Dragnet —later syndicated as Badge 714 — is an American television series, based on the radio series of the same name, both created by their star, Jack Webb. Both shows take their name from the police term dragnet, which means a system of coordinated measures for apprehending criminals or suspects. Webb reprised his radio role of Los Angeles police detective Sergeant Joe Friday. Ben Alexander co-starred as Friday’s partner, Officer Frank Smith.
The ominous, four-note introduction to the brass and tympani theme music (titled “Danger Ahead”), composed by Walter Schumann, is instantly recognizable. It is derived from Miklós Rózsa’s score for the 1946 film version of The Killers.
During its early success on radio, Dragnet was popular enough to move to television. More important was that it brought continuity between the television and radio series, using the same script devices and many of the same actors.
Just before the show took its final commercial break, the show’s announcer would inform the audience of something related to the case, usually the opening date on which the perpetrator’s trial would take place in the Los Angeles County Superior Court (this would be accompanied by an onscreen card so the viewer could read along).
After the break the camera faded in for what was presumably the perpetrator’s mug shot, consisting of him/her standing uncomfortably against the wall, while the results of the trial were announced.
The perpetrator’s name and fate were then superimposed over the screen, specifically regarding in what prison he/she was incarcerated, or, in the case of perpetrators deemed unfit to stand trial, to what state facility he/she was committed.