Worst to Best
The Sweeney
Season Two

Broadcast in the Autumn of 1975, the second season of The Sweeney saw it gain further popularity, even becoming the most-watched programme in the country for two of its instalments.
     


by
THE ANORAK
SEPTEMBER 2014


After looking back over the first season in May, The Anorak Zone continues to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the programme by rating the second from worst to best...

13 Trojan Bus

"Well I'm glad someone's amused."
Incredibly, this sequel to Golden Fleece was originally intended to be the big season closer. Yet when events in Thou Shalt Not Kill! mirrored a real-life crime in the news, the order of the final episodes were pushed around in the schedules, and this aired tenth. Featuring schoolboy humour from the two leads and such events as a comedy Austrian and a gardener and his malfunctioning hose, this is appalling, almost unwatchable stuff. Of course, all humour is subjective and this may be someone's idea of the best ever episode (a title currently used to describe it on YouTube, in fact), but there's a jarring tonal change when each episode ends with monochrome stills and a slow, downbeat rendition of the theme tune.

12 Supersnout

What begins as a decent episode soon crumbles into an ill-advised farce, with Bill Maynard – then best known as Selwynn Froggitt – as a commanding officer suffering a nervous breakdown, plus Japanese tourists and randy housewives. Plotwise, it's written from the end result backwards. The entire narrative hinges on a commanding officer being disgraced and made to look foolish, but this can't happen to an officer we already know, such as Haskins, otherwise the character is gone for good. So Haskins is inexplicably "in Toronto" and an entirely new character is brought in for a single episode. Also troubling is Carter asking Regan if his two female neighbours are still around, and being disappointed when they aren't. The episode was filmed around ninth in production order, after the episode where Carter's wife is murdered... but screened much earlier, third in the run. As a result what was a downbeat Carter looking to relieve some depression becomes a randy police officer prepared to cheat on his wife.

11 I Want The Man

Sometimes it's impossible for a star of a certain stature and recognisability to appear in smaller guest roles. Although comic actor Roy Kinnear gives a fine performance in this one, you can't help but spend the entire episode going "it's Roy Kinnear". It doesn't help that the episode, while functional, is curiously lacking in drama. Featuring several of Regan's grasses living in fear from a hard man criminal who resembles Rod Hull, it trundles along without much incident until a strangely-directed climax where it appears that Regan speaks so loudly the villain overhears him referring to Kinnear as a grass. On hand to add some flavour is Haskins in a beige cardigan, receiving rare warmth from Regan, including a childishly amusing pun: "Hijack?" "'ello, Guv."

10 Golden Fleece

The story to introduce Patrick Mower's leadenly unfunny "comedy" Australian, this one sees Carter and Regan outwitted for the first time. Almost saving the day is Carter, who happens to read an address off a conveniently-placed elastic band. Such moments are nothing compared to the entire plot, which hinges around the belief that Haskins might be a bent cop. The idea of basing episodes around such a premise – even though another season two episode with such a device ranks far higher in this list – is fundamentally unsound. All drama is artifice, of course, but if the series asks if a regular is crooked, then the answer is self-evident.

9 Poppy

Reputedly written by Trevor Preston in just three days, the rushed nature of this one does shine through, with the two leads underwritten and marginalised. Like most Sweeney episodes, there's a certain level of production quality which means they never fall too far, but even the action scenes discard the bongos and just make do with a light jazz flute. Most troubling of all is the treatment of women. The depiction of women in The Sweeney is better than the stereotype, though Regan's remark about a man's secretary - "I could give her a few exercises" – is beneath the character. Most troubling of all though is a villain's girlfriend who is slapped in the face for being too confrontational... and then apologies to him as a result.

8 Stay Lucky Eh?

A decent enough episode that does seem to feature a lot of characters telling each other stuff they'd already know, just to pass the info on to the viewers. Perhaps most bizarre is Regan telling Carter that a villain is so hard you could rollerskate on him. It's a cue for Carter's punning "I'd better get my skates on then", but doesn't take into account that being able to rollerskate on a hard man is something that no one would ever say. Such moments of contrivance litter Trevor Preston's script, even though normally he's one of the more reliable writers. Add to this some incredibly fake-looking fight sequences, even by the usual standards of the show. As with a lot of season two, it's overconfident and doesn't really achieve its full potential, though as the ranking attests, this is one of the better efforts.