Top positive review
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The Definitive Sweeney - Shut It!
on 20 June 2012
The creation of Ian Kennedy-Martin, the first series of the Sweeney hit TV screens in January 1975, and TV police shows were never the same again. Based around the Metropolitan Police's real life team the Flying Squad, a team dedicated to preventing big figure robberies or catching the perpetrators of such, it was a tough and gritty drama that showed the ugliness of the criminals, and of some of the police trying to catch them. It was a ground breaking step away from the tweeness of things like Dixon of Dock Green and Z-cars. There was no black and white here, there were policemen who were almost as bad as the villains and villains who were likeable and in a strange way sometimes have a better sense of morals than the police. It was this intelligent approach to showing the various shades of grey rather than just heroes and villains that set it apart.
The bedrock of the series is John Thaw as Regan and Dennis Waterman as his sidekick Carter. They made a great on screen team. Regan is an old fashioned thief taker, not too worried about the rules as long as he gets a result. For all the ugly methods he is willing to employ, he has a very strong moral compass - stealing is wrong, and those who steal should be in jail. Constantly in tension with his superiors (in the form of Garfield Morgan's delightfully played slightly stuffy Haskins and (for series 1 only) Morris Perry as the practical but totally Machiavellian Manyon), it seems as though he has to fight both his own side and the villains to get a result. Carter is a likeable sidekick, tough, intelligent, and with a different sense of right and wrong that allows his to keep some of Regan's excesses in check. But with the same dedication to keeping villains off the streets.
The series was filmed on film, on location and in vivid colour. With its colourful characters, moral questions and levels of violence it was ground breaking, and more importantly, thoroughly entertaining. It was a huge success and has become a cult classic. And very deservedly so. But strangely the video and DVD releases over the years have never done it justice. Until Network DVD started releasing them. Over the years I have had a few DVD's from Network, of variable quality from the superb Richard III to the hit and miss Van Der Valk releases. I am happy to report that their Sweeney release is of the absolute highest order. The restoration is second to none. There isn't a single visible defect on the pictures, and it's so vivid that the characters virtually come out of the screen, or you feel like you are in 1970's London. The sound is similarly impressive. With a 5.1 surround mix, the original mono, or an option to watch each episode with music only, you are spoiled for choice. And I have to say that Harry South's famous theme never sounded so good. The 5.1 is bright and crisp, and feels like proper surround. The discs are also loaded with extras, including commentaries with cast and crew and a few episode introductions from famous guest stars.
All the episodes from the all four series, the pilot episode `Regan, and the two feature films are all collected here, in superb quality.
5 stars for this, it's an absolute must buy.