April 22, 2013
This is the comic... Dragnet #4. It's not a very good one, but fortunately I'm here. I carry a badge.
(Open on shots of Shoreview, Minnesota, Linkara's hometown)
Linkara (v/o): (narrating in the style of Joe Friday from Dragnet) This is the city: Shoreview, Minnesota. It's a small town. At least, I presume it is. I don't actually know the borders, and I'm too lazy to look it up.
(A tall pine tree is shown)
Linkara (v/o): This is a tree in Shoreview. It has nothing to do with anything; I just thought it looked kind of pretty.
(A McDonald's is shown now)
Linkara (v/o): This is a McDonald's. I eat there a lot, which explains my weight. When bad comics need to be riffed and ripped apart, that's where I come in.
(Cut to a closeup of Linkara's hand, in which he holds a badge with the Power Rangers logo on it)
Linkara (v/o): I carry a badge.
(Cut to Linkara's room, where Pollo is seen wearing a tuxedo and sitting on the futon)
Linkara (v/o): It was Monday, April 22nd, at 10:01 AM. It was cold in Shoreview. I was working the day watch on the futon. The boss is Mike Michaud. My partner's name is Pollo. (camera pulls back to reveal Linkara wearing a suit) My name is Linkara. We had just gotten the word: a comic about the excellent TV series, Dragnet, existed. It was my job to find out if it was any good.
(A new intro is shown, in the style of the opening to Dragnet, showing Friday's police badge)
Linkara (v/o): (Dragnet narrator voice) The story you're about to see is true... in that there is a Dragnet comic and it's about to be reviewed. The names have been changed to protect the innocent, but we didn't work very hard on the new names.
(The title sequence plays, still in the style of Dragnet, showing the title Atop the Fourth Wall 2013 and the usual opening credits, followed by the title card for this episode. After the intro, Linkara sits in his usual spot, still wearing his suit)
Linkara (v/o): 10:02 AM: I greeted the audience.
Linakra: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. (points to screen) I friggin' love Dragnet!
(Footage of the TV show Dragnet (the later version from 1967) is shown)
Linkara (v/o): Admittedly, my love is focused on the 1967 series that ran for four seasons because that was the one I grew up watching. Thank God for syndication. The great thing about Dragnet, though, was that one series is very similar to another, aside from a few differences here and there.
(Cut to footage of the original Dragnet series that aired from 1951 to 1959)
Linkara (v/o): The show began as a radio drama in 1949, thanks to its creator and star, Jack Webb, playing the by-the-books, just-the-facts-ma'am detective, Joe Friday.
Linkara: Subsequently, (makes "finger quotes") "Just the facts, ma'am" is one of those phrases like "Play it again, Sam" or "Beam me up, Scotty" that people associate with a show or movie, but was never actually said.
Linakra (v/o): Jack Webb developed the series after being inspired by tales of police procedure and the day-to-day drudgery of police officers, and thought that it could make for compelling drama. As such, with the endorsement of the LAPD, he got real case files and adapted them into episodes. And of course, you have that phrase at the beginning: "The names have been changed to protect the innocent."
Linkara: Screw the guilty, though; (points to camera) we'll string them up real easy! (smiles evilly)
Linkara (v/o): The approach was great and was carried over into the 1951 TV series and its 1967 revival. Unlike a lot of TV series, both versions of the show ended not because of bad ratings, but because Jack Webb decided to move on to other projects. It really showed how much power he had with the series and just how tied in Jack Webb was with it. He was Joe Friday. I never saw the 1989 revival, but the 2003 one was made by Law and Order creator Dick Wolf, who wasn't a bad choice for it. However, Law and Order, in my mind, was already a spiritual successor to Dragnet, with its focus on the procedural elements and less on the personal lives of the detectives, which, of course, changed over time as the show progressed, but that's a different discussion. And Ed O'Neill as Joe Friday never really clicked with me. He didn't do a bad job, it's just it felt... off, not helped when, in an attempt to boost ratings, they changed it to more of a traditional police drama.
Linkara: It's hard to describe my love for this kind of thing, because it's pretty much what it says on the tin: a police procedural where the two main officers investigate a crime and solve it. It's very simple and entertaining, especially if it gave Joe Friday a chance to speechify.
