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A very broad genre, drama can refer to any scripted program on television that is not comedic or reality based like variety shows, game shows, sports, and news programs.  Dramatic programs include shows based on existing fiction (i.e., novels and plays) or are new works of fiction written specifically for the program.

Dramas can include daily or weekly series, miniseries, and made-for-TV movies, and may be categorized into sub-genres such as legal dramas, crime dramas, political dramas, medical dramas or just about any other subject.

Broadcast for one season of 39 half-hour episodes in 1957-1958, “Decoy” was the first American television series about a female police officer.  The police officer, Casey Jones (Beverly Garland), was often assigned to work undercover, thereby being the decoy in the cases she was working on.  She was depicted as a serious, dedicated, but sympathetic officer, and the episodes were dedicated to the Bureau of Policewomen in the NYPD.  Guest stars on the series include Edward Asner, Martin Balsam, Peter Falk, Colleen Dewhurst, Larry Hagman and Suzanne Pleshette.

“Man Against Crime” (also known as “Follow That Man”) was a half-hour dramatic series broadcast in 84 episodes over six seasons from 1949 to 1956 (aired live until 1951).  Based in New York, Mike Barnett (Ralph Bellamy), a tough private eye, tracked down con men and other sinister characters.  In the 1951 season Robert Preston appeared as Pat Barnett, Mike’s brother.  Allan Hale, Jack Warden, Jack Albertson and Martin Balsam appeared as guest stars in some of the episodes.  (During the final season Frank Lovejoy assumed the role of Mike Barnett.)

From 1958-1960 “Man With a Camera” aired for two seasons in 29 half-hour episodes.  The dramatic series starred Charles Bronson as Mike Kovac, a veteran World War II combat photographer, working on his own in New York.  His job was to get the photographs for the police, newspapers, insurance companies and other clients that other photographers were not able to get.  He often found himself in trouble with criminals while he worked with the police, using his special equipment that included cameras hidden in his cigarette lighter, his necktie, a radio and other ingenious places.  Always ready to take advantage of opportunity, he even had a telephone in his car and a darkroom in the trunk so he could develop the photographs at the scene.  He usually worked with Lieutenant Donovan (James Flavin) of the police department.  Always on hand and ready to dispense advice was Anton Kovac (Ludwig Stössel), Mike Kovac’s father.  Guest stars included Sebastian Cabot, Angie Dickinson and Gavin McLeod in episodes such as “Close-up on Violence”, “Double Negative” and “The Positive Negative”.

One of the first medical dramas on television, and at that time the most realistic, “Medic” was broadcast for two seasons in 59 half-hour episodes from 1954-1956.  Dr. Konrad Styner (Richard Boone) would introduce and narrate each episode which told the stories of the personal and professional lives of his team of surgeons and doctors.  Dr. Styner also appeared in some of the episodes.  Some of the guest stars appearing in the series were Claude Akins, Lee J. Cobb, Richard Crenna, Dennis Hopper, Lee Marvin, Beverly Garland and Vera Miles.

Sherlock Holmes” (known as “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” outside the United States) was a dramatic series which aired for one 39-episode season in 1954.  Very loosely based on the work of author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the series followed the adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Ronald Howard) and his friend and associate Watson (Howard Marion Crawford).  Another regular of the program was Inspector Lestrade (Archie Duncan).  Episodes telling the stories of their efforts to track down criminals in London include “The Case of the Cunningham Heritage”, “The Case of the Shy Ballerina”, and “The Case of the Thistle Killer”.

1954 brought “The Lone Wolf” to television in a single season of 39 half-hour episodes.  The character of the Lone Wolf was familiar to audiences from earlier movies and a radio program.  The small screen dramatic series was about the adventures of Michael Lanyard (Louis Hayward), a soft-spoken man who worked alone.  The detective/adventurer traveled the world searching for answers and confronting bad guys, helping friends who had called him for assistance with their problems.  His calling card was a small metal medallion with the image of a wolf’s head.  Guest stars on the program included Barbara Billingsley, Ernest Borgnine, Harry Morgan and Joe Besser.

Dramas, full of adventure, mystery and fascinating characters, are available for your entertainment at Matinee Classics.  In these programs you can reconnect with those characters from the early days of television, or meet them for the first time.  

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