I’ve been a big fan of Dragnet since I discovered the late 1960s episodes when I was about 10. When I started listening to old-time radio, Dragnet quickly became one of my favorites in that medium, too. So this Christmas, when my husband presented me with The Game of Dragnet, I was delighted. (By the way, it’s really hard to explain gifts like this to “normal” friends who get jewelry and cookware as presents.)
This Week’s Game: The Game of Dragnet, 1955, Transogram.
The Box: Sergeant Joe Friday, in black and white, gives us a rueful smile, while uniformed officers (in color) pursue a criminal nearby. Shouldn’t Friday be helping them? The box, board, and instructions all include the label “Badge 714” as a kind of subtitle. Remember when syndicated versions of shows that were still airing in prime time ran under alternate titles? Badge 714 was Dragnet’s syndication title.
The Promotional Blurb on the Box: “Do you have the instincts of a detective? Are you adept at interrogation, clever at deduction? You are! Then you must play this drama packed game! Here it is!—a realistic and exciting game of skill, deduction, and luck for teenagers and adults, based on DRAGNET, famous on radio, TV, and in the movies.”
This is actually only about one-fourth of the copy—it is the War and Peace of promotional blurbs.
The Board: The box copy also refers to this a “fascinating and absolutely unique game.” The board, however, is quite generic. Transogram and other companies often produced boards that they could re-purpose for subsequent games. All they would have to do to re-use this design is to swap out the center circle.
Game Pieces: Six police squad cars in various colors and seven suspects. The latter are bell-shaped pieces of colored plastic that attach to interchangeable green bases. Each base bears a number.
Crime File Cards: The most interesting thing about these is that they have random holes punched in them. This mystified me until I read that in the instructions that they “simulate authentic key-punched police file cards.”
Then, of course, I had to seek out more information about key punching.
Game Play: It’s kind of like Clue, but much more complicated. Before the game starts, suspects are attached to bases and planted at various Suspect Hideouts around the board. Each player receives three police file cards. Each player will try to collect three police file cards that fit the same crime—a crime card, a location card, and an evidence card. Each of these cards also has a number on it. When a player adds the three numbers on their three correct cards together, they will get the number of the suspect they are seeking
Players move around the board in their squad cards. When they land on a Suspect Hideout, they can look at the suspect’s number and record it on their score pad. When they land on an Interrogation Post, they can ask a yes-or-no question about a suspect (i.e., is the red suspect’s number odd?), as long as they don’t ask directly what the number is. When they land on a Precinct Station, they can take police file cards from other players.
Whew! Actually becoming a police detective might be simpler than playing this game.
My Thoughts: This looks like it could be fun, as long you invest the time necessary to master all the rules.
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