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The Sweeney


Jack vs. Gene

An episode guide to the series. This page will be updated with full reviews in due course.

First Season
Regan (Pilot episode)
Written by: Ian Kennedy Martin
Directed by: Tom Clegg
Great introduction to the series! I like the fact it's not a traditional pilot ep with a 'get to know you' type of story. Five minutes in, we're into the body of the ep, and it doesn't let up. The way Regan and Carter ineract you'd have thought John and Dennis had done about 20 episodes together! Good rapport between the two. It's a pretty straightforward story with few twists and turns, but it has good pace and energy. Haskins isn't in it very much though, which is a shame. I always thought Garfield Morgan was an unsung hero of the whole series. The ongoing theme of Jack's fight against his paper-pushing superiors throughout the series is set up in this one. A good start. 
Written by: Trevor Preston
Directed by: Terry Green
Very good ep, and a good way of introducing people to the series who hadn't seen the pilot. Frank Kemble is a great villain, smooth, sharp, intelligent and hard. Perfect Sweeney slag! Brian Blessed doesn't over-act for once! This is the ep with the famous 'We're the Sweeney son, and we haven't had our dinner!' speech, and ome of the other one liners are equally as memorable. The chase through Peckham station is very well done. Trevor Preston is my fave writer from the series. His scripts are always excellent, and this is no exception. Recommended!
Thin Ice
Queen's Pawn
Written by: Ranald Graham
Directed by: Viktors Reitalis
I love this ep. It shows just how far Regan will go to nail blaggers, and he's given permission to bend the rules to breaking point giving Haskins no end of headaches! The scene where the mob kidnap Clark are very tense and the camera angles when he opens the door is quite scary to be honest. Chris Ellison is also very good, but I felt a bit sorry for him getting wasted in the pub at the end. His neurotic wife should have been shot instead, her screaming did my head in! This ep is what really cemented The Sweeney as a cut above all the other cop shows, in that the cops were nearly as dirty as the blaggers they chase, probably truer to life than the police would like us to know. Good ep.
Night Out
Written by: Troy Kennedy Martin
Directed by: David Wickes
Great comedy ep! The wordplay between Jack and the woman with the awful haircut is great, especially the scene where she puts his gun in the dishwasher. The barroom brawl is quite fun as well. The ending however is haunting, and completely removed from the rest of the ep. Jarring but necessary, and the aftermath in the hospital between Regan and the Oily Git is excellent as well. This is about the only decent ep Troy Kennedy Martin wrote, and gets a big thumbs up from me.
The Placer
Cover Story
Golden Boy
Written by: Martin Hall
Directed by: Tom Clegg
The blagger in this ep is so stupid looking that it's impossible to take him seriously as a hardened criminal. The finale at the airport is worth a rewind or two and the scene with the gamekeeper getting run over is pure black comedy, but not really an ep I can reccommend.
Stoppo Driver
Written by: Allan Prior & Peter Braham (uncredited)
Directed by: Terry Green
The car chases in this one are superb! Billy Murray is in familiar territory for him playing someone a bit dodgy, but he does have a good reason this time out. The dialogue after the first car chase is very funny. The story is nice and simple and is easy to watch. Easily one of the more memorable episodes of the whole series. Enjoyable. 
Big Spender
Written by: Allan Prior
Directed by: Viktors Ritelis
Bit of an odd one really. The scenes with Warren Mitchell in drag are plaed completely for laughs, with Regan and Carter bursting in on him being particularly funny, but the scenes with the villains are pretty violent. In all it gives the ep a split personality. The car chase is again well filmed, and the ending with the guy being crushed under the scrapyard cars is scary and realistic. A watchable ep, but can be a bit confusing at times.
Contact Breaker
Written by: Trevor Preston
Directed by: Tom Clegg
Easily my favourite episode of the whole series. Tense, taught and very wella cted by everyone involved, this is classic Sweeney. Janet Key is particularly good as Jack's beleaguered ex-wife and the confrontations between John Thaw and Stuart Wilson are very powerful. The final showdown and punchup in the lift is extremely effective with a good musical score. Got to love the couldn't find an Irishman in a harp club exchange. Also the scene where Regan and Carter find Regan's snout dead and the scene preceding it is much more efective than seeing him getting done over. So many little things and so many big things work in this one. An outstanding ep and my favourite. Miss at your peril.
Second Season
Chalk And Cheese
Written by: Murray Smith
Directed by: William Brayne
'The British are coming!' Colin Welland makes for an extremely effective villain in this one, and is far better than his stint in the first Sweeney film. Why did Carter start on Tober? He deserved to get a hammering! It's a bit out of character for George as well, seeing as he is a bit of a pacifist really, but it doesn't take away from the ep as a whole. Again Peter Braham manages the action, especially the ending with the chase around the factory very well. I very much enjoy this one and recommend it thoroughly.
Big Brother
Hit And Run
Written by: Roger Marshall
Directed by: Mike Vardy
A Carter-centric episode. And what an episode! The story behind it is Stephanie Turner (who went on to be Juliet Bravo) wanted a basic fee to play Mrs. Carter, so the men upstairs came up with the idea of getting rid of her to get out of it. This would also free up Carter to hang around more with Regan. Dennis is superb as the grieving George in this one, and the ending when he could have battered Dr. Who - sorry Patrick Troughton is well handled by the director. Have to say though that the overcoat business is a bit far fetched but I'm willing to overlook it in what otherwise is a very fine episode indeed.  
Golden Fleece
Written by: Roger Marshall
Directed by: David Wickes
Really funny ep, and the ending when Regan realises he still has the bung is funny as :). Haskins really does look stupid in this one though, but it's more than made up for by Patrick Mower and George Layton as the Aussie criminals. They look like they were having a lot of fun with this one, and the ending sets up their return well.  
Written by: Trevor Preston
Directed by: Tom Clegg
If you have to watch this one to get what's going on properly a few times, I don't blame you! It's full of people out to get what they want whilst double crossing each other. It took me about 3-4 times before I finally got it. It's quite complicated, but has excellent replay value. Apparently it took Trevor Preston about 3 days to write it. I'm impressed with the quality if that's the case!  The final chase scene across the muddy fields is brilliantly done, perhaps the best car chase in the series, although looking at the state of the Granada afterwards, no wonder it's in for such heavy restoration! As I've said elsewhere, Trevor Preston is my favourite write on the series, and this just cements his position. Great, great episode all around.
Stay Lucky, Eh?
Trojan Bus
Written by: Roger Marshall
Directed by: Ted Childs
The Aussie blaggers return for a second go-arond, and it's just as fun as last time. The final shootout makes you wish that they would get away! The scene where Jack is in the car to have a shotgun shoved down his ear is scary the first time I watched it, but it leads to the scene where Regan is trying to wake the guy up: 'Come on you slag!' An enjoyable follow up, and miles better than the follow up episode with Tim Cook in the next series. 
I Want The Man
Country Boy
Thou Shalt Not Kill!
Written by: Ranald Graham
Directed by: Douglas Camfield
Very tense episode, this one. The hostage scenes are very well done and the whole situation is knife edge stuff. I like the fact that the villains get away, and Haskins arsed up. Regan tersely telling him the way it is at the end just adds to the needless killing at the end. While not a top ten fave, it is enjoyable and I do advise you to watch it. Funny that this is the final episode of the second series, yet the DVD has it as the third from last?!

