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Blu-ray review: Regan - the original pilot for The Sweeney (1974)

Regan

Remember Armchair Cinema? No, me neither. I'm sure it was a pretty good series, but even if it wasn't, it spawned one classic episode and one classic TV series which is still on the box right now, The Sweeney. That episode was called Regan and it's just been issued by Network on Blu-ray for the very first time.

Regan might have been intended as a one-off episode, but you suspect that the writers already had one eye on a series, because this is very much the calling card for the entire run of the show. The characters, the background, the plot, the violence, the warts 'n' all portrayal of London and the police force - it's all here. Indeed, Regan's opening line in the episode is perhaps his most famous line from the series: 'Get our trousers on…you're nicked!'

Where it possibly lacks is the storyline, perhaps because of all that character building and partly because some of the episodes that followed were so damn good - none of which had to go into detail about Regan's marriage, his working methods, his relationship with Haskins and so on. 'Regan' had already done the legwork on that front.

But even allowing for that, this is a pretty impressive work, especially when you consider it was just another TV drama back in 1974. The story starts in a dockside pub, where an ambitious DS from the flying squad is sticking his nose in…he know something is going on. Unfortunately for him, he's spotted by the local villains he's tracking. When he follows them, he gets cornered in a warehouse, beaten, thrown out of the window and left to die.

…enter Detective Inspector Regan…

Regan (John Thaw) is the classic '70s 'tear up the rulebook' copper, a man who gets results, but makes a lot of enemies 'upstairs'. It's not his case, but he wants to find out who killed one of his team. Enlisting old DS George Carter (Dennis Waterman), who has experience 'south of the river', they go about digging around to find out who did the deed, whilst slowly discovering just why one of his team was really killed. Can Regan find the people behind it before his superiors put him under suspension from the job? I think you can guess…

As I said, it's a good watch, even if, at 77 minutes, it's a little short. The Blu-ray release is also a bit short of extras too - a commentary and an interview is all you get.

But it is in high-definition, which is more impressive than you might think. Bold orange Ford Escorts, dodgy psychedelic neck scarves, the dandruff on a seedy photographer's suit, the plastic wigs - the Blu-ray really does bring the glory and the grime of the era to life. It certainly whets my appetite for a full Sweeney Blu-ray outing, which I suspect is coming next year.

In the meantime, treat yourself to this. As I said, not the best episode and not the best package, but a glorious slice of cult TV and '70s crimefighting that's well worth digging out.

Find out more at the Amazon website

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