For those who love intelligent, well-crafted British mysteries--real, honest-to-goodness whodunnits--rarely does a series come along that is as good and as satisfying as Taggart. I had never even heard of the series prior to taking a chance on the first dvd set, and I've eagerly ordered every set that's been released since--and I've not been disappointed! The series is very much in the tradition of Inspector Morse and A Touch of Frost, and fans of those two superb series won't be disappointed with this one. The storylines are well written, with complex plots and plenty of suspects and red herrings. While most series cram the story into 100 minutes, ten of the twelve currently available episodes are over 2 hours in length (around 130 minutes) which allows enough time for the proper development of the story. The series is set in Glasgow, Scotland, and the only thing I ought to mention is that, while most characters speak with easily-understood English or Scottish accents, there is the occasional Scottish accent that is as thick as treacle and very hard, even for a die-hard anglophile like myself, to come to grips with; even Taggart's accent, while not too thick, requires close attention. But it would be a shame for anyone to be deterred on that account, for this really is an outstanding mystery series and it's well worth making the effort with the accent.
Detective Chief Inspector Jim Taggart is a cantankerous, street-wise, dedicated police officer who is initially paired with a young, university-educated officer named Peter. Taggart has little respect for Peter's educated ways, and his relationship with Peter is reminiscent of Delziel's with Pascoe. Taggart doesn't fare much better with Peter's successor, Michael, a young, non-drinking, non-smoking, card-carrying Christian who has a lot to learn about being a cop. As with the aforementioned series, although the crimes are serious and often brutal, Taggart is infused with welcome moments of humour, which take the form of little remarks or jibes and which, as with the other series, are based on an understanding of the characters and their relationships with each other. Fortunately, there have been enough episodes released that one is able to get a real feel for Taggart as an individual.
To date, four sets (each featuring three episodes) have been released, with a fifth set ("Evil Eye") due for release in October. "Killer" is the first set in the series, and it is followed chronologically by "Death Call," "Cold Blood," and "Root of Evil." The series should be watched in chronological order because, although each episode is a complete and separate story, there is some carryover so far as the underlying relationships go. I am assuming "Evil Eye" will follow the others chronologically.
The first episode was produced in 1983, with the rest of the currently available episodes following from 1985 to 1990. Taggart apparently ran for over 20 years, and it is a testament to the quality of the show that it was able to continue--and to continue successfully--despite losing it's title character! Tragically, Mark McManus (Taggart) passed away in 1994. According to the text-based bio, McManus lost his mother and two sisters all within a two-year period; tragically, he then lost his wife to cancer. Overcome with grief, he took to drinking and died of pneumonia 8 months later. Wisely, the producers of the series elected not to replace McManus.
In conclusion, Taggart is an absolutely first-rate British mystery series with complex, well-thought-out, challenging, and very satisfying plots with climaxes that in most cases come as a complete shock. In short, it's just perfect for curling up for an evening in front of the telly whilst trying to figure out whodunnit. This is a series I have enjoyed immensely, and I highly and unhesitatingly recommend all the available dvd sets to all fans of top-notch, intelligent British mysteries. If you have enjoyed any of the aforementioned series, you will not be disappointed with Taggart!