Picks and Pans Review: Dragnet
Things ain't what they used to be. When Dragnet was on NBC in the 1950s and '60s, the announcer opened with "The story you are about to see is true." But here's the wishy-washy wording in ABC's revival of the classic cop show, premiering Feb. 2: "The story you are about to see is inspired by actual events." Will Joe Friday, who used to insist on "just the facts," now settle for "an acceptable approximation of accuracy"?
Okay, executive producer Dick Wolf's new Dragnet isn't all that bad. Though still best known for Married...with Children, Ed O'Neill did solid police work two years ago on the short-lived Big Apple, and he's well cast here as a tough, terse, old-fashioned detective who's not without humor. I dare say the Friday of yesteryear, Jack Webb, would approve of the way his successor stares a hole into a pretentious film student and puts down a porky slimeball in skimpy swimwear.
O'Neill handles himself a lot like Jerry Orbach on Wolf's Law & Order, and that's as much a problem as a compliment. A half century after Dragnet first hit the air, there's nothing in this version that hasn't been done better on other series. Friday and partner Frank Smith (Ethan Embry) crack a lurid, gory murder case in the first episode, but you can get that sort of thing any week on CSI. The two work in L.A.'s Robbery Homicide Division, but didn't CBS recently cancel a more stylish police drama by that name? I hear the Dragnet theme—"dum-dee-dum-dum"—and I can't help thinking "been-there-done-that."
BOTTOM LINE: Just routine, ma'am
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