The success of Jack Webb's television series Dragnet spawned a brace of fact-inspired (and, where possible, location-filmed) imitators and rivals, some of them, like Dragnet, using dramatizations of actual cases. Code 3 was one of them, a syndicated series produced by Rabco (a company also responsible for the foreign intrigue series Passport To Danger) that used cases taken from the files of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, the law enforcement agency serving about half of the 88 cities (but not the City of Los Angeles) within Los Angeles County. As with Dragnet, the names of the principal figures and the locations were changed, as the latter series declared, "to protect the innocent." The principal repeating character was Assistant Sheriff Barnett, played by Richard Travis; also seen in the cast from week to week was Fredd Wayne as Lt. Bill Hollis, and Denver Pyle also turned up on the series.
The program's credits opened with a police operator taking a report and sending it through a pneumatic tube -- all set to a selection of highly dramatic music by Ivor Slaney -- to a uniformed dispatcher, who could be heard above the music saying into his microphone the words "Code 3." The latter is law enforcement and emergency vehicle terminology for "respond with lights and siren." The cases covered by Code 3, all presented with in a 30-minute time-slot. involved everything from embezzlement and fraud to teenage gang violence and murder. Among the more interesting: The search for a murderer on the run who has been bitten by a rabid dog; the hunt for a missing laboratory bottle filled with a deadly radioactive fluid; the search for a cache of blasting caps stolen from a construction site by a group of boys; and an embezzler whose crime is motivated by a tragic family situation. The stories and scripts tended to focus far more on the prepetrators and less on the law enforcement personnel than Dragnet's episodes did and, thus, involve more dramatics than the relatively low-key Jack Webb series. This made Code 3 a bit more conventional and, at times, melodramatic. Additionally, Richard Travis, a second-lead from movies of the 1940s, was nowhere near as memorable as Webb in the central role of the series (though, in fairness, Webb also created and directed as well as starred in his series). In any case, Code 3 was only in production for one season, though it continued to be seen in repeats in such major markets as New York City right into the mid-1960s.
And one thing that Code 3 had going for it, in terms of official imprimatur and recognition, was the presence of Eugene W. Biscailuz, the real-life Sheriff of Los Angeles County. Biscailuz, a 50-year veteran of the sheriff's office and a living piece of Los Angeles and law enforcement history, appeared at the end of each episode and lent a unique level of credibility to the series. The one flaw was that he was so low-key and unassuming in his presentations, seated at his desk, talking calmly and a bit stiffly about his pride in the Code 3 shows, that one needed to know his background (something most L.A. viewers would have) to fully appreciate his presence. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi
- Richard Travis, Denver Pyle, (more)