19 May 2003 | bwaynef
Dragnet Out West
In the fall of 1972, NBC moved its successful Wednesday night Mystery Movie series consisting of "Columbo," "McCloud," and "McMillan and Wife" to Sunday nights and added a fourth show, "Hec Ramsey," while turning the original slot over to three new mysteries ("Banacek," "Madigan," and "Cool Million"). "Hec Ramsey" was a product of Jack Webb's then prolific production company. The series, which ran for two seasons (a total of ten 90 minute to 2 hour episodes) was superficially a western, but it was set in the waning days of the wild west when science was beginning to play a more significant role in crime solving than gunplay.
Richard Boone was more Sherlock Holmes than Matt Dillon, and the magnificent actor's always fascinating personality, presence, and uncouth manner kept the show interesting and watchable. No doubt Boone's influence also ensured that this would be the one Jack Webb series that could not be immediately identified as having originated with the creator of "Dragnet." The moralizing speeches and the staccato dialogue found in "Adam-12" and other Mark VII productions was kept on a short leash here. The only reminder that Webb was behind the scenes came from Harry Morgan who was not only Webb's partner on the revived "Dragnet" of the late 60's, but also turned up briefly alongside Robert Conrad in Webb's short-lived "The D.A." in the 1971-72 season.
Boone's clashes with Universal ultimately killed the show, but it was the only addition to the original "Columbo-McCloud-McMillan" trio to live more than one season (unless one counts "Quincy" which was spun off into a weekly hour after briefly joining the Mystery Movie in its last season).