An Unfortunate Episode: Dragnet Season 3 Episode 21 — The Crimson Crusader

4:25pm Variety Theater. A man matching Mr. Kelly’s physical description and Mr. Snow’s costume description sits in a chair and fiddles with his gloved hands. The main part of the costume has blue pants and a blue shirt with two red C’s on it. Friday asks for the kid’s name. “All the details will come out in due time. I’m powerless to act for you anymore.” Joe is not amused. The kid congratulates the police for apprehending the Crimson Crusader. “Who?” “Me.”

Back at the station, Gannon and Friday struggle to get a statement out of the fallen superhero. He has admitted to crimes, but continues to insist Crimson Crusader is his name. “Am I to understand your family name is Crusader and your parents named you Crimson?” Gannon snarks. Hehe. The costumed man does not pick up what Bill has laid down. “Can’t you tell? I’m on your side.” Joe has no time for this and delivers one of his ball busting lectures which somehow gets people to confess. I guess that’s Friday’s superpower. It works on the kid, who finally fesses up that his name is Stanley Stover, age 23.

With the name issue settled, the police ask why Stanley stole the items. “I didn’t steal them, I’m a collector,” he replies. Oh, semantics. Stanley offers to provide protection to pay for the damages. I don’t think he understands how extortion works, not that that was his scheme. Gannon asks “Why only comic strip heroes?” I don’t understand his question—was Stanley also supposed to steal Teddy Roosevelt memorabilia? Was there an Elizabeth Cady Stanton commemorative plate left on a table unguarded? “Because they’re great men,” Stanley replies. “They can fly and walk through walls. Nothing can hurt them. When I’m the Crimson Crusader, nothing can hurt me.” Things are about to get real, y’all. Friday asks, “And when you’re Stanley Stover?”  “Then everything hurts.”

We enter Timothy Donnelly’s Emmy reel. He starts monologuing about his life, breaking the second rule established in The Incredibles.1 Stanley has been stealing for years, but started to binge this month. He was raised solely by his mom after his dad left when Stanley was a year old. Stanley was always the chubby kid, no doubt made fun of by people like Mr. Kelly who can’t help but obsess over other people. Stanley used movies as an escape and gravitated to the superheroes, particularly Captain Lightning. Even the escapism wasn’t enough. “I made up the name Crimson Crusader,” he says. “I didn’t steal that. There really is no Crimson Crusader.” He also breaks the news that he made his costume himself. You don’t say.

  1. The first being NO CAPES.  

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About Mike McComb 1024 Articles
Mike has been writing about TV online since 2008, when he started the blog WTF Little House on the Prairie? The blog was a project to practice writing about television analytically prior to getting an MA in Television-Radio-Film from Syracuse University, or as he likes to call it "TV Camp." After a lengthy stint at TVLatest, Mike wanted to launch a site that brought in classic TV, diamonds in the rough, and the shows everybody watches. E-mail:
  • Tara Rose

    There needs to be a TV blog about episodes that boil down to, “and then s/he went crazy, cuz s/he was fat.” That last image with the crying poster is so creepy and heavy handed that I get the willies whenever I encounter this episode. Then I remember, “Oh yeah, this has nothing to do with anything!” It’s a cautionary tale telling kids… don’t get too into cosplay?

    • Aaron Mucciolo

      No, it’s a cautionary tale telling kids not to press their faces against collectibles and memorabilia – do you have any idea what Stanley did to that poster’s value?!

      • Tara Rose


    • I think the message for kids is “don’t try to meet your heroes” or get into cosplay at all.

      • Tara Rose

        So that puts this in the same class as Tootie’s Jermaine Jackson fan club. Fascinating!

  • ronnatalie

    That’s OK, he turned his life around and got a job with the county fire department 🙂