September 11th belongs to mindless cult followers and devil worshippers on MonsterVision 1999. First up, we have the 1987 version of Dragnet with Christopher Plummer and Dabney Coleman as an unholy Holy man in league with a porno magazine publisher, secretly planning to use his followers to destroy Los Angeles. Then William Shatner finds himself surrounded by Devil worshippers in The Devil's Rain. But more on that later.
"Dragnet" stars Dan Aykroyd (who also co-scripted, with director Tom Mankiewics), with Tom Hanks as his goofball partner, and Harry Morgan of the original 1970s TV series (and 1969 Dragnet movie), as their boss. Also stars Elizabeth Ashley, Alexandra Paul, Kathleen Freeman, Jack O'Halloran, and of course, that unforgetable Dragnet theme
106 minutes, rated PG-13. Join us as we kick off the new season of MonsterVision on TNT!
We now join professor Joe Bob Briggs, already in progress:
Dragnet host segments
You know, I think my favorite line in the movie is when Dan Aykroyd describes his Yugo as "the cutting-edge of Serbo-Croatian technology." At any rate, that's the lovely Alexandra Paul as the virgin Connie, better known as Stephanie on "Baywatch." Yummy, yum, yum. She's also the only Baywatch Babe to ever actually compete in the Iron Man Triathlon, and I guess it'd be the Iron Woman Triathlon in her case - that thing over in Hawaii where you swim 94 miles, and then you ride a bike 1200 miles, and then you run 87 miles, and stand on your head, and whoever gets out of surgery first wins, you know? She actually did that!
[knock on door] What? Oh, what are you doing standing out there? Rusty: Well, I know there's some kind of new "arrangement."
JB: What new arrangement? I'm just renting a house here in L.A.
JB: You're ... what?
Rusty: You're renting this house? [plush Hollywood livingroom]
JB: Yeah! Why?
Rusty: Maybe I should start delivering your mail care of [looks at envelopes in mailbox], let's see, who's name is on this electric bill...and this water bill...and this Brooks Brothers bill...Miss Kim Verona!
JB: Friend of mine, OK?!
Rusty: Didn't she do some movies?
JB: What've you got for me, huh? Just give me my mail.
Rusty: [looking around room] This is great! OK [hands Joe Bob his letter]. This letter comes from Neil Collins of Akron, Ohio.
JB: Dear Joe Bob Briggs:
I want to thank you for showcasing more zombie movies on TNT. I have evidence proving that this country has a serious prejudice toward zombies. It's not simply the abject stupidity of the living humans that offends us, it's the way that their reasoning offers aid and comfort to the new breed of living bigots, the one that tells us that living people are the true victims of the affirmative zombie action laws.
You have probably heard the rhetoric; "victimized by the zombie's need to feed on the living," "victimized by the zombie's hunger for brains." Heck, you have to find a dozen grown humans anymore just to get one good brain dinner! There are valid reasons for disliking zombies. We don't usually look well-groomed, although that is the fashion these days; we don't wash our hands before we eat; we are accused of never participating in politics - however, the politics claim is a misnomer, we actually have one very powerful figure in the White House at this writing (Al Gore). That individual will soon be a victim of certain starvation since the White House has never been a good source of our main diet, gray matter.
Respectfully zombotifized, Neil Collins Akron, Ohio
JB: You know, Neil, I gotta disagree with you
Rusty: Oh, I gotta hear this
JB: I think zombies are bigger than ever. Check out that movie from last summer, The Mummy. What did you see in that movie? Alright, they called them mummies, but THEY WERE ZOMBIES! Hundreds and hundreds of employed zombies. So quit your belly-aching, Neil. Assuming you have a belly.
Rusty:That was so mature. Normally, I have to find an elementary school playground to hear an exchange like that.
JB: You don't like this new neighborhood, do you? She's just a landlady.
[sultry mature woman's voice] Joe Bob...
Rusty: Sound's like your rent's due.
JB: Back to the movie. Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks in Dragnet.
