My Favorite 1960s Dragnet #25: Burglary DR-31

Joe Friday and Bill Gannon are investigating a series of movie memorabilia thefts. A pretty routine show until they catch up with the perpetrator and then a human drama is played out that is incredibly surprising, particularly if people take a stereotypical view of Dragnet.

One of Dragnet’s greatest attributes is its ability to find a place for real human emotions. It’s a realistic show, and in the real world people don’t act like they do on a typical mystery show.  On Dragnet, it’s not only the police that act like real life, it’s the people. This can be seen going back to the days of the Dragnet radio show and through each television incarnation. A person would come in view and from what they say we’d learn their hurts and their fears, and their anxiety. And because they come off as real human beings, they connect with us as people.

Dragnet did a great job portraying the hardened criminal, the arrogant murderer, and the stone cold evil sociopath. But it also brought us up close and personal to the pain of an old man whose old friend was just murdered, a childless woman who is deeply hurt when rumors spread that she’s behind a series of babies thefts, or to a family whose son had relapsed back onto drugs, or the lost soul driven to crime by deep-seated personal pain. This episode is a great example of that tradition, and one of the highlights of Season 3.

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