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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.
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on 25 November 2011
Its quite easy to flick on the TV these days and watch another police themed drama serial with the latest favoured actor in the main role looking like they just stepped out on a cat walk.

Well a certain TV show called 'The Sweeney' is the grandfather of any police series! This series produced by Euston Films in the mid to late 1970s changed the face of British TV drama for ever. Prior to the early 1970s, most television programmes were studio based with outdoor scenes being quite limited due to production costs and in the case of great shows like The Saint some external scenes consisted of stock footage and the actors appearing before a live projection scene which often dates the programme concerned.

However Euston films began developing television serials that were all shot on location with the much underated series Special Branch in 1972, starring George Sewell and Patrick Mower. However as Special Branch came to an end in 1974, Euston looked at new ideas for a police series and approached writer Ian Kennedy Martin who provided the script to a play that he titled 'Regan'. This 75 minute story focused on a serving Detective Inspector in the Metropolitan Police Flying Squad who was something of a thief taker and who was not affraid to bend the rules. Screened as a Armchair Theatre production in June 1974 starring John Thaw in the title role as DI Jack Regan, the film so well recieved that Thames Television asked Euston Films to commission a television series that they called 'The Sweeney'. The rest is television history!

This masterpiece in British television has been crafted together on a polished DVD collection by Network. This really is a credit to Network who have cleaned up alot of the grainly film quality from the tapes they obtained and made the picture quality of a cinema like experience. Another bonus feature is the various extras that feature on the discs. There are audio commentaries on some of the episodes in series one and a large proportion of episodes have an introduction sequence from a guest actor who recollect their memories of The Sweeney. I believe Network collated all their interviews for this DVD release in 2004/05 and since then guest actors George Sewell, James Booth and series regular Garfield Morgan (Frank Haskins) have all sadly passed away. Their contributions to this DVD makke this package all the more special.

There are a couple of different box sets floating around - but I believe the ultimate one is the package that contains the pilot film, all 53 episodes and the two cinema films along with the added extras. Having owned my own set for several years, I can honestly say that I never get bored with this series. Whether you pay just £40 or over £100 for this package - the money is well worth it. Sitting infront of a modern day LCD/plasma TV watching an episode of The Sweeney is pure gold.

I'm sure that recent TV shows like Life On Mars owe a lot to this masterpiece of the 70s and its not hard to see why!
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on 16 April 2008
The Sweeney is simply the greatest television programme ever made, and this is one of those box sets where they seem to have gone out of their way to cram extra goodies in. That adds up to a brilliant package.

Besides the material mentioned elsewhere (all the episodes, the pilot and both feature films) there are whole episodes from other shows, including 'Special Branch' (with Dennis Waterman in the guest role that apparently got him the job as George Carter), and "Thick as Thieves", the sitcom John Thaw starred in (opposite Bob Hoskins) before the Sweeney. There are even PDFs of The Sweeney Annuals.

I'm not completely convinced by the restoration (the colours seem a bit bright - I preferred the dull-as-ditchwater 1970s originals!), but you soon get used to it, and the commentaries, with people like Dennis Waterman and Garfield Morgan, are very entertaining and informative. You get a booklet with brief plot summaries of all the episodes too. A really excellent set.
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The Sweeney has been long hailed as a milestone in British TV history for its quality acting and direction. And the series proves that is true when you realise that it still looks good after all these years. This is an excellent DVD set. The whole thing has been digitally restored and looks and sounds great.
I personally don't like this show as much as shows made by ITC but it clearly does have very good scripts, acting and production. It is still entertaining nearly 40 years after it was made.
Taking its name from the Cockney rhyming slang for flying squad, (Sweeney Todd) this is one of televisions most physical cop shows. It features crook thumping detectives Reagan and Carter. They race around London in their gold coloured Ford Granada. Reagan has little time for rules and regulations and is always in conflict with his superiors. He is a heavy drinker and is always in bed with another woman. Understandably he is estranged from his wife. Carter is the rookie who is reliable and tough.
The show was made at a time when the police did not record interviews with criminals. This is reflected in the show and these fictional characters use no nonsense and brutal methods to get a result.
The show used a former Flying Squad officer, (Jack Quarrie) to advise the scriptwriters. It was also claimed that the real police had such officers as Reagan and Carter and it raised public controversy over the reality of police methods and ethics.
The show has swearing and violence but it also has humour. It even had Morecambe and Wise in one episode. Two feature films were also made as a spin off from the series. The Sweeny ended in 1978.

