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

Friday and Gannon take Stanley home so they can retrieve the stolen items. Stanley’s room is covered in posters and Captain Lightning collectibles. For a fictional one-off character, the art department really went all out. The front door of the house is heard closing and Mrs. Stover calls out to see if Stanley is home. He panics. “OH GOD HOW I WISH I WERE CAPTAIN LIGHTNING,” he says, also wishing for invisibility. He turns away as he starts sobbing. Joe and Bill exchange a glance before Joe puts his hand on Stanley’s shoulder.

Then the worst thing to ever happen on Dragnet happened. Worse than the baby in the bathtub. Worse than the guy eating paint during Blue Boy’s LSD party. When Stanley started sobbing, his face was pressed up against a poster of Captain Lightning. When Joe pulls the young man away, we see that Stanley’s tears lined up EXACTLY where Captain Lightning’s eyes were on the poster. AHHHHHHHHHH. Part of me hopes that Burt Prelutsky, the writer for this episode, started with that image and reverse engineered the episode.

On May 10th, trial was held in Superior Court of California for the county of Los Angeles. The results of that trial: Stanley is under the supervision of LA County Probation for 2 years, with extensive psychiatric care. Sadly, as he stands in front of the gray wall of judgment, Stover is wearing street clothes instead of his stupid costume.

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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 🙂