(A montage of clips of Friday speechifying is shown, cutting from one episode to another)
Friday: (interrogating a suspect) Try to put that walnut-sized brain of yours to work on this. You keep harping about minorities?
Suspect: That's right.
Friday: Well, mister, you're a psycho, and they're a minority, too.
(Cut to another episode)
Friday: All at once, you lost your first name. You're a cop, a flatfoot, a bull, a dick, John Law, you're the fuzz, the heat, the poison, you're poison, you're bad news.
(Cut to another episode)
Friday: You may sell that jazz to another pothead, but not to somebody who spends most of their time holding some sick kid's head while he vomits and wretches, sitting on a curb stone at four o'clock in the morning.
Friday: I've dealt with you before, and every time I did, it took me a month to wash off the filth.
Friday: Underfed kids, beaten kids, molested kids, lost kids, crying kids, homeless kids, hit-and-run kids, broken-arm kids, broken-leg kids, broken-head kids, sick kids, dying kids, dead kids...
Friday: (to a hippie) So don't you con me with your mind-expansion slop. I deal with kids every day. I try to clean up the mess that people like you make out of them. I'm the expert here.
Friday: Let's talk poverty. Most places in the world, that's not a problem, it's a way of life. And rights? They're liable to give you a blank stare because they may not know what you're talking about.
Friday: (to another suspect) Do you have real adventure in your soul, Culver? You better have, 'cause you're gonna do time in a prowl car. Oh, it's gonna be a thrill a minute when you get in unknown trouble call and hit a backyard at two in the morning, never knowing who you'll meet: a kid with a knife, a pillhead with a gun, or two ex-cons with nothing to lose.
Friday: We took a little boy in the central receiving hospital yesterday. He was four years old. He weighs eight-and-a-half pounds. His parents just haven't bothered to feed him. Now give me a fast answer to that one. One that'll stop that from ever happening again.
Friday: Forty hours ago, you confessed what you did to that little girl. That was the truth. Now you sit here and tell us that you didn't understand your rights. That's a lie! Like every hoodlum since Cain and up through Capone, you've learned to hide behind some quirk in the law.
Linkara: Mind you, every incarnation of Dragnet has been a product of its time, so... (becomes nervous) occasionally, there's something in there that makes you wince.
(Another scene of the show is shown)
Capt. Lou Richey (Art Balinger): (to Friday and Bill Gannon) Even homosexuality is praiseworthy. How you gonna fight that?
Linkara: (laughs nervously) Oh, dear...
Linkara (v/o): I'd like to think if Jack Webb were alive today, he'd have changed his tune about that, but anyway, the point is, does this mean that there are Dragnet comics?
Linkara: Well... yes and no. While Jack Webb's other series, Adam-12, got itself a comic from our old pals at Gold Key, Dragnet never really got a comic book. What it did get was a newspaper comic strip.
(A shot of a Dragnet comic book is shown, from Australia)
Linkara (v/o): And unfortunately, I can't find a lot of information about it or what we have today: a comic that reprints the newspaper strips into a magazine format. I can tell you that this might be the first time on the show that we've reviewed an Australian comic, since the publisher, Invincible Press, operated out of Sydney and had its own stable of comics for several years. From what I've been able to glean, like the show, the strips were based on real cases and were either written by Jack Webb or they at least required his approval. The strips went through at least three different artists, apparently because they were having trouble finding someone who could get Jack Webb's likeness down.
(Linkara holds up the Dragnet comic book)
Linkara (v/o): (narrating like Friday) 10:07 AM: I dug into "Dragnet #4".
(Cut back to the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): The cover is cluttered, though I don't know how much I should hold it against the comic, since it's a bunch of reprints of newspaper strips. I don't think selling a reprint was too high a priority. It features some guy's head floating in the corner with a blank, emotionless expression on his face as he stares at Joe Friday's LAPD badge. It's possible that the face is supposed to be Joe Friday, but it doesn't look anything like him. There's also a teletype message near the center of the cover giving a few details who they're on the lookout for, the "who" being the people who are standing on a rooftop here, who I presume to be the cops looking down at who I again presume to be two gangsters. A good cover tells you a story all in one image. This one forces us to speculate because of the formula of how the show works. Then again, considering this is in comic book form, and that's a green car right there, it's possible Superman is about to lift that thing up and attack them all.