This is a classic British TV series and the DVD set is well presented.
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on 25 November 2008
The best collection of one of the very best television series of the 70s.
This groundbreaking Police drama was made in an era when professional programme makers were not on their knees to the great god of political correctness, in other words it's got b***s.
The acting (John Thaw was never better), scripts and production are all of a very high quality, particularly the first two series. Authenticity takes precedence over preaching; the main characters rulebending and chauvinism nearly always ring true. The unsanitised extreme violence is used to show the good guys taking on the bad guys at their own game (and nearly always winning).
It might not have the gloss of a lot of modern TV drama but it's got something else, integrity.
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on 2 September 2011
This is an excellent box set. Every episode, both films, the pilot film and a heap of extras including commentaries on some episodes. Some have a short introduction by guest stars that appeared in the episode. No subtitles though. Remastered with a choice of audio - Dolby 5.1, original mono or 'music only' which allows you to hear the various pieces of music used in each episode without the dialogue on top of it. There's some groovy music on there.
The Sweeney remains the best cop show. This 18 disc box set is a great presentation of it.
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on 21 October 2009
Today Amazon made me happy. The much-wanted Sweeney boxset turned up and it's magnificent! Now if you're not British or under 35 you won't know what it is, but if you like Life On Mars you'll love this. The writers of Life On Mars said that basically they wanted to write The Sweeney.

Packed full of all the episodes in lovely remastered beautiful-looking colours was all I was expecting. But it's got more!

Commentaries with Dennis Waterman, Garfield "Haskins" Morgan; writers, Ted Childs, Trevor Preston, Troy Kennedy Martin; editors; directors and numerous introductions by the guest stars it's worth every penny of the measly £46 I spent on the DVDs (all 18 of them!) and also music-only audio tracks should you want them!

It also has the Armchair Theatre episode which inspired the series and the two Sweeney movies.

The colours are beautiful and the banter in the commentaries just make me wish I was working for Euston Films in the 70s. It sounds like they had a blast and hearing them now you can picture them all sitting before the mics with a tumbler full of scotch.

I heartily recommend this to you, buy it, you'll have the time of your life (Running time: 48 solid hours if you didn't sleep, or go to the toilet).

Also check out "Shut It! Music of the Sweeney" which is on Amazon and comes recommended by none other than Mr D. Waterman in the commentary of the first episode.
Shut It! Music of the Sweeney

Now get yer trousers on, you're nicked.
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on 21 January 2012
The Definitive Sweeney - Complete TV series 1-4, The Sweeney & The Sweeney 2 (18 Discs) [DVD]

Having read most of the 5 star reviews and being in full agreement with the sentiments therein I have one small, very very small issue with this version and I have not seen other versions but I cannot understand why in a digitally restored Definitive version they choose to put 4 episodes on at least one disc which actualy shows the compression by causing fast moving scenes to go blocky like a badly ripped to pc copy.
I know nothing is perfect in life but for the sake of 1 extra disc?
Otherwise Relive this Fantastic Series, Movies and original Regan One off with relish
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on 15 March 2010
I have been itching to buy this set and now its been reduced in price I though I should go for it. So was the wait worth it ?
Oh yes it was.

I could not have wished for a better more extra packed release. All the episodes have been remastered and it shows. Colours are bright and the whole picture looks fresh. Sound is stereo or the original mono and there are audio commentaries on some episodes, a great booklet and some complete episodes of other series that starred Thaw or Waterman. Finish it off with the 3 movies and we have the complete, definitive set. Just beware you dont buy the 'vanilla' version (same set but no extras what so ever) as they have similar covers.
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on 20 November 2012
OK, so here I am four years after buying this, and I've still not watched it all!

I am however enjoying slowly working through the episodes and extras of what is a very well written, filmed and acted TV show. Definitive sums up this package - even to the pilot and the two (70s) movies. There are lots of extras including great little interviews, episodes from other programmes eg 'Special Branch' with Dennis Waterman. There are even pdf versions of Sweeney annuals.
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