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SPECIAL BRANCH, SET 1

2.9 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

"Hard-hitting" -The Scotsman (U.K.)

Classic British spy drama

"Groundbreaking drama" -The Independent (U.K.)

This gritty, realistic police procedural focuses on the Special Branch of London’s Metropolitan Police—a force dedicated to stopping terrorist activities and countering espionage in the nation’s capital. With an exceptional cast that includes George Sewell (Get Carter), Patrick Mower (Callan), and Richard Leech (Doctor Who), Special Branch is a suspenseful ride through the underbelly of Britain’s international affairs.

In the role of DCI Alan Craven, George Sewell provides a committed but world-weary epicenter to a dangerous, ever-shifting landscape of spies, assassins, surveillance, and sudden death. Working with a team of officers that includes the younger and brasher DCI Tom Haggerty (Mower), the veteran cop confronts explosive issues with life-or-death consequences.

Special Features

SDH Subtitles
BONUS Interview with George Sewell and Patrick Mower (17 min.)

Product Details

  • Actors: Darren Nesbitt, Morris Perry, Fulton Mackay, Roger Rowland, Keith Washington
  • Directors: Dennis Vance, Mike Vardy, Jim Goddard, William G. Stewart
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Acorn Media
  • DVD Release Date: September 25, 2012
  • Run Time: 662 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B008CYDDGO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #108,961 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

1973 UK spy/crime drama targeted for America. Even hostage demands come in dollars, not pounds. Action, violence, and on-location filming (not sets), new at the time. A huge change from "Special Branch" of earlier years, including cast. DCI Craven (George Sewell- Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) leads and is capable of break & entry, blackmail, and assault when off or on duty. Patrick Mower (Callan; Sweeney) plays DCI Haggerty in 7 episodes. DS North (Roger Rowland) shares Craven's office.

National security is the theme in this Special Branch series. Perfection 1970s period crime mystery since it was filmed as contemporary in the 70s. Stories are good but lack the special final surprise twist built into 21st Century TV cop episodes. This series is liberally sprinkled with big guest stars, fun for nostalgia lovers. A few noted below.

SDH SUBTITLES for all episodes. Details for those who like them.
~~1 A Copper Called Craven
Smuggler claims he bribed D.C.I. Craven, who's suspended, & needs to clear his name. Pettiford (Peter Jeffrey -Middlemarch) treats him harsh. His boss is Nicholls (Richard Butler- Middlemarch). Craven's black lover, Pam (Sheila Scott-Wilkinson), also a nurse, appears in 7 episodes.
~~2 Round the Clock
Stakeout with partner DCI Haggerty is long & filled with tension.
~~3 Inquisition
Craven nicks a bloke (Clifford Rose- G.B.H. & Iron Lady) on small crimes, an effort to get more important secrets from the suspect.
~~4 Assault
Haggerty's dad's beating resulting in a coma is out of Special Branch jurisdiction until another victim (Richard Vernon- Duchess of Duke Street) leads to a manhunt.
~~5 Polonaise
Polish ship Capt/former Nazi collaborator will be a hard man for Craven & North to protect.
Read more ›
2 Comments 4 of 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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This show ran for four seasons, in 1969, 70, 73 and 74. This is the 1973 season and it featured a new leading man, George Sewell as the lead inspector Craven. The cases here are very realistic though, cases where special branch investigates leaks from government officials or they deal with terrotists. (leftist hippie types financed by the communist states), and other cases. THat means this is a slow moving show that has little action in it. Sure special branch did in fact have real action adventures but usually most of the work was more mundane , just like some FBI work would be. (as in mnitoring emails of generals and uncovering scandals like the Petrasis scandal of 2012). The show on that level is good. It does reflect its time though, a time when cops could hit suspects and detain them for long periods. The system was not reformed until the late seventies. And this was the case for many U.S. police departments too. SO the two star reviewer is wrong on this being unbelievable , in fact this show is very believable. And therefore the cases are uually nonviolent and plodding just like most real cases are! the film itself is in sad shape though, at that time the uk tv industry often destroyed their shows after airing them. So good copys do not exist of these programs. Some shows were treated worse than this and they don't even exist anymore. But there are endless scratches and nicks etc on these episodes. The colour is faded badly too. Still we have all seen alot worse because this is still viewable. The other seasons still exist too though and are available in the uk on their dvd's. This isn't a show like the sweeney though. The sweeney is a group of swat like cops over there who had lots of action and that show is a action fest.Read more ›
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Not exactly what I was looking for but not entirely a dud. A 70's era action series set in London. Good acting but not a lot of action. Slow moving.
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I'm of two minds about Special Branch. On the one hand, it features George Sewell, an actor I came to like through his appearance in the appalling science fiction series UFO. It's also gritty and realistic and in some ways bold for its time -- for example, Sewell's character, who is white, is romantically involved with a black woman, and this at a time when segregation was a relatively recent memory on both sides of the Atlantic. On the other hand, the stories generally grind out with excruciating slowness and, on occasion, seeming aimlessness. The first episode is in many ways a textbook example of how not to make a television pilot. Still, perhaps, that's part of the realism, and in its own way the show is a time capsule that never ceases to fascinate. If you were taken by the character of Gene Hunt and his milieu in the original UK series Life on Mars, you might want to give this a try to recapture that sense of hard-edged aura of British police work in the early 1970s. Just expect things to unfold at a l-e-i-s-u-r-e-l-y pace.
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Excellent early 70's English cop style drama. The main characters are acted really well and the show tends to focus as much on personalities as action, striking a gritty balance between characters and drama, set against a backdrop of early 70's London life. First saw them as a Kid back then, been appreciating and enjoying them much more now as a mature adult. Highly recommend.
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SPECIAL BRANCH, SET 1
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