Crime has always fascinated the American television watching audience. Some have theorized that this is because crime and violence have been a part of our national identity since settlers first placed their feet on the shores of North America (slavery, Indian massacre, witch trials, the Wild West, prohibition, drug wars, gangs, etc.) But, also the ideas of fairness, justice, and law are also very strong components on the American identity, and thus shows about police doing their jobs and catching the bad guys has been a staple of television since it was invented.

Drag Net
Drag Net is possibly the most influential of all crime-oriented television shows, and for good reason. It first began as a radio program in the late ‘40’s, and then was adapted for television in the fifties, later on it was re-adapted for television in the sixties and seventies as well. It was then revived in the eighties again, and then once more in the early 2000’s, but none of the revisions were as popular as the original series, which told the story of Los Angeles police detective Sergeant Joe Friday, who was played by Jack Webb (who also wrote some of the episodes and created the whole idea for the series.) Many of the stories for the tv episodes were ripped directly from the headlines of the newspapers in Los Angeles, but they were- of course- cleaned up for the relatively mild-mannered television viewing audience at the time. One of the most enduring things that the television program started was its use of jumbled, police jargon, which captured the attention of the American public (i.e. APB, for All Points Bulletin, or M.O. for Modus Operandi.) Pretty much every television show that has followed Drag Net borrowed something from it, at least if the show is a police procedural.

Cops
Cops were the pioneer of what is now known as “reality television.” Not only that, but it is one of the longest continuously running TV shows in history- as it has been on the air, via Fox, for more than 25 years now. The show follows real-life cops around as they are on duty in cities- both big and small- all around the country. Everything from the theme song of the show to its most common clichés (people dressed in wife beaters, etc.) have become staples in American pop culture, and the show itself has shaped how people view the jobs of police men and women all around the country.

Perry Mason
For a brief moment in time, in the late 50’s and early 60’s, Perry Mason, and the actor who played him (Raymond Burr,) was the most popular person in the country. This courtroom drama focused on the work of lawyer Perry Mason, who was either getting people wrongly accused off the hook, are catching the bad guy. There was only right and wrong in the world of Perry Mason, no gray area, and Mason was always the champion of the good fight, the right fight.

Jennifer watches a lot of TV. She has plenty of time because she attends a school online working towards her degree in criminal justice, she hopes to have kids soon!