Third Season
Selected Target
In From The Cold
Written by: Tony Hoare
Directed by: Terry Green
I seem to always remember this episode very well. The opening sequence with the odd camera angles and filmed in slow motion is eerie and not generally seen in The Sweeney, but it works well. This is an episode that plays with the ground rules of the show, and I think it works extremely well. Regan's almost insane pursuit of the villains elevates this one to a remarkably high level in his quest for revenge for his crippled colleague. It sounds strange but he acts just like Ricardo Montalban as Khan in Star Trek II. (Don't come after me for being a sad Trekkie, Sweeney buffs!) I like this one a lot, and it's good to see some experimentation with the show's format.
Visiting Fireman
Tomorrow Man
Taste Of Fear
Written by: Roger Marshall
Directed by: David Wickes
One of the few psycological eps of the series that asks questions about how tough a man has to be to survive in the force. Have to say Norman Eshley is superb especially at the end when he's in the phonebox. Tim Cook is a great villain - unhinged, unpredictable and violent, but his return episode isn't as good. Yeah, one to watch over and over.
Bad Apple
Written by: Roger Marshall
Directed by: Douglas Camfield
This ep is noticeably similar to The Professionals ep In The Public Interest and an episode of Life On Mars, what with bent police on the take. I like the fact that Regan considers the bent officers as scum. It shows that whilst he is not above breaking the rules he doesn't do it for his own gain. Having said that it's all a bit ho-hum overall, with no driving urgency for Regan to take down the bent coppers, and as such I think it takes away from the episode. This could have been a seriously good one, and whilst not bad, it needs editing a little better. Not bad though. 
Sweet Smell Of Succession
Down To You, Brother
Written by: P.J. Hammond
Directed by: Douglas Camfield
This is quite a quirky one, but I really like it. It's tightly written, with Dave King as a great villian. His role here seems almost like a forerunner to his role in The Long Good Friday. The ending is great. George loses the girl and nearly loses his life. This is one of the few times where carter and Regan seriously fall out, but you can understand where Carter is coming from, what with Regan not telling him about the corpse. The funny thing is they drive off together at the end! John's snarling 'Now SHUT IT!' in this ep is probably the moment we all remember best.
Yeah. A strong ep.
Loving Arms
Lady Luck
On The Run
Written by: Roger Marshall
Directed by: David Wickes
Tim Cook has been bust out of jail and is after Regan. A promising episode, and better than most from the next series, but it's not as strong as it should have been and is nowhere near as good as the Aussie episodes from series two. George Sweeney played a truly scary character last time out. Here he just plays the unhinged villain of the week, and the ep suffers from his over-acting noticeably. Still, it's watchable. 
Fouth Season
Messenger Of The Gods
Hard Men
Drag Act
Trust Red
Written by: Ranald Graham
Directed by: David Wickes
The only ep that makes direct reference to the IRA. The villains in this are a match for Regan and Carter. The scene where they try to run them over with the truck is very tense, and the bit at the end where the girl has the sniper rifle is as well done as Hunter/Hunted from The Professionals, which was the ep where Doyle is being stalked by a guy with.. you guessed it, a rifle with a laser sight. The ending is particularly good, as you can tell Jack and George are more than a bit nervous about taking these guys on alone, but it adds even more depth to this excellent story. The actual nightmare scenes, whilst effective I don't think add anything to the story. A lot better than the early episodes of this season, you can start to see Jack's weariness with the job start to settle in.
Money, Money, Money
Written by: Trevor Preston
Directed by: Sid Robertson
Just when I thought this season was drifting into a mire od mediocrity... Trevor Preston to the rescue once again. George Sewell is excellent, playing the flipside to the guy he played in Special Branch, and the scenes between him and John are tremendous and extremely well acted. The scene where Carter is almost dissected by that woman has me cringing each time I watch it! Yeah. One of the best episodes from the final season.
The Bigger They Are
Feet Of Clay
One Of Your Own
Hearts And Minds
Written by: Donald Churchill and Ted Childs
Directed by: Mike Vardy
This was the final episode to be filmed, and it was seen as a present to John and Dennis. However, the whole thing look more like the Keystone Cops than The Sweeney and the final car chase wouldn't be out of place in that Comic Strip Presents episode from a few years ago which featured The Bullshitters and Shouting George! If they'd just taken the time to edit it a little and not get carried away with the pathos of the occasion. The actual storyline is pretty interesting, but again is another Professionals style script that somehow landed in The Sweeney pile. Watch for nostalgia's sake, but forget the rest.  
Latin Lady
Written by: Roger Marshall
Directed by: Ben Bolt
This the darkest and bleakest of all the episodes, and is all the better for it! Wonderful episode that shows Garfield Morgan off as the fine actor he is. The whole thing shows just how much work can destroy family life. Regan's sympathetic digging of Haskins is very good, and the final scene where Regan and Carter shoot the guy, with Haskins almost unable to do anything is incredible. You can just sense Haskins has had enough of the force as Regan has in the final episode, which makes the ending of the series even more poignant. A stunning episode.
Jack Or Knave
Written by: Ted Childs
Directed by: Tom Clegg
The final episode of the series, and a very fine send off! Much better than the majority of this pretty insipid season IMO. The whole thing has an atmosphere of great sadness and it does feel like the end of an era. Jack walking the streets of London alone and unsure of what to do is a very powerful image. This great, decisive character seen to be at a complete loss is unprecedented. His final speech about why he's so 'utterly and abjectly pissed off' is excellent, and you can almost hear John's voice cracking. The final shot of Regan in the taxi is one that stays with you for a long while afterwards. Perfect end to a brilliant series.

