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1950's Dragnet DVD question


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#1 of 13 DSmith1984

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Posted November 30 2011 - 04:11 AM

If this has been brought up before, I apologize up front. Anyway I have two questions. 1. Does anyone have a master list of all the 1950's Dragnet episodes that have been released to DVD? I've seen at least a dozen different DVD sets all claiming to have most of the available episodes but I don't want to buy before I know what all is out there. 2. Kind of a two part question. Firstly, who owns the rights to the show and why has there been no season releases or at the very least, any substantial high quality releases(that I'm aware of anyway)? Do all of the original shows even still exist?

#2 of 13 Neil Brock

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Posted November 30 2011 - 06:45 AM

[quote name="DSmith1984" url="/t/316600/1950s-dragnet-dvd-question#post_3875253" 2. Kind of a two part question. Firstly, who owns the rights to the show and why has there been no season releases or at the very least, any substantial high quality releases(that I'm aware of anyway)? Do all of the original shows even still exist?[/quote] Don't know about your first question but I can tackle this one. Universal owns the show as they bought it from Jack Webb in the 60s when they decided to produce the color revival series. Why nothing has ever been done with it requires a multi-part answer. First problem is the copyright issue. The first 100 shows fell into public domain. The next 100 are copyrighted. Then the rest of the episodes, some are and some aren't renewed. As to a release, you know Universal isn't going to do anything with a show from the 50s so another company would have to license it out. There aren't any tape elements since the show has sat on the shelf for over 45 years. Who knows if there is even a full set of 16s anywhere. As to whether they all exist, unknown, although Universal likely has the 35mm negatives in their vaults somewhere.

#3 of 13 Jack P

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Posted November 30 2011 - 06:58 AM

Universal I think took one 35mm episode out of the vault for a TV Land showing once. But you're right, the biggest stumbling block is that the show disappeared too early from syndication for there to be as many good 16mm prints out there for a release on the order of "M Squad" or something like that. Another show from the 50s in the "Dragnet" mold that I wish could make it to DVD is the San Francisco based "The Lineup" which also disappeared from syndication long ago (though I have a boot set of episodes that aired on a SF station in the 80s). If anything, "The Lineup" with its location shooting tended to work better on TV than I felt "Dragnet" did in the 50s (which IMO was a superior radio show in the 50s than a TV show)

#4 of 13 Neil Brock

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Posted October 25 2013 - 08:54 AM

Here's a little more detailed info on the 1950s Dragnet that I saw posted in a 16mm forum:

 

The original 1950s DRAGNET is only partially in Public Domain Hell, but an official release is unlikely at this point.

In December 1953, MCA purchased the DRAGNET property from Jack Webb, for a cool $5 million, which Webb had to split between himself and two partners: Mike Meshekoff and Stanley Meyer (they each got 25% and Webb got 50%). In 1962, MCA acquired Universal, so that is how Universal came to own DRAGNET.

Universal - as I've been told - deliberately allowed the first 100 episodes, which were produced PRIOR to MCA's purchase of the property, to lapse into public domain. They were (nearly) all based on radio scripts, and the radio versions were floating around on tapes among Old Time Radio hobbyists. Copyrights on the following 98 episodes, produced between 1954-57, were renewed. In the fall of '57, NBC renewed DRAGNET for another two seasons, so Webb produced 78 more episodes within 9 months (Aug '57 - May '58). Of these, Uni renewed copyrights on 7, the other 71 lapsed into p.d.

So, this is Uni's problem: they really AREN'T sure what they own, even among the episodes they renewed. There are music issues; the same music shows up on radio as on TV. Same problem with the scripts. (By comparison, only 2 episodes of the color DRAGNET are based on old scripts, and the music is all new.)

 



#5 of 13 JoeDoakes

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Posted October 25 2013 - 09:15 PM

If anyone is interested in Dragnet, they should really try to check out Michael Hayde's book My Name's Friday, which tells the complete Jack Webb story with lots and lots on Dragnet.  Also, check out those radio episodes, there are a couple hundred of them and They're GREAT!


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#6 of 13 Silverking

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Posted October 26 2013 - 06:55 AM

To the best of my knowledge there are 62 episodes of Dragnet that have appeared on PD releases including video. Some are harder to find than others ( in bold) just to confuse it some companies have  incorrect titles or made up ones.If anyone can add to it , I am happy to be corrected.

Here's the list -

 

Season 1                                Season 2                      Season 3                     Season 4                  Season 5

The Human Bomb               Big Jump                     Big Betty                     The Big Producer     Big No Rain

Big Actor                              Big Sorrow                  Big Will                        Big Fraud                 Big Lift

Big Mother                           Big Seventeen              Big Thief                     Big Crime                 Big Gap

Big Cast                                22.Rifle for Christmas   Big Little Jesus            Big Pair                    Big Look

Big September Man              Big Grandma                Big Trunk                     Big Bar                     Big Glasses

Big Phone Call                      Big Show                      Big Boys                      Big Present              Big Bird

Big Casing                             Big Hate                       Big Ham                      Big New Year           Big Bounce

Big Lamp                               Big Break                     Big Winchester            Big Rod                    Big Deal

                                              Big Frank                     Big Shoplift                  Big Family                Big Wish

                                              Big Light                     Big Hit & Run Killer     Big TV

                                              Big Lease                    Big  Girl                        Big Tar Baby

                                              Big Hands                   Big Frame                    Big Number

                                              Big Barette                  Big Threat

                                              Big Dance                   Big False Make

 

Season 6                              Season  7                      Season 8

 

Big Net                                 The Big War                  The Big Oskar

Big Switch                                                                  The Big Counterfeit

 

Also, 1 episode from S5 'Big Smoke' appears on one of the box sets of the colour episodes released by Shout.

