Top positive review
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Most welcome, by a strange selection of episodes
on 8 September 2013
First and foremost, it's great to see Z Cars - any Z Cars - out on DVD! 51 years after its first transmission and 35 years since it ended, this is long overdue and most welcome.
The packaging acknowledges that there are some quality defects in the original materials, some of which are artistic (some appalling green-screen in Loyalties part 2), others simply due to the aging of the materials, but the discs are well encoded and so are faithfully reproducing the available materials. It's also good to see that there are subtitles (as this is licensed from the BBC) and that they are generally accurate rather than paraphrases of the dialogue.
Which just leaves the episodes themselves. Acorn's recent releases of 70s colour episodes of Dixon of Dock Green seemed to go against the received wisdom that in its later years it lacked edge and remained stuck in the 50s. By contrast, these 1972 episodes of Z Cars are something of a disappointment. Having seen the first three black and white episodes from 1962 on the only previous VHS release, Z Cars seems to have regressed over the following ten years, losing much of its grit, and rather out-Dixoning Dixon! For this reason, much as I can understand Acorn's wish to release colour material (not least for impulse sales reasons), I'm not sure this selection represents the best introduction/re-introduction to the series. It's also puzzling that, whilst the packaging makes no claim to these episodes being anything more specific than 'our first collection' (indeed the packaging gives no indication of the titles or even number of episodes), they do not represent the earliest surviving complete colour episodes. Hence they're neither the 'best' episodes nor the earliest extant, but simply six consecutive stories from July, August and September 1972.
Nonetheless I hope this release will not be the last as, despite my reservations, this series remains entertaining with some powerful half hours of drama still in the archive.