But the whole show is being retooled now. See this CNN article about the changes:
| Made famous more than 50 years ago by Jack Webb and now played by Ed O'Neill, Friday no longer prowls the streets of Los Angeles with a lone sidekick. He's been promoted to lieutenant, in charge of a diverse group of junior detectives who seem to hang on his every word. |
Friday's upgrade to mentor of his own mod squad on what is now called "L.A. Dragnet" is one of many changes in the ABC series' evolving effort to survive.
When the second season premieres in a new time slot on Saturday, September 27 (10 p.m. ET), it will look markedly different from the retro-flavored "Dragnet" launched on Sunday nights last February to disappointing results.
There will be more women and more vistas of Los Angeles. Updated, less noir-like dialogue and more of a documentary shooting and editing style. Even subtle wardrobe changes -- gone are Friday's nerdy short-sleeved shirts.
There are also two new writers -- twin brothers Jonas and Josh Pate.
"We want it to be a current show, we don't want it to reference the old show in any wink, wink kind of way," says Josh Pate on a visit to the squad-room set.
So why, then, was the series moved to Saturday night, when younger, more hip viewers are out experiencing life and the lead-in show is "The Wonderful World of Disney"?
While admitting it's not an ideal time slot for a cop show trying to reinvent itself, Lloyd Braun, ABC entertainment chairman, has said the strategy is to "incubate" the show in a noncompetitive time period. If it becomes a self-starter, he says, then it may be moved to a more suitable slot later in the season.
To make that happen, says Pate, the series must "look forward more than it looks back."
But that doesn't mean the Pates don't have reverence for the series' top cop.
"The show is still centered on Friday," Pate assures. "We definitely want to ramp up the legend of Joe Friday and his kind of larger-than-life character as a famous cop ... get that sense across that he's an iconic character."
Last season, Friday and his then-partner, Frank Smith (Ethan Embry), were in virtually every scene, creating an excessive workload for the actors. "I mean they built the pyramids that way," the 57-year-old O'Neill chuckles.
With Embry gone, O'Neill's new detective co-stars are Desmond Harrington as Jimmy McCarron, Eva Longoria as Gloria Duran, Evan Parke as Raymond Cooper and Roselyn Sanchez as Elana Macias.
Although Friday's new position will keep him inside more than before, he'll join his team members in the field from time to time. But even when he's not around, Friday's presence will be felt by his traditional voice-over commentary.
Cooper is spiritual, a family man and a native Angeleno. McCarron, the youngest of the squad, originally from the Bronx, is hot-tempered. Pate says McCarron has a streak of vengeance toward the criminals, while Cooper is more concerned about justice for the victims.
"Friday has seen all these different kinds of cop attitudes before and knows how to manage them," says Pate.
Longoria says the reality of the series is greatly strengthened by the addition of a "more ethnic" cast.