The LSD Story
|"The LSD Story"|
|Episode no.||Season 1
|Directed by||Jack Webb|
|Written by||Jack Webb
(credited as John Randolph)
|Produced by||Jack Webb|
|Featured music||Lyn Murray|
|Cinematography by||Andrew Jackson|
|Editing by||William Stark|
|Original air date||January 12, 1967|
|Running time||25 Minutes|
"The LSD Story" is an episode of the Dragnet television series that appeared on the NBC network on January 12, 1967. It was written, produced and directed by Jack Webb, who also starred as Joe Friday. It is sometimes called "Blue Boy" after a character appearing on it. This was the first color episode broadcast of Dragnet and the first episode of the later series broadcast.
A new drug recently became available in the city when a call comes into the Los Angeles Police Department juvenile narcotics division with a complaint of a person painted like an Indian and chewing the bark off a tree.
When detectives Joe Friday and Bill Gannon arrive at MacArthur Park, they find a boy with his head buried in the ground. The suspect is acting erratically and has half of his face painted blue and the other half yellow and identifies himself only as Blue Boy. A tussle ensues after the boy is read his Miranda rights and placed under arrest.
A doctor determines the boy is under the influence of an unknown drug and he's taken to the narcotics unit of juvenile division where he's questioned. The boy is found with several sugar cubes and states there's no law against the drugs he has taken. He continues to act erratically, so Captain Richey tells the detectives to bring the sugar cubes to the crime lab for analysis.
At the scientific investigation division, forensic chemist Ray Murray states that the drug is lysergic acid diethylamide tartrate, commonly known as LSD-25, that it was developed by a Swiss biochemist named Albert Hofmann, and it causes hallucinations, severe nausea along with aches and pains as well as anxiety and depression. Sergeant Friday states there are no laws to cover the use or sale of LSD.
Back at juvenile division, the boy is identified as Benjamin "Benjie" Carver. Benjie's parents are briefed about the situation, but they don't feel there's cause for concern and they don't want their son arrested. The father states that LSD is not illegal and Friday informs him that it's against the law to be in an intoxicated state under the influence of any drug. The father threatens to get his attorney involved and wants to take the boy home, so Captain Richey tells the detectives to book Benjie under the generic law; In danger of leading an idle, dissolute or immoral life, section 601 of the welfare and institutions code.
The case was heard in court several weeks later where Benjie is placed on probation and released to his parents. Two days later, Friday and Gannon join Sergeants Zappy and Carr in questioning two juveniles, Sandra Quillen and Edna Mae Dixon, who are high on LSD. The girls mention that they got the drugs from Blue Boy and then get sick. Sergeant Zappy relates that a bus on Sunset Strip will drive people up to Hollywood Hills to take the Acid Test for a dollar.
Over the next six months, acid becomes more popular. The captain informs the detectives that new state and federal laws have been passed, listing LSD as a dangerous drug. (This had, in fact, occurred on October 6, 1966.) A youth, Teddy Carstairs, is brought in for possession of LSD. He says he got the drugs from Blue Boy and is willing to testify to it. Friday and Gannon visit the Carver's home to pick up Benjie only to discover he moved out three months earlier.
Two months later and the detectives find Sandra and Edna Mae on Sunset Strip and find out that Blue Boy is having an acid party. They get the address and find several people high on acid including a painter eating paint off a paintbrush who tells them Benjie left. Friday calls in for officers to arrest the partygoers and finds out a drugstore has recently sold 3,000 empty pill capsules. At the drug store, the pharmacist identifies Benjie as purchasing the empty capsules and gives them his address.
Friday and Gannon arrive at an apartment building and get a key to Benjie's apartment from the manager. Inside they find Benjie's friend, Phillip Jameson, and lots of drugs. Benjie is on the other side of the room motionless, having been that way for about an hour, and after telling Phillip he wanted to "get further out". Friday checks his pulse and declares, "Well, he made it. He's dead".
A mortuary inquest found that Benjamin Carver had taken his own life as the result of an accidental overdose of lysergic acid diethylamide and various barbiturates.
The Old-Time Dragnet Show with Adam Graham, writing in 2010, claims that this particular episode was voted #85 for "greatest TV episodes of all time" by TV Guide and Nick at Nite’s TV Land. Describing the social context, he says:
"The show does a great job showing how those who are charged with enforcing the law are often frustrated by the law. It was also cutting edge in dealing with the issue of LSD in 1967 ... For some, this represented a hard hit back against the emerging counterculture ... Friday re-emerged as the rock solid hero we needed in a time when everything was shifting."
- While the episode centers on the dangers of LSD, the climax shows that Benjie died not of an LSD overdose (which is nearly physically impossible), but rather a barbiturate overdose, which another character says was brought on by Benjie's desire to get "farther out."
- The plot in this episode was inspired by a real life acid test in Watts. That event was chronicled by Tom Wolfe in his book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. The band was the newly formed Grateful Dead. Merry Prankster Paul Foster, face painted half silver and half black, was arrested.
- Graham, Adam (Nov 24, 2010). "My Favorite 1960s Dragnet Episodes #2: The LSD Story". The podcast you are about to hear is true ... The Old-Time Dragnet Show with Adam Graham. Retrieved Mar 6, 2011.
- Beale, Scott; Laughing Squid (Aug 14, 2008). "Dragnet: The LSD Story". Laughing Squid. Retrieved Mar 6, 2011.
- McNally, Dennis "A Long Strange Trip", p.130