(The comic opens to the first page)
Linkara (v/o): The comic is made up of three storylines in the comic strip. We open with Joe Friday's narration.
Friday: (narrating) It was Thursday, July 16th. It was warm in the city.
Linkara: (as Friday) Due to the warmth, I was going commando in my suit. I did not regret the decision.
Friday: (narrating) We working General Assignment out of Hollywood Division. My partner is Frank Smith. The boss is Captain Bert Jones. My name's Friday.
Linkara: (as Friday) Born on a Monday.
Linkara (v/o): Joe and Frank are called out to the Hollywood area by a real estate agent. A furnished home he had rented out to two people has been completely cleaned out. One of them was a woman, a Mrs. Gates, who was an actress who mostly played extras in films, and we learn that they had also rented a room out to someone who has also disappeared at the same time they had.
Friday: (narrating) 4:30 PM. We put in a call to Hollywood casting service to see what information they had on Mrs. Gates.
Linkara: (as Friday) It's a good thing that Hollywood only has one casting agency in the entire town.
Friday: They've been trying to get in touch with her for three weeks about work. From what they say, she shoved off without a word about where she was going.
(Cut to a clip of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang watching Red Zone Cuba)
Mike and the Bots: You shove off!
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): The next two strips detail the police work, finding out that the renter's name was David Koster, that there were no missing person reports on them, and no outstanding warrants. Interviewing more people, they discover that the three were always getting into arguments with one another, and investigating the home again reveals that there's fresh gravel in the driveway. The neighbor points out to them that's strange since there wasn't a need for it to be resurfaced. So Joe and Frank begin the fun process of digging into the gravel to see if something's been hidden underneath it. Naturally, they don't seek permission from the real estate agent because, hey, it was the '50s. Miranda rights didn't even to be said at this point. Sometime later, they dig deep enough to discover the corpse of Mrs. Gates, though this does make me wonder how long this guy was digging up his own driveway without anybody noticing before he stashed the corpse here. The crime lab discovers the only evidence they can: a rubber glove, though personally, I suspect there's more evidence behind this guy's completely wasted speech balloon. Seriously, did the letterer read what was originally supposed to go there and just decided, "Nope, not gonna print it!" and forget to remove the rest?
Linkara: That's like if I started speaking a sentence, but I got cut off and the editor forgot to take out the video from the... (audio is cut off as he continues to speak)
Linkara (v/o): Four days go by without any leads, but then they get a tip that Mrs. Gates' daughter has been spotted running a carnival booth. When she refuses to talk to the cops, she aims a rifle at them, and Frank leaps over the counter to grab the gun away. Or at least, I presume he grabs the gun away; all we get is him awkwardly leaping like this. Maybe he just thought the booth was rigged. They suggest to her to bring her downtown and she says that'd be a good idea. Aaaand then they stay right where they are in the next strip. Also, no one brings up that she POINTED A GUN AT THEM!! Anyway, she explains that she lived with her mother in the place and her mother didn't get along with her boyfriend, the aforementioned David Koster. She reveals that she married Koster without her mother's knowledge, and as she's giving this explanation through the next several strips... we see her getting ready to leave and go down with them to the station? The hell?! She was really damn uncooperative when they first met her, and now she's talking a lot, even though she said they'd have to bring her downtown for that, except they stayed there for a good twenty minutes before they actually started to leave to go downtown for the information that she's already revealing to them!
(Cut to Phelous, who gives a double thumbs-up)
Phelous: Great continuity!
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Oh, and another speech bubble with only a single sentence and a lot of wasted space. I get the impression they didn't really plan out how much space they'd actually need for these things. Anyway, the woman explains that her mother was right and Koster turned out to be a real bum who walked out on her a few weeks ago. When they show her the rubber glove they found, they reveal that her mother is dead.
Woman: You say this was found in my mother's grave?
Linkara: (as Friday) Well, ma'am, you could call it a grave, but then, the headstone is a license plate.
