August 24, 2003
High Culture In Surprising Places

The new version of Dragnet seems a pretty typical cop show in most respects. So why does Sgt. Joe Friday keep quoting ancient authors? In a rerun I saw a few weeks ago it was Marcus Aurelius -- not the Greek, just an English translation. I was so flabbergasted I neglected to write it down. Last night (another rerun, but new to me) it was Tertullian, and in Latin: Veritas non erubescit, "the truth does not blush". He pronounced it Italian-style, with a hard V and an SH sound for the SC, but that's not too inappropriate for a Church Father. It wouldn't have been quite so disconcerting if Ed O'Neill, who plays the part of Joe Friday, were not irretrievably identified with his previous role as Al Bundy on Married With Children. Al Bundy as an L.A. police detective, maybe. But Al Bundy quoting Marcus Aurelius and Tertullian? Surely one of the signs of the Apocalypse.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at August 24, 2003 08:58 PM

In a British spy novel of just before WWII (I can't remember the author's name, dammit) the protagonist, Tommy Hambldon (of the Secret Intelligence Service) is stopped at an intersection in his car while several cars filled with bishops of the Church of England cross, supervised by a policeman. Hambldon muses to the policeman about what the proper collective noun for bishops is, speculating that it might be a pride or a bevy of bishops. He is startled when the policeman replies, in educated accents, "Bevy suggests beauty for some reason, sir, and pride is one of the seven deadly sins. I should suggest a palindrome."

Posted by: Michael Lonie on August 24, 2003 09:45 PM

Ed O'Neill ain't no Jack Wwbb, but he does a great Joe Friday after you get accostumed to him. Suspend your disbelief and enjoy.

Posted by: Brand C on August 25, 2003 09:38 AM

I find Ed O'Neill a very believable Friday, in a modern way. But then I never watched Married With Children, so I guess my brain is uncontaminated. Or just empty, which I suspect is the case, sometimes.

Posted by: susanna on August 28, 2003 11:50 PM