Dragnet

Unmistakeable theme.
Unmistakeable voice.
Unmistakeable style.

Dragnet was such a bombshell -- "the true story of your police force in action" -- that it is hard to appreciate the original impact nearly 60 years after it first premiered (June 3, 1949 on NBC). Today, realistic police procedurals are the rule. In '49, shows like "Boston Blackie" or "Broadway's My Beat" were the norm, and while they certainly convey the flavor of the period in which they were produced, "realistic" is not a word you would apply. Dragnet was a different combination: from the "actual police files" that the Los Angeles Police Department provided as inspiration for the scripts, to the low key dialogue and underplayed line readings, to the hyper-realistic sound effects and Walter Schumann's phenomenal musical theme. Jack Webb truly created a new mature style for the radio drama.

It was so recognizably unique that it only took a few years before it was the stuff of spoofs by comedians like Stan Freburg.

Dragnet lasted on radio from 1949 to 1957, although the TV version took most of Webb's attention starting in 1952.

How much did Dragnet enter public consciousness? Even today, kids who've never heard nor seen the show, still recognize those opening "Dum-de-dum-dum" musical notes.