Linkara (v/o): Oh, great, it's "Marville #3" all over again! They're printing the script along the side of the comic! Anyway, she reveals that Koster actually suffered from misophobia (pronounces it "MI-so-phobia")... Misophobia? (pronounces it "MEE-so-phobia") I don't know how to pronounce that. ...the fear of contamination and germs. Hence, the rubber glove. Hmm, a pity. I hear his casino was doing really well.
(Cut to a clip of an episode of The Simpsons, showing Mr. Burns addressing Smithers)
Mr. Burns: Nothing can stop me now! (suddenly looks around shiftily) ...Except microscopic germs. (grabs Smithers' arm) But we won't let that happen, will we, Smithers?
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): And naturally, a guy with that kind of fear works as a mechanic in a garage. Also, I just realized this, but Frank is actually in a bow-tie. Combine that with the overall suit, and basically, he's the Eleventh Doctor with a buzz cut. Anyway, she warns them that the guy has a real attitude problem about the cleanliness thing and got fired from several garages before, and they should be careful. He didn't like cops either.
Linkara: Police officers: the most germ-addled of professions.
Linkara (v/o): After putting out an APB and doing some legwork at a few garages, they track him down to a gas station. When they say that they're cops, he makes a run for it. Frank, despite his earlier acrobatic skills, gets knocked over by a display of what I think are soup cans.
Sign on display: Have You Tried Seventy Seven?
Linkara: Well, I don't normally keep track of how many soup cans I go through in a day, but I suspect I wouldn't get up that high.
(Linkara then sits, stroking his chin in thought)
Linkara (v/o): (narrating like Friday) 10:12 AM: We took a break for a commercial.
(We cut to black as we go to commercial. Upon return, Linkara is still seated)
Linkara (v/o): (narrating like Friday) 10:13 AM: We returned from the commercial – unless they were in a region where the commercials weren't playing, in which case it's still the previous time. Or unless the viewer is being a jerk and has an ad block enabled, robbing us of revenue from the advertisements. Either way, I think I'm going to stop giving accurate timestamps.
(The review resumes)
Linkara (v/o): Joe pursues him [Koster] into the garage where the dude starts swinging a gas pump at him, the force even knocking off his hat. Fortunately, gas pumps are no match for Joe Friday, and he lays him out with one punch... I think. It's kinda hard to tell, and the action is brief due to the nature of it being a comic strip. And thus, he's arrested, and the story ends with the revelation that he got tried and convicted for murder before being executed in the gas chamber.
Linkara: That's Dragnet for ya, (holds up index finger) all sunshine and roses with its endings! (nods)
Linkara (v/o): Our next story sees Joe and Frank working out of Auto Theft Division. Yeah, since Dragnet covered a wide variety of crimes, Joe was always working out of a different division every week. Continuity is very loose; he and his partner were meant to be everyman police officers, regardless of what division they were working.
Linkara: Or, since this is in comic form, we could just say that every division we look at is a different reboot of Joe Friday. My personal favorite Joe Friday is the Post Zero Hour one, where he was a cyborg.
Linkara (v/o): The case involves a man who was approached by a gang of thieves.
Man: Guy asked me if I wanted to make a fast buck. Told him yes and he sprang the deal I went along with him. But I want no part of it now.
Linkara: Punctuation marks only make things more difficult in our fast-paced world, don't you agree? That's a great tie you're wearing. Let's do lunch.
Linkara (v/o): Upon closer inspection, there is punctuation on these bits, but they're so tiny as to almost be invisible. I've mentioned before about comics in these days would have printing problems of not being able to see periods; hence why everyone spoke in exclamation marks. But usually, it ends up looking fine anyway. This, though? Yyyyeah, perhaps Joe should be investigating the case of the missing punctuation.
Man: He wanted to know if I could print up some phony car registrations. Y'know, pink slips?
Linkara: (confused) He wanted the cars fired?
Linkara (v/o): He says he's already made the plates, but he doesn't want to be involved. Because it's okay to break the law as long as you change your mind about it. Joe calls Frank, and they head over to a bowling alley to wait for the guy. They have the citizen deliver the plates, but then follow him to try to get to the larger operation. Unfortunately, they get into a traffic accident and lose him, but fortunately got his license plate down. Running the plate through the DMV, they find his address and name, including that he's already done time for grand theft auto before.
