Dragnet: The LSD Story

Oh, where do I even start with this? How about the facts?

  1. Joe Friday and Bill Gannon are out to stop a “a powerful new drug” that causes “weird and dangerous hallucinations” from ruining the youth of Los Angeles.
  2. They get a report of about a teenager “painted up like an Indian” [sic] and “chewing the bark off a tree.” !! CHEWING THE BARK OFF A TREE. Now you might be getting the mental image of someone eating bark. That’s not what’s happening. This dude is chewing on a tree. Like taking a big bite out of an Oak.

    Mmmm smells like enlightenment
  3. Friday and Gannon find the bark chewer, also known as “Blue Boy,” with his head buried in some dirt. In his pocket, they find some sugar cubes. Bill Gannon holds them in his sweaty hand for so long (in multiple scenes) that I’m kind of surprised he’s not tripping too.
  4. Today I learned that LSD can be found not only in liquid form, but also in powder form. Dragnet: an educational tool.
  5. “In every case so far, everyone of the individuals has had a psychological dependence on it,” according to the Dragnet medical examiner on the addictive nature of LSD.
  6. They call Blue Boy’s parents in to the station and they don’t really care: “You act like he was taking heroin or smoking marijuana,” his dad says before threatening legal action and throwing his money around.
  7. But this is 1967 and so Friday and Gannon hold Blue Boy on “section 601 of the welfare and institution code: in danger of leading an idle, dissolute, or immoral life.”
  8. Louisa from The Sound of Music buys LSD from Blue Boy and she seems totally fine to talk to the police except that she pukes and can’t read (the words are “swimmy”). But actually, if the guy from my intro to Social Work class who spent a large amount of a Saturday evening puking in the dorm kitchen back in 2009 is any anecdotal evidence, then this nausea thing is the real deal.
    Before LSD

    After LSD
  9. “Three bucks a cap. When it drops to 50 cents, the kids at grammar school will have a big time at recess, won’t they?” Hm, somehow I don’t see that ever being a thing of concern but all of the Dragnet cops nodded gravely when Bill Gannon made this announcement.
  10. While trying to track down Blue Boy, Friday and Gannon end up at an Acid Party in a run down house in the Hollywood Hills. There’s one lady climbing the walls and one dude eating paint. And one woman who actually just seems pissed off and not high at all, but apparently she’s also on acid. I watched this episode with my mom and found it gravely concerning that this man was most likely eating lead-based paint. She said something like, “people didn’t worry about things like that but people on acid sure did eat some weird stuff.” But I watched a lot of Bob Vila with my dad growing up, and I know that pre-1980 paint is a big no-no.
  11. Blue Boy dies at the end of this episode. So I think we’re supposed to associate LSD with death, which like okay fine. But he actually died of a barbiturate overdose. I’m pretty confident that they shared props with Valley of the Dolls on this one because I know I’ve seen those red no. 5 capsules before.
    Very Special Lesson
    : Guys, seriously. Don’t eat paint, especially not paint that was manufacture before 1980.

5 thoughts on “Dragnet: The LSD Story

  1. I love Dragnet. There’s an over-the-air channel around here that plays all those shows from the 50s through the 70s in day-long marathons, and Dragnet is one of the few shows I can actually just sit around watching for twelve hours at a time. One of those so bad it’s good situations, I think.

    1. Yes! I actually thought about doing a whole segment on Dragnet…but I really feel like they’ve already done my work for me. It’s just SO melodramatically moralistic and funny by accident. But I do love watching it!

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