 and in rerun as Badge 714. The arresting theme music began to play ("Dum-de-dum-dum") to herald what became what was probably the most successful police drama in television history.
So why is this important to me? As a small child, my bedtime was theoretically 7:30 pm. Since I was almost always blessed with my own room, own bed and somewhat complacent adults, this meant me with radio, flashlight, and book under the covers until at least 10:00. It was the thrill of imagination fed by written and spoken words with the books and radio scripts creating movies of the mind. This was the world of Dragnet, Green Hornet, and Inner Sanctum as well as all the books from my shelves.
To this day, I tend to divide books into daylight and flashlight classes. Flashlight Worthy is a book with a voice so strong and filled with images that it is capable of painting a CinemaScope, 3D, stereophonic blockbuster on the underside of sheets even if I'm now reading it comfortably ensconced in an easy chair.
Today's children are force fed images almost from birth and I'm not sure it is good for them. Are they losing the ability to make their own pictures using only the spoken or written word? If you can't see the pictures when you read, how do you get transported to another place and time?
If you want to get a feel for these radio shows, you can listen or download many of them at Old Time Radio. There is also a direct link to the Dragnet shows at the top of this post. Are you around any young readers? Are they seeing the pictures? Maybe they need some practice with a radio and a flashlight.
For pure fun, here is the classic "Copper Clappers" routine between Jack Webb and Johnny Carson.