Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Did Jack Webb Hate Children?

I am like the Jehovah's Witness of Adam-12.

I am constantly spreading the word about Adam-12, telling everyone I know what a great show it is, how much I love it, and trying to convince everyone that they should watch it. Sometimes it works and I can persuade someone to watch at least a few episodes.  

I recently convinced one of my friends to give the show a try. After watching the first 2 episodes my newest convert asked me if the creator of the show hated children. I can understand why she would think that since Baby Gladys almost dies in episode 1 and those two boys in episode 2 get very sick after getting into their mother's stash of narcotics. I responded to her question by telling her that I thought Jack Webb was just trying to show the viewers that police officers not only arrested people but also helped people. But now, after watching the first seven episodes in more detail I am beginning to wonder if maybe she was on to something. Almost every episode features at least one child in some sort of life-threatening danger.

In case you don't remember:

Baby Gladys almost died in episode 1. Malloy saved her.

In episode 2, this boy...

and his brother got sick after getting into their mother's stash. 

This baby was held hostage by a madman with a gun in episode 3. Malloy saved this baby, too.

In episode 4 Malloy found the missing Mark Bussey in the basement watching his pet cat give birth. Mark was fine, but his mother did say she was going to kill him.

Malloy is happy because no children were in danger during episode 5.

In episode 6 baby Hannah was thrown from her mother's car when it crashed.

In episode 7 Reed had to perform CPR on Cissy after she fell in the pool
 In spite of all this evidence, I don't believe that Jack Webb hated children. After all, he did not write all of these episodes and I've never read anything about Jack suggesting that he hated children. Does this look like a man who hated children? I don't think so.

See you next time! KMA-367


  1. BTW - I put up my last post for the Jack Webb blogathon hosted by Hannibal 8:
    Today's the last day, but it would be great if you would submit a post for Adam-12.
    It's pretty nifty!
    Suzy Dragnet

  2. Remember, while this was a Jack Webb production, the line producer was R. A. Cinader. I suspect Cinader's involvement did a lot to mitigate Jack Webb's tougher edges.

    Now, if you want to know who I'm convinced Jack Webb did hate, I'll tell you: Academics. We don't see much of this in Adam 12, but have you ever noticed that we never see Joe Friday have an account with a college professor where either Joe, in a speech, or the script itself doesn't disparage their profession, their intelligence, their ethics, and the scientific method? Friday contemptuously sweeps aside years of science and study, and tells one of America's leading sociologists studying the effects of drugs, "You're not the expert here, I am."

    No, Joe, you've got anecdotal data. He's got years of clinical studies. He's the expert.

    1. Ouch! I usually point to how much he hated pot and nazis.

      The episodes of Dragnet I have seen with professorial types have been stereotyped as bad as the 'hippie' characters. Let's not forget the episode with the mean college professor that tries to kick Joe out of night school for busting one of the other students for pot possession.

      Still, it's things like that which keep us commenting about it to each other all these years later.

      Suzy Dragnet

  3. No, Webb didn't hate kids. His daughters both remembered him as a strict, sometimes sarcastic and insensitive, but loving father. Webb was raised by his mother and grandmother, mostly in poverty - and his mother at least was an alcoholic. (And maybe an abusive one - if you watch DRAGNET from the '50s to the '70s, you'll note that almost nothing lights Joe Friday into a rage like child abuse or molestation.)

    In ADAM-12's case, at least in the early seasons, I think it's more an extension of Webb's impression of police work - expressed to Kent McCord (a/k/a Kent McWhirter) in the DRAGNET 67 episode "The Big Interrogation":

    "And the heartbreak: Lost kids. Crying kids. Homeless kids. Broken-arm kids. Broken-leg kids. Broken-head kids. Sick kids. Dying kids. DEAD kids. The old people nobody wants - the reliefers, the pensioners, the ones who walk the streets cold...and those who tried to keep warm and died in a three-dollar room with an unvented gas heater. You'll walk your beat and try to pick up the pieces."

    (I didn't edit the bits about old folks...because if you'll notice, they turn up a fair bit in ADAM-12's first few series as well.)