Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Scrounger’s Cheapjack Christmas Special! #6: Dragnet (part 2)

There’s one other Dragnet Christmas show which--since I started out by going in order--should've been on the menu immediately after “The Big Little Jesus”, but since I'm saving that one for Very Special Post #200, we hopscotch over it for a moment and jump ahead to New Year’s Eve. Don’t give me that look…New Year’s is TOO a holiday. Just because you’re expected at work after a night of getting smashed in the dead of night doesn’t make it any less so!

The New Year’s Episode: “The Big New Year”. Original Broadcast: November 11, 1954.

Joe and Frank are working with Frank McCready out of Homicide Division on New Year’s Eve, so already you know we’re in trouble. The switchboard is lit up, and so are the guests.

Officer Extra McDayplayer is lucky they didn't have vuvuzelas back then.

The jollity at the top of the show is just a deceptive lull before the hammer drops; just so you know what kind of story to really expect, a woman is hustled by shouting “He threw the bottle right at me!” And to underline the moment, Walter Schumann’s music sting is a menacing minor key “Auld Lang Syne”.

The guys are making small talk while manning the phones, when suddenly a call comes in over the radio: officer down. Suddenly everybody’s in motion.

Officer Floyd Hopper took four bullets to the base of the skull and one more in the back for good measure. Joe, Frank, and—sometimes—Officer Other Guy interview a few witnesses, then shake down an uncooperative bartender who doesn’t like what cops do for his business. Joe and Frank also get the unfortunate but necessary task of telling Hopper’s wife…in the middle of the New Year’s party to which Floyd had invited them, just to twist the knife. And once it sinks in and Mrs. Hopper falls back into the chair, the music in the other room hit’s Auld Lang’s Syne. I surrender, Jack Webb.

The bartender finally coughs up the name of a “hophead” named Harry Talmadge and the place where he might (or might not) be found. Halftime score: the might came up as a “might not”. Commercial break.

The short version: this is a more typical Dragnet story that just happens to have a seasonal backdrop, and for that reason it’s a better barometer as to whether or not you’d like to chase down the rest of the series. Since we only see what Joe and Frank see, a lot of action is implied rather than actually shown, but not everybody’s going to view that as a bad thing.

I will say this about our suspect: when Joe and Frank finally catch up with him, this is Harry Talmadge.

Now seriously, doesn’t he look a little bit bit beefy for a heroin addict?

Spot ‘Em: At one point, Joe and Frank interview one of Talmadge’s former connections, and the guy just leapt at me for some reason.

The clothes really make the man pop, but the name in the credits are what made me jump: Aaron Spelling. Yep, the same one...the eyes give it away. Take a gook at him. Now look at Talmadge again. Now tell me which one looks like he's strung out on the junk.

Reminder That You Only Paid $5 For This Set: At first, I thought the reason the picture wasn’t sitting still in the gate was because of how well-worn the film was, but at 8 minutes, ANALOG TAPE ROLL OUTTA NOWHERE!

Come on guys!

Our Holiday Lesson For Today: If you shoot a cop for New Year’s, you’re going away for a long time. But if you just decide to get wasted instead, you can blow your stupid little horn in the patrolman’s face until he takes you to the drunk tank!

The confetti over the shoulder is a nice touch. I wonder if that was the actor's idea or Webb’s.

Not finding this one on the Interwebs either. No episode video for you. Instead, here's Stan Freberg and Daws Butler doing their note-perfect sendup of the show.

Next: For our 200th post (this time for real): The other Dragnet Christmas show. And oh boy, do I have an opinion on that one...

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