Saturday, December 5, 2009

Blast from TV Christmas Past, Part 2

Dragnet -- The Big Little Jesus

Original Airdate -- December 24, 1953

--"The Old Mission Church -- They've Had a Theft."
--"Collection Money?"
--"Statue of the Child Jesus."


So starts what is clearly a slow day in the Los Angeles Precinct for Detectives Joe Friday and Frank Gannon. I won't say anything further about the plot, but I will say the rat-a-tat dialogue Dragnet was known for makes this half-hour both a laugh riot and a stubbornly touching reminder of the true meaning of Christmas.

This is done without any of the typical trappings of TV Christmas episodes -- no tree-trimming mishaps, no shopping frenzies, no Gift of the Magi or Christmas Carol knockoffs.

They seriously do not make 'em like this anymore. Just check out the framing of the scene between Friday and Father Rojas where he gets "just the facts" (see above and below):

Can you imagine any prime-time network show (say, Law & Order) shooting a scene like this today?

I would point out all the great lines and little touches, but I don't want to ruin it.

But I will say hang in there till the end and take a good look at the Baby Jesus after he turns up (spoiler I know, but was there any doubt?)...anyway, right after the Extended Holy Family curtain call (backed by heavenly choir), notice how BIG that baby is in relation to the rest of the made Dianne and I nostalgic for Baby Aaron (the Giant Baby).

This episode was remade in color for Dragnet 1967, but I think this version works better with the film-noirish look. And even better -- this version must be in the Public Domain, because you can watch it for free here:

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