Linkara: (as Friday) Which means that he's already got a two-star rating. Ha! Let's see him try to get his car painted before we intercept him. (beat) Unless he uses that cheat code to summon a tank.
Linkara (v/o): Unfortunately, he's already moved out of the address, and they don't turn up any leads with his former friends and associates. However, a man reports that he suspects that he bought a stolen car, and they confirm that the registration is one of the fakes. Since the guy paid with a cashier's check, they manage to pick him up from a bank, but he refuses to talk at first. Aaaand then a few days, the guy calls them and says he wants to spill the beans.
Linkara: Gotta love how they hold the tension so effectively and throw us all these (shakes hand around) twists and turns.
Linkara (v/o): He talks about the operation, but doesn't know who it is that's in charge. He gives the address to a garage they're operating out of, and they proceed to break into the place through a window. I think the legality of that is a little suspect, but whatever. 1950s – We'll pretend that search warrants hadn't been invented yet, either. They find the stolen car and an old guy who demands that they leave and that their boss will be pissed about their presence. Instead, they just arrest him and put a stakeout on the place, finding a guy who had been at the bowling alley and arresting him. But he's still not the boss. They find the guy who's listed as the owner of the garage, track him down... and... subsequently find him in Desert City, smoking a cigar at a bar. And then they arrest him... without the audience ever hearing him utter a single word.
Linkara: Wow! That story was so thrilling that I almost mumbled in my sleep.
Linkara (v/o): Our final tale brings us to the Narcotics Division.
Friday: (narrating) A young thief had robbed and beaten a citizen while he was under the influence of narcotics. We had to check it out.
Linkara: Hmm, someone young and taking drugs. Well, I'd call Joe Friday in when the New Teen Titans were investigating drugs, so... might as well return the favor.
(A clip of the Teen Titans anti-drug PSA is shown, with Linkara dubbing over all the footage)
Young man: (to a basketball player) Hey, Phil, I have heart medication.
Raven: (appearing) Poof!
Cyborg: (smashing through a brick wall) OH, YEAH! Hey, kids, don't take heart medication, 'cause that's a drug.
Raven: (waving her cape) I am the spawn of Satan and so can you.
Kid Flash: Okay, guys, now the YMCA pose!
(The Titans raises their arms in the air. Cut to a message reading: "Teen Titan Hero Declaration: STAY DRUG FREE")
Linkara: Yeah, that short seems to have been produced, but either never aired or no one has a copy with the audio, because the video footage is, well, all we've got of that. So, uh, yeah, drugs.
Linkara (v/o): I hope this has hippies in it. Dragnet was always fun when it had hippies.
(Cut to a clip of a Dragnet, where Friday and Bill Gannon are frisking Blue Boy Carver)
Blue Boy: (to Friday) Reality, man, reality! I could see the center of the earth! Purple flame down there with a pilot light!
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, they picked up a kid who beat up a drug store owner, but now the kid is going through withdrawal and wants to confess.
Friday: Can you tell us anything about where you've been getting the "H"?
Linkara: (as kid) Well, I got my first "H" from a hologram's forehead...
Linkara (v/o): He gives them the info, but warns them that they'd better take it easy. If the drug dealers realized that they're cops, they'll kill them.
Friday: (narrating) 4:30 PM. We talked with Captain Carl Shy. It was decided that our best chance of breaking up the narcotics ring would be for me to go underground.
Linkara: (as Friday) I wasn't sure exactly how dressing up like a groundhog would help, but anything for the department.
Linkara (v/o): They find the spot where the drugs are being peddled, and Joe immediately finds the pusher.
Pusher: What kind of business did you have in mind?
Friday: Thought maybe I could make a connection for some Mary.
Linkara: Mary? (scoffs) That doesn't sound like a drug name. Joe, tell him you're after some China Cat.
Linkara (v/o): He makes a deal and buys some marijuana, signaling his backup to arrest the guy. However, Joe makes sure to get instructions on how to get someone higher up.
Pusher: Just ask for Jimmie Hendricks.
Linkara: (mock surprise) Jimi Hendrix associated with drug use? (slaps himself on the forehead) What a twist!
