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6 Degrees Entertainment

'The Sweeney - Seasons 1, 2, 3 & 4'
(John Thaw, Dennis Waterman, Garfield Morgan, et al / DVD / NR / 2010 / BFS Entertainment)

Overview: 'The Sweeney' was a British television police drama focusing on two members of the Flying Squad, a branch of the Metropolitan Police specialising in tackling armed robbery and violent crime in London.

The programme's title derives from Sweeney Todd, which is Cockney rhyming slang for 'Flying Squad'.

The programme was made entirely on film by Thames Television's film division, Euston Films. It originally aired on ITV between 1975 and 1978, starring John Thaw as Detective Inspector Jack Regan, and Dennis Waterman as Detective Sergeant George Carter. Such was its popularity in the UK that it spawned two theatrically-released feature film spin-offs, 'Sweeney!' and 'Sweeney 2.'

DVD Verdict: 'Series 1' ("We're the Sweeney, son and we haven't had our dinner!") - Being that the series was created by writer Ian Kennedy Martin, brother of the better-known Troy Kennedy Martin who contributed several episodes and wrote the second film, it was actually born from a one-off drama, entitled Regan. All the major characters are included here. Garfield Morgan as Haskins, Morris Perry as Det. Chief Supt. Maynon and even Janet Key as Regan's ex-wife Kate. The story is a good one, with violence, excitement, pathos, and humor all rolled into one.

The scene where Regan meets his ex-wife's boyfriend is absolutely brilliant. But in truth it is all brilliant, the acting, writing, direction, camerawork. Truly, a masterpiece of British television from the seventies. That episode that started it all off is here on this first series/season of 'The Sweeney.'

The epitome of 1970's style and attitudes, 'The Sweeney' quickly got into its action-packed ways re: full-speed car chases, fist fights, endless boozing, break-ins, gun fire, rough London dialogue. And, as was its theme, it always managed to incorporate a fair multitude of talented guest actors.

Regan (Pilot) / Ringer / Jackpot / Thin Ice / Queen's Pawn / Jigsaw / Night Out / The Placer / Cover Story / Golden Boy / Stoppo Driver / Big Spender / Contact Breaker / Abduction.

Original As-Broadcast Mono
Episode Introductions
Restoring 'The Sweeney' Featurette

'Series 2' ("Get your trousers on ... you're nicked!") - The basic formula of the second season is unchanged from the first, but great dialogue and characters ensure that even the most hackneyed plotline still entertains. The characters of Regan and Carter evolve during this series, especially after Carter's wife is killed, until they're harder drinking and more cynical than ever.

A particularily outstanding episode is the series climax, 'Trojan Bus', which features one of the oddest chase sequences in the history of cop shows! As usual, an added appeal of 'The Sweeney' is how amazingly anachronistic the mid-seventies look. Clothes and decor that we will (hopefully) never see again.

Oh, and did you know that Dennis Waterman (as George Carter) was originally going to be only an occasional character and the whole show was going to focus on Regan! Hence the pilot episode, I guess! Anyway, th writers noticed that they made a team and the script was changed in the last few days before it had to be handed into Thames TV.

Chalk and Cheese / Faces / Supersnout / Big Brother / Hit and Run / Trap / Golden Fleece / Poppy / Stay Lucky Eh? / Thou Shalt Not Kill! / I Want the Man / Country Boy / Trojan Bus.

Original As-Broadcast Mono
Episode Introductions
Wild Boys Featurette

'Series 3' ("You are nicked, Sonny-Jim!") - By the time we crack open the third season, the hard-drinking, swearing, rule breaking (legal) heavy mob were really in their stride. Sure there are one or two weak episodes, but overall this is marked as being one of the strongest of the show's run.

Furthermore, seeing some familiar looking faces pop up as guests, or simply even just extras always raises a smile after all these years. For those of you who own the other sets, watch out for how the same extras keep turning up as henchmen, and bank managers, etc. Seriously,if you watch these series' back-to-back, you'll be amazed at the recurring characters/actors!

Maybe the acting pool to dip in from in the 70's was a bit shallow? Mind you, a familiar face I can deal with, but some of them have hilarious difficulties with UK regional accents too! All that RADA training and for what, lol!

However, from my point of view, the two episodes featuring psycho Tim Cook, played by the great George Sweeney are particuarly memorable, the entire third season worth buying just for these! And yes, for those that might wish to not-pick, this third season does take on a softer edge; with more comedy and less violence. But is better known for its stronger storylines and better-detailed action sequences; as noted above.

Selected Target / In From the Cold / Visiting Fireman / Tomorrow Man / Taste of Fear / Bad Apple / May / Sweet Smell of Succession / Down to You, Brother / Pay Off / Loving Arms / 'Lady Luck' / On the Run.

Episode Introductions
Original As-Broadcast Mono

'Series 4' ("We've got another kind of holiday planned for you, son!") - As they say in the TV and movie business, I think season four is when the show 'Jumped The Shark'! Aside from all the usual rough and tumble antics of the lower class, and the occasional contrast with the middle class splendor of the super villain or mastermind who planned the central crime like a chess game, there are guest appearances from the likes of Diana Dors, Richard Wilson, James Cosmo and, most notably, Morecambe and Wise!

Yup, in the episode 'Hearts And Minds,' Britain's adored comedic double act make an appearance in 'The Sweeney'! Sorry, but I know this was the last season, but surely things hadn't sunk as low as comedic casting on such an in your face, violent show, had it?! Well, amongst us fans of the show, series four is, sadly, generally regarded as the patchiest by fans of the series - but I enjoyed watching the episodes regardless.

Anyway, luckily the scripts are still sharp, bristle with humor, and totally reflecting the talents of the writers used on the series; such as Trevor Preston and Troy Kennedy-Martin.

Messenger of the Gods / Hard Men / Drag Act / Trust Red / Nightmare / Money, Money, Money / Bait / The Bigger They Are / Feet of Clay / One of Your Own / Hearts and Minds / Latin Lady / Victims / Jack or Knave.

Episode Introductions
Original As-Broadcast Mono

These are all Full Screen Presentations (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.