Review: My Name’s Friday

My Name’s Friday is an enjoyable romp through the world of Jack Webb. From his days portraying hardboiled radio detectives Pat Novak and Johnny Madero to Hollywood Success, Failure, and a big comeback, Friday takes us through the highlights and lowlights of Webb’s life.

Michael J. Hayde comes to the book with a great deal of respect for Webb and his work, which is an essential element in a work such as this. Hayde’s work first and foremost is a Webb fan book. He gives a synopsis of each of Webb’s movies and then provides a critique of them. While appreciating Webb’s contributions, Hayde spares no criticism of the late 1950s Dragnet episodes, Pete Kelly’s Blues, and other less than successful Webb projects. While I don’t agree with all of Hayde’s criticism (I loved the “Night School” episode and he didn’t), his criticisms are reasoned and measured rather than spiteful. Whatever criticism Hayde has for Webb is mild compared to the well-deserved critique he slams down on the 1987 Dragnet movie with Dan Akroyd.

If there was one criticism I’d had of Hayde’s book, it was where he went from TV fan to armchair psychologist, buying Webb’s statements that he didn’t miss having a father around as a youth. I actually after reading the book and of Webb’s difficulty letting himself act believably on screen particularly in romantic scenes, as well as history of broken marriages might not have been influenced by never having a father around. Kind of off-topic from the subject of the book, I know. However, if one is going to engage in psychology, it shouldn’t be done haphazardly.

Still, the book is incredible fun as a fan resource and provides a rare glimpse at a radio and TV genius that’s been typecast as a stiff clown. Read it to recapture a vital part of America’s television history.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

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