Linkara (v/o): Actually, this does make me wonder if the comic strip was altered in some way or if it's just a colossal coincidence. The newspaper strip ended in 1955. Jimi Hendrix would have been thirteen years old. Anyway, Joe runs into Evil Von Mustache* here and arranges another sale, even getting him to admit that they're bringing in a shipment of heroin that night. After digging up some more info on Evil Von Mustache, they put out an APB on the guy and Joe goes back to the place where they first met, in the hopes of picking him up. Unfortunately, it seems Evil Von Mustache is onto him, but then it's revealed that the guy thinks that Joe was actually buying for another town. Also, he has a giant forehead. I never knew that Sinestro was into the drug trade. Joe is brought to the big boss, who isn't fooled by him and pulls a gun. However, in a much better action scene than before, Joe manages to disarm the guy and knock him on his ass as the rest of the cops arrive. Unfortunately, they can't find the drugs, but then Evil Von Mustache decides to betray his boss for really no reason and show them where the drugs are. They pull out a toolbox and reveal that the heroin is rolled up in the sandpaper while his stash of marijuana is in the seats of his car.
- NOTE: Acutally, Evil Von Mustache's name is Henry McLain.
Boss: You'd never have gotten me if it hadn't been for him.
Linkara: (as the boss) I would've gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for you nosy drug pushers normally under my command!
Boss: That's where I made the mistake.
Friday: You made it before then.
Friday: You shoulda learned to use these the right way.
(Dragnet theme plays briefly)
Linkara (v/o): Erm, actually, wait, I don't get it. You should have figured out how to use a wrench the right way? What? The hell does that have to do with drugs?
(Cut to a shot of Friday's badge from the show's title is shown again, along with text that Linkara reads)
Linkara (v/o): (Dragnet narrator voice) The comic you have just seen is true. (following words not displayed) So fill in that bubble on your worksheet. (resumes reading) The names were changed to protect the innocent. (next following words also not displayed) Those poor, innocent drug dealers.
(More text pops up)
Linkara (v/o): (Dragnet narrator voice) On April 22nd, a comic review was made concerning Dragnet #4. In a moment, the results of that review.
Linkara: (holding up comic, still speaking in Dragnet narrator voice) This comic sucks and was sentenced to being thrown on the futon after I explained why.
Linkara (v/o): (normal) Admittedly, the last story is actually pretty good, with excellent artwork and some good, tension-filled moments for Joe. The action was halfway decent in the one strip that did it, but the other two stories? Yeah, not so much. To be perfectly honest, I don't really think Dragnet worked well in comic strip form, unless you had a decent artist backing you up like the third story did. The first story is just kind of bland and the action is subpar, highlighting the sheer tedium of police work, while the second story feels like it just comes to an abrupt stop. And sure, Dragnet would have anti-climactic endings sometimes, but the episodes themselves would still be good enough to hold your interest for the full time, bolstered by either the charismatic acting of the officers or at least the occasional goofiness of some of the people they ran across. But here, even the good story has problems with sequential storytelling, particularly having trouble remembering where the previous comic left off. At the end of one strip, Joe talks to a guy while looking for Jimmie Hendricks and the guy wants to know why he's looking. But then in the next strip, some other random guy comes up to him while ignoring what happened before. Action doesn't really work very well in this format, either. There's just not a lot of space to make it work, unless you're really talented at it, and even then, because this was a daily comic strip, it's easy to forget details or keep up the excitement of an action scene when you have 24 hours between the start of the action and the end of it. It's more effective here, when all the strips have been collected into a comic book, but as a daily strip, it's a lot more difficult. Again, I'm not saying it's impossible, and I can name a few comic strips that have done it well, but here, it was not executed as well as it could have.
Linkara: But hey, despite it not being a very good comic, it was still worth a read, if only for seeing Joe Friday be awesome, if a bit nonsensical when it comes to wrenches and drugs. (points to camera) And that's just the facts. (throws down comic, gets up and leaves)
(End credits roll, to the end credits music for Dragnet)
Unfortunately, like so many others, can't really keep the full theme here for ContentID, but I love to show off the bizarrely triumphant, happy Dragnet end credits music.
Not that it matters much. It was just a recreation of Dragnet's end credits but with my show's details and me saying I liked the 1987 Dragnet movie's spoof stuff.