If you were watching TV in the mid-1970s chances are The Sweeney was one of the weekly highlights and these re-mastered collections will have you pining for a time when the only choice was brown or beige, and a monkey would buy you a lot more than a nice whistle. If, however, these episodes are your first taste of Detective Inspector Jack Regan (John Thaw) and Detective Sergeant George Carter (Dennis Waterman) of the Flying Squad, be warned that you will soon be telling friends to "Shut it!" and scouring the pages of Exchange and Mart for a mint-condition Ford Granada... in "Tawny Metallic". (Ironically the choice ride for slags in the show was the Jaguar MK2 later to become so closely associated with Thaw's more cerebral take on police work, Inspector Morse.) First aired as 1974's pilot Regan, the show was produced by Thames Television subsidiary Euston Films and ran over four series and 53 episodes. Despite being given strict guidelines on speaking parts, locations and structure, writers were expected to produce scripts very quickly and individual episodes were filmed within 10 working days. Based on this frenetic schedule, the result was a choice parade of slags, blags and assorted lowlife, played out across fantastic London locations with a gritty humour that set the agenda for many of the small-screen cop shows to follow. Regan and Carter manage to fit up a few collars between pints, and even occasionally shed their nylon shirts and flares for a distinctly unromantic interlude between the sheets--brown of course. In "Stoppo Driver", when a gang of villains lose their own driver in a high-speed chase the logical replacement for their next blag is Cooney (Billy Murray), the squad's latest chauffeur who learnt everything he knew from Evel Knievel. Led by Barney ("a tough monkey, plenty of form") the thieves kidnap Cooney's bride on their honeymoon night and blackmail him to help them rob a bent card game. Colin Welland provides the hired muscle in the second episode, "Faces", as renegade ex-marine Tober, visiting the Smoke from Manchester to help a terrorist gang take down four quickfire scores to fund their operations. The Sweeney boys know a hard man when they see one ("he did Smoky Evans with a hatchet") and relish the opportunity for some fisticuffs between styrofoam cups of tea (like "liquid concrete"). Things get messy when a stuck-up intelligence officer tells them the final blag is being faked to rustle out his undercover grass and Regan is forced to stand down, despite having acted on their own pint-sized informant's tip-off: "but it was the dwarf"! --Steve Napleton [show more]
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