Sweeney! (1976)
Written by: Ranald Graham
Directed by: David Wickes
Is this a Professionals episode gone wrong? I've never seen such a needlessly violent flick in my life except maybe The Punisher. There are a few good scenes like the opening blag, the pub scene and Diane Keen ( ;) ) But the plot has many faults and that's before we get to the abrupt ending. Van Der Valk has a terrible fake American accent, and he's woefully underused. This is about as far removed from the series as Hearts and Minds. Watch only if you're a hardcore Sweeney buff.
Sweeney 2 (1978)
Written by: Troy Kennedy Martin
Directed by: Tom Clegg
Definitely an improvement. This feels like the series and the characterisation is much more natural. Regan seems ot eb extremely world-weary throughout which comes to a head with the scene where the blagger blows his own head off. John's reaction afterwards is almost scary to watch. Some good one-liners and decent pace throughout, with some good action sequences. Did the Cortina going through the window inspire the car through glass in the opening credits of The Professionals? Not sure about why everyone is saying 'fuck' all of a sudden, though. Yeah, not a bad film. Prefer this over Sweeney! anyday.

Top 10 Favorite Episodes

1) Abduction
2) Faces
3) Taste of Fear
4) Jack or Knave
5) Stoppo Driver
6) Ringer
7) Poppy
8) Bait
9) Pay Off
10) Night Out