TV classics: Decoy aka Decoy Police Woman
USA 1957-58, 1 season, 39 episodes, approximately 25 minutes each, Syndication, black & white. Inspired by Jack Webb’s Dragnet, Dedicated to the Bureau of Policewomen of the NYPD. Cast: Beverly Garland
Plot summary: Police woman Casey Jones investigates undercover in New York City by diving into different milieus and situations to solve her assigned cases.
Review: Decoy was the first American TV show that focused on a female police officer, Casey Jones. With only one central character, Decoy Police Woman presented crime stories from a female perspective, often commented on by Beverly Garland as Casey Jones at the end of an episode. Crimes on women were frequently covered, but not exclusively so. The show offered a new insight but wasn’t meant to only attract a female audience.
As an undercover officer, Casey Jones entered a lot of different worlds and milieus. Beverly Garland thus laid the groundwork for an interesting show by playing the same character under different circumstances and in different situations each week. She had to adapt to her weekly case and mastered the art of transformation from a dutiful officer to whatever her cover required. Later known for her memorable supporting roles in My Three Sons and Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Beverly Garland got a chance to shine on Decoy by showing her diversity and maturity as an actress. And so she did as a sincere and committed forerunner for the talented ladies of Charlie’s Angels, Police Woman or Cagney and Lacey.
Today, Decoy Police Woman is not only a great history lesson for Women’s Studies majors, classic TV enthusiasts and feminists, it is also an entertaining show with elements of film noir and an interesting cast of guest stars like a young Larry Hagman or Peter Falk. Decoy is full of suspense intensified by the beautiful performances of Beverly Garland. It’s a real pity this show only lasted one season.
Selected episodes available on DVD and online.