Dragnet: Old Time Radio - 379 Episodes

  • by Frank Burt, James E. Moser, John Robinson
  • Narrated by Jack Webb, Barton Yarborough, Ben Alexander, Raymond Burr
  • 137 hrs and 54 mins
  • Radio/TV Program

Publisher's Summary

Dragnet was perhaps the most famous and influential police procedural drama in media history. The series gave millions of audience members a feel for the boredom and drudgery, as well as the danger and heroism, of real-life police work.
Actor and producer Jack Webb's aims in Dragnet were for realism and unpretentious acting. He achieved both goals, and Dragnet remains a key influence on subsequent police dramas in many media. The show's cultural impact is such that even after five decades, elements of Dragnet are known to those who have never seen or heard the program - including the famous four-note introduction to the theme music and the opening narration, "Ladies and gentlemen: the story you are about to hear is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent."
The original Dragnet starring Jack Webb as Sgt. Friday ran from from June 3, 1949, to February 26, 1957 on NBC radio. Webb insisted on realism in every aspect of the show. The dialogue was clipped, understated and sparse, influenced by the hardboiled school of crime fiction. Scripts were fast moving but didn’t seem rushed. Every aspect of police work was chronicled, step by step: From patrols and paperwork, to crime scene investigation, lab work and questioning witnesses or suspects. The detectives' personal lives were mentioned but rarely took center stage. "Underplaying is still acting", Webb told Time. "We try to make it as real as a guy pouring a cup of coffee."


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

With all of the crime that is happening now, people should see that there was just as much crime 60 years. I'd recommend this to friends who are always complaining about "the good old days" and "these kids today". The mindset is the same among criminals - only the amount of firepower has changed. "Dragnet" is the father of all crime shows today, especially the in depth technical ones which involve forensics and DNA and also shows like "Law & Order" that used real crimes taken from newspaper reports or police files. Jack Webb was an innovator who created this genre of television.

Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

That question is not applicable here.

Did the narrators do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

This is a multi-performer audiobook with different actors playing each role. That gives the listening experience a rare layered effect.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

IMPOSSIBLE! It's 16 Parts of 6 to 8 hours in each Part. But, say, I had nothing to do for a whole month, like I'm stuck in a hospital bed because I broke every bone in my body - I'd have to say that no one would WANT to listen to these episodes in one sitting or even one day. It's basically the same format over and over again - crotchety old landladies, snoopy neighbors, arrogant criminals, mouthy teens, precocious toddlers, each repeating the same dialogue from one story to the other. The "stage business" - walking, stirring coffee, typing, opening doors, balling up paper, etc. - gets irritating after a while. It worked 60 years ago because listeners wanted to get as much bang for their buck in the 30 minute show time. However, listening to Sgt. Friday "walking" on a hard floor for the first 100 episodes, it becomes a bit old to have to hear it for 260 more shows.

Any additional comments?

Overall I enjoyed this "book" which is actually recordings of old radio shows, even with the snaps, crackles and pops. That's what gives it the dated feeling. However, the original recording was poorly done with no levels adjusted from one season to another, much less episodes. I had to give up the ghost when "the needle got stuck", playing several parts over and over again. In the old days, we'd just lift up the record player arm or put a coin on it to hold it in the groove. Here it is apparent that the engineer wasn't paying attention during the production and that Audible did no quality control afterwards.

NOTE: A highlight of these old shows is the advertisements. To hear the manufacturers of Fatima ("The Long Cigarette") and Chesterfields ("The Mild Cigarette") insist that smoking is healthy for you and that THEIR product is the very best is both funny and sad. Fatima goes on and on about how smokers switching to Fatima has increased by 500% since its last "report". If you've lost a loved one to lung cancer, this will be hard for you to take. But that was the way it was back then. People lit up a cigarette for any reason, even in a hospital bed!

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- Linda Lou "OCD over books, listening to 1 a day; ANY genre, fact & fiction. Influenced by Audible reviewers so I keep mine unbiased - FRONT to BLACK!"

The Grandfather of Law and Order

What made the experience of listening to Dragnet: Old Time Radio - 380 Episodes the most enjoyable?

The entire experience of a radio show, combined with the culture of the 40s and 50s is absolutely fantastic (although there I times when I keep thinking how much faster cases could have been solved with DNA evidence and other modern forensics!).

What did you like best about this story?

Dragnet is the grandfather of ever cop show that has ever been on tv - to say it is a classic is an understatement.

Have you listened to any of the narrators’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I watched Dragnet on tv ages ago, and while the tv show was good fun, all the sound effects and 'atmosphere' of a radio show make the radio show superior.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I like the tribute at the end of each episode to a fallen police officer - officers that were killed in the line of duty 50+ years ago are memorialized again.

Any additional comments?

There is a fair amount of variability in sound/audio quality (which is why I only gave the performance 4 stars - the actual performance is great, but the occasional audio issues made me downgrade it), but it generally doesn't take away from the listening experience.

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- Kindle Customer "lizski"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-12-2013
  • Publisher: BN Publishing