Dragnet to the past

You know how you get bored and so start flicking. I don’t mean flicking bogies. Flicking around the TV channels.

I had a flicking session and happened upon a very old 1950s black and white episode of Dragnet. This is an old cop show with no budget. There seemed to be a set with an office, a corridor, and an interview room. Nothing else.

Anyway, this story I came in on included a car chase and then a running on foot to capture the villain.

However, all you see is the main detective cops standing in their office listening to the police radio, and plotting the course of the chase on a large map on the wall, every time a car was reporting in what was happening.  There are no visuals of the chase itself, the cars or the villain in question.  Nothing but the office is shown.

To add to the tension and suspense, they had to start sweating and loosen their ties. As they were waiting to establish if a chase on foot had grabbed the ‘perp’ the camera focusses on their faces and worried brows whilst the suspense violin played a strange suspense noise.

Then after what seemed like an eternity, the radio cracks into life to report, “Suspect now in custody. Repeat. Suspect now in custody.”

So, all in the room with the map leap up and congratulate each other and do the cheering and whooping thing. Then they relax and walk off into the corridor, arms patting each other’s backs as if it was they that chased and apprehended the murderer.

It’s amazing to think that at the time Dragnet was a very popular TV series and people would have been watching in stunned silence fully accepting that the car chase had no pictures, possibly completely unaware of the concept of there ever being pictures of car chases, and probably sweating as ferociously as the characters they were watching.

These days we take so much for granted. I didn’t know whether to roll around the floor laughing or to take a moment of reflection. I mean, maybe we’ve come a long way, but back in those days all people actually needed was the power of suggestion and description to get completely excited. These days we seem to need millions of Dollars worth of special effects.