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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: #173,498 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Harold Wolf TOP 50 REVIEWER on August 12, 2012
Format: DVD
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 ›
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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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Format: DVD
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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I think that anyone who is a real fan of British crime and police stories would probably enjoy. For me it was a "look back" at early TV, the backround sound effects and music. The stories were good, but a lot of overacting by the lead characters, but still worth watching
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This program is loaded with problems. The first one is the cover art that claims that this is a spy program. This is not true. The "bad guys" are acting on their own and are not members of a foreign nation's espionage service.

In several episodes the senior police officers have culturally lower class confrontive behavior towards each other. They engage in physical and emotional violence against innocent suspects. In one episode the suspect is interviewed for several days and is not allowed to have an attorney present.

There are technical flaws. In one episode there is a cargo ship tied up at a dock. A frogman jumps into the water and is able to scale the sheer cliff 40 foot side of the ship in a few minutes without any tools. He is able to search the ship for a certain person without being seen by the crew and several police officers who are waiting for him. He shoots his victim only once and in the back. (The assailant is an experienced war veteran and would have emptied the whole clip on the victim.) The frogman leaps into the water. Instead of swimming away to a place where the shore is not swarming with policemen waiting for him, he makes to the local shore where he is caught. In a later scene the victim is in the hospital with a wound in the front of his shoulder. It is then revealed that the victim, even though he is a Polish citizen and captain of a Polish cargo ship, has detailed and up to date knowledge of Soviet practices in using trawlers for intelligence platforms. This is about as realistic as the CIA telling a Japanese cargo ship captain about how they collect information.
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