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Jul 6, 2004 4:01 pm


Jack Webb is Cool



Jack Webb is most often remembered as the uptight, law and order cop in"Dragnet," so effectively satirized by Dan Akroyd in the 1980s.

For this reason, I had to do a double take when I first heard"Pat Novak for Hire," a radio show from the 1940s. The lead character, played by Webb, is a cynical and rather amoral detective on the San Francisco waterfront. His nemesis is a corrupt cop, Inspector Hellman, and his best friend is a dissipate bar room philosopher. The dialogue is hyper-Chandleresque. You can get the general idea by imagining a thoroughly jaded Joe Friday hyped up on speed (or perhaps after several cups of coffee laced with Mountain Dew).

After hearing Jack Webb as Novak comment on the world around him, I found it hard to believe that the same man ended up hectoring hapless hippie stereotypes in the 1960s on the evils of pot. The shows are inexpensive to order and a lot of fun.

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