 

I don't think there is a PD release with all the episodes though you may find some enterprising individual on Ebay may have put them all together.


Edited by Silverking, October 26 2013 - 08:02 AM.

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#7 of 13 Neil Brock

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Posted October 26 2013 - 09:15 AM

Obviously, to someone who is a huge fan of the show, having fewer than 25% of the run would be insufficient. But, for the rest of us, I would think that having a decent enough sized sampler, plus almost the full run of radio shows, should be enough. Of the 373 radio shows that are out there, don't you get a high portion of the TV shows out of that as well? Having watched a few of the black and whites, they seem to be not much more than televised radio anyway. What I mean is that there doesn't seem to be that much going on that is enhanced all that much by video.



#8 of 13 Jack P

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Posted October 26 2013 - 10:20 AM

Most of the early seasons are recycled from the radio scripts.   In later seasons, mostly in response to viewer mail, Webb did shake up part of the production aspects by dropping the more monotone delivery in the scripts and then in the final season you had the gimmick of Friday being promoted to Lieutenant (which was purposefully forgotten when the show was revived in the late 60s;  Webb remembered it only as a gimmick that hadn't worked and considered it more authentic for Friday to be a sergeant).

 

I do agree that the shows adapted from radio scripts in the early seasons which are available on PD video don't play as well mostly because Webb's obsession with the tight close-ups I think cramps the storytelling compared to how on radio you could envision a broader canvas. 



#9 of 13 Peter M Fitzgerald

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Posted May 14 2014 - 08:02 PM

Any opinions on what the overall best DVD collection of public domain Dragnet episodes out there is? I know they're all sourced from rather rough-looking 16mm prints, but are any better than others in terms of minimal splices, no substituted music and/or video compression? The 25-episode Dragnet tin from Madacy, maybe? Does any other collection trump that one?


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#10 of 13 Silverking

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Posted May 15 2014 - 07:09 AM

As they all copy each others output there is no real difference Peter  Madacy are near the bottom of the PD releasing outfits, with a tendency for dodgy discs.

 

You may as well go on EBay & find some enterprising dealer who has copied all the available episodes.



#11 of 13 DeWilson

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Posted May 18 2014 - 07:15 PM

As they all copy each others output there is no real difference Peter  Madacy are near the bottom of the PD releasing outfits, with a tendency for dodgy discs.

 

You may as well go on EBay & find some enterprising dealer who has copied all the available episodes.

 

There's also the pd indie guys like Shokus Video and Moviecraft (who still doesn't do DVD, just VHS!) who transferred from 16mm, and most likely have has their transfers copied by the low-budget guys. 



#12 of 13 Regulus

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Posted May 19 2014 - 07:18 AM

To the best of my knowledge there are 62 episodes of Dragnet that have appeared on PD releases including video. Some are harder to find than others ( in bold) just to confuse it some companies have  incorrect titles or made up ones.If anyone can add to it , I am happy to be corrected.

Here's the list -

 

Season 1                                Season 2                      Season 3                     Season 4                  Season 5

The Human Bomb               Big Jump                     Big Betty                     The Big Producer     Big No Rain

Big Actor                              Big Sorrow                  Big Will                        Big Fraud                 Big Lift

Big Mother                           Big Seventeen              Big Thief                     Big Crime                 Big Gap

Big Cast                                22.Rifle for Christmas   Big Little Jesus            Big Pair                    Big Look

Big September Man              Big Grandma                Big Trunk                     Big Bar                     Big Glasses

Big Phone Call                      Big Show                      Big Boys                      Big Present              Big Bird

Big Casing                             Big Hate                       Big Ham                      Big New Year           Big Bounce

Big Lamp                               Big Break                     Big Winchester            Big Rod                    Big Deal

                                              Big Frank                     Big Shoplift                  Big Family                Big Wish

                                              Big Light                     Big Hit & Run Killer     Big TV

                                              Big Lease                    Big  Girl                        Big Tar Baby

                                              Big Hands                   Big Frame                    Big Number

                                              Big Barette                  Big Threat

                                              Big Dance                   Big False Make

 

Season 6                              Season  7                      Season 8

 

Big Net                                 The Big War                  The Big Oskar

Big Switch                                                                  The Big Counterfeit

 

Also, 1 episode from S5 'Big Smoke' appears on one of the box sets of the colour episodes released by Shout.

 

I don't think there is a PD release with all the episodes though you may find some enterprising individual on Ebay may have put them all together.

 

I found one on one of those "Trading Sites" (I don't remember who, but he or she had ALL of these titles on their set. Now I'm going to have to make a new label for this set because the old one has a combination Confederate Flag with a "Scull and Cross Bones" logo on it!


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#13 of 13 oldtvshowbuff

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Posted May 19 2014 - 03:59 PM

Obviously, to someone who is a huge fan of the show, having fewer than 25% of the run would be insufficient. But, for the rest of us, I would think that having a decent enough sized sampler, plus almost the full run of radio shows, should be enough. Of the 373 radio shows that are out there, don't you get a high portion of the TV shows out of that as well? Having watched a few of the black and whites, they seem to be not much more than televised radio anyway. What I mean is that there doesn't seem to be that much going on that is enhanced all that much by video.

I think the same could be said for some of those Gunsmoke half-hours, but they were more superb than those early seasons of Dragnet IMHO.




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