Rusty: Or maybe she's got a problem with her... plumbing "Dragnet" Break #1
Awww, Friday’s SO devoted to his Grandma. Actually, when the Dragnet series first ran on TV in the early 50’s, Friday lived with his mother, and he had no life, he was married to the Force. He had an occasional date, but it was obviously going nowhere. But his partner, Sgt. Ben Romero, had a family and kids – he lived for his family. Sargent Romero was played by Barton Yarborough, who had done the same role on the radio series. But he died after just three of the TV episodes. So the rest of the first season was played by Barney Phillips and Herb Ellis, and then starting the second season it was Ben Alexander as Officer Frank Smith (1953-59), and that’s the Jack Webb sidekick that most people remember today – well, most people over a certain age, remember that guy today from the 50’s series. "Dragnet" Break #2
Dan Aykroyd was obviously a fan of the series because he co-wrote the screenplay and he incorporated most of the stuff from the series into this movie. And he is a stickler for detail, maybe because he did study criminology for four years at Carlton University in Ottawa. So all those penal code numbers and infraction numbers are totally accurate. Every time Dan talks about a 325 or a 4968, it’s right on the money. One thing he forgot though, is that Jack Webb was always smoking. Chesterfields. Which also happened to be the sponsor of the series back in the 50s. Liggit Myers Tobacco Company. I’m a big fan of the Dragnet TV-series, so I gotta get all this stuff in real quick.
For example, the voice-over announcer who says, “The story you are about to see is true...” Anybody know who that is? George Fenneman [Groucho’s “You Bet Your Life” sidekick/announcer 1950-61]. Although in the 60s they changed to Hal Gidney. Alright, who recorded the (1953) 45-rpm recording of the Dragnet themesong? Real title of the song is “Danger Ahead.” Ray Anthony & His Orchestra, written by Walter Schumann. Most famous Dragnet episode of all time: “Blue Boy,” the one where Friday and Gannon are investigating the use of LSD among hippie teenagers. [monotone] “You’re pretty high and far-out. What kind of kick are you on, son?”
And this is the best part. Jack Webb, besides being the producer of other hit shows like “Adam-12”, “Emergency”, and “Project UFO”, was the first guy to use the Tele-Prompter. Stanley Myer invented the Tele-Prompter, and the first place it was ever used was on Dragnet. When they have those tight close-ups and they’re rattling off all that information about the case, they’re reading that directly off the screen. OK, let’s boogie.
[fading] Did you see “Sunset Boulevard” (1950)? Remember Marty Greene, the confidant of William Holden? Played by – Jack Webb. The man was everywhere!
[voice upstairs] Joe Bob?
JB: You know what, though? Let’s not talk about “Sunset Boulevard.” "Dragnet" Break #3
The bad guy [in this movie] they call Amul Muzz, that’s Jack O’Halloran, former pro-boxer out of Boston. Heavyweight, I guess. Looks like a heavyweight.
You know what modern cop show is the most like Dragnet? Dragnet was the first cop show to try to show how mundane police work was. That’s why this movie’s a little off in spirit; Jack Webb would not have liked this movie. But the modern equivalent of the original 1949 Dragnet is “Law & Order,” they show the day-to-day drudgery and they don’t talk about their personal lives except on very rare occasions.
[woman’s voice upstairs] Joe Bob... ?
JB: You know what? I’m going for a walk now, and I’ll talk to ya again after the movie.
[woman’s voice] And I’ll talk to you after the movie, Joe Bob.
JB: I’ve read about stuff like this. OK. Enjoy the conclusion of “Dragnet” and don’t forget “The Devil’s Rain,” our regular MonsterVision feature, coming up after this.
[woman’s voice] Don’t let Muffin out.
JB: Muffin is fine.
[woman’s voice] Joe Bob, don’t forget your fuzzy shirt. It’s cold in the canyon. Fuzzy wuzzy . . .
Real news item: 3 men were arrested in November, 2007, when they took a computer printer back to a Target store for refund. Inside, employees found a real $20 bill and in the print drawer were three copies of it printed out. A deputy who made the arrest said, "People get wrapped up in the crime, and they forget things."