Taggart: Superb Scottish TV Mystery Series
Stephanie DePue | Carolina Beach, NC USA | 09/26/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The "Taggart" series opened, on broadcast television at least, on a montage of Glasgow street scenes. Meanwhile you heard a biting "This Town is so Mean," sung, in regard to Glasgow, of course, by the magnificent Glasgow-born blues singer Maggie Bell. But it seems like the DVD's of this series, finally released after a long wait, no longer have quite the same montage, and lack Maggie Bell; guess it was once again licensing difficulties, and it's regrettable, as she greatly helped set the mood.
At any rate, after the montage comes one of the very best, longest-running police procedural series ever made for television, a product of the Scottish Television Company. The scripts, by Glenn Chandler,are ingenious, complex, unpredictable, and demand full attention. They are slyly, seriously humorous. We worry about a baby's dying, of poisoned jam, no less. A not very likable man is found dead in a shipping container in which he'd chosen to hide. That very attractive Scots actor John Hannah, appearing on international TV, so far as I know, for the first time, played a charming, roguish egg cook in a country-western themed Glasgow eatery: he caught the eye of the female owner, and his omelet-making days were over. Casting was reliably top-drawer; mise-en-scene was excellent: Glasgow, high and low, was shown to great advantage. In fact, one of the great strengths of this series is the Glasgow flavoring, available in almost every scene.
And I had a mad crush on Mark Mc Manus, who played Jim Taggart. He brought a great deal to a part that must have been strongly-written on the page: added a Glasgow note all on his own, and an irascible charm, to boot. Unfortunately he died rather young, overwhelmed by a series of personal losses, in the middle of what proved to be the last series of the show, as he couldn't be replaced. (He had a supporting cast of likable young actors, but none could carry the show without him.) Still, "Taggart" must be considered a landmark, and a precursor to the current school of "tartan noir:" the sheer bloodthirsty, dark, unsentimental humor of this series has seldom been matched, and never bettered."
The Very Best of Glasgow Detectives
R. T. Lawrence | Long Island NY USA | 05/31/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Along with Rebus, and Wire in the Blood, these show the very best of Scotland and in particular Glasgow. While doing the series Mark Mcmanus died. Lt Jardin (his side kick you'll meet in the 3rs series and former WPC Jackie continued the series. I don't have any trouble understanding a Scottish accent although many do. It has to do with cadence (rhythm) of their speech. I adore this series and have waited since 1989 for either a video or dvd viewable here. I had taped them while living there but I forgot about the speed difference. It should make for interesting viewing!"