Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Jack Lord is my Shepherd and I shall not want, but Jack Webb is my God (sorry, Clapton)

There are some benefits to being sick as a dog (no, Michael, I mean 'like a dog' - get outta here with that car battery and waterboard and back down to the Novacare Complex where you belong, they'll be no electrods to the gonads here today).

Where were we? Benefits, yes. Week day television is a big one.

In particular, Hawaii Five-O and Dragnet.

Oh sure, I have them on DVD and can always pop them in. And yeah, I can go to hulu or any number of places on the web and catch them there. But that somehow feels a little less 'genuine' than catching it 'by chance' as I channel surf.

So, on to H50 and Dragnet and, more specifically, Steve McGarrett and Joe Friday.

Men of honor, of integrity. Of staccato, monotoned procedural coptalk perfected. Of RIGHT and WRONG and BLACK and WHITE and LEGAL and ILLEGAL. No shades of gray need apply here.

Each with a very particular, very sharp stick jammed all the way up his ass to where if you look really closely you can see the tip jutting from the back of his throat when he talks. When the sticks were inserted at a very young age they must have severed the nerves around their funny bones, rendering them impervious to humor or irony.

They constitute members of a rare breed, a dying breed, alive only perhaps on channel 69 at 3pm on a Wednesday. They lived, ate and breathed black and white, even when filmed in living color, with iron clad rules as stiff as the pole up their backside.

Steve-o and Joe would just as soon drop the hammer on their best friend or family as they would their worst enemy if their com padre crossed the letter of the law. Hell, McGarrett let his sister's infant child die rather than refuse to testify against a quack doctor for a charge that carried a maximum of a thousand lousy bucks fine or one year in jail. He cried over it (in I think his only show of emotion in the series), but he did it nonetheless.

Lt. McGarrett and Sgt. Friday were both at their most entertaining when confronted with their polar opposite, an antagonist bursting to full with emotion, color, and anarchy.

Dragnet's Blue Boy is a prime example.

As is the Hawaii Five-O's Wo Fat.

And I got to 'enjoy' them both this week.

While it may be true that The Jack Lord is my Shepherd ...

... Jack Webb is my God (just ask him)

Sure, he was only a Sargent. And yes, he and his partner got booted around to a new department every week, probably 'cause none of the department Captains could handle someone of his unyielding principles square-jawed honesty more than a few times a month. He was Serpico before Serpico and without the filthy, commie hippie trappings - a decent haircut, jacket, white shirt and tie was good enough for his father so it damn well is good enough for him. And his hard work has paid off with a new Dragnet stamp!

"It was Tuesday, it was Warm in Los Angeles, we were working the day shift out of Homicide. The Captain's name is [Insert this week's Captain here], my Partner's Bill Gannon, my name's Friday. It's summertime and with the season, the crowds are out at the parks, beaches and streets. Most of the time it's peaceful and people get along, sometimes when they don't, someone crosses the line. That's when I go to work. I carry a badge. Dum de dum dum."

When I hear that, I get a chill. Justice is served on ice. Monotone only, no voice inflection need apply.

You'll notice I have "My Partner's Bill Gannon" and not "Frank Smith" in the excerpt above. That means, I'm a 60s Dragnet man, though I like the 50s variety too.

But the 50s was too easy, too conservative, too much like Friday himself.

The 60s brought hippies and psychedelics and hard rock and Black Panthers and riots and war protesters. They brought Blue Boy.

McGarrett had "'Book'em Danno". Friday countered with "That's weed, Bill". Followed by quick shots of he and Gannon nodding furiously. Okay, that wasn't exactly his catch phrase, but when he did say it, well - you knew he was onto something.

Let the sparks fly!

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