Cly­de­side cops with mur­dah on their minds

Tag­gart 8.30pm, ABC

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv - Stephen Matchett

WELL, what do you know, ‘‘ there’s been a mur­dah’’ in Tag­gart, as in all the 85- odd other episodes of this Glaswe­gian po­lice drama, in which the ac­cents are as thick as the di­a­logue is thin.

Cly­de­side homi­cide is such a sta­ple of this se­ries that the Glen­coe mas­sacre would have to be an an­nual event to match its body count. And it’s likely the loy­al­ists would not have it any other way. Tag­gart was first screened in 1983 and al­though the cast has changed the mur­der­ing has con­tin­ued. This episode starts with a par­tic­u­larly graphic shoot­ing, fol­lowed quickly by news of a killing that may be con­nected, and the story de­vel­ops as good cops try to work out what is go­ing on and whether there are any bad cops try­ing to stop them.

It’s not es­pe­cially hard to work out who the bad­dies are ( in­deed, it’s eas­ier than un­der­stand­ing what some of the char­ac­ters are say­ing). Fans who know the tricks of the Tag­gart trade will prob­a­bly work out who dun­nit as soon as they see all the char­ac­ters. But that is not the point: this se­ries is an in­sti­tu­tion with an ex­is­tence in­de­pen­dent of the ac­tors and prob­a­bly the peo­ple who write it.

For a start, there is no Tag­gart in Tag­gart . Mark McManus, who played the show’s epony­mous char­ac­ter, died in 1994, but rather than change the show’s name or ex­plain his ab­sence by, say, send­ing him off to Aus­tralia to in­ves­ti­gate a mur­dah on Ram­say Street, the writ­ers have ploughed on, keep­ing up the quota of killings. The se­ries’ other sig­na­ture is Glas­gow, in all its grimy glory.

The ex­ter­nal ac­tion oc­curs in lo­ca­tions that lo­cals will recog­nise and that don’t do much for Scot­land’s tourism trade. Bri­gadoon it is not.

But for all its con­sis­tency Tag­gart is no mere McBill. While The Bill is a se­rial about the cop­pers in the Sun Hill sta­tion, in the Mary­hill CID, where the Tag­gart team works, what mat­ters most is solv­ing the crime. Any­body watch­ing the show for the first time will re­alise that th­ese cop­pers have a great deal of shared his­tory, which is hardly sur­pris­ing given that some char­ac­ters have been around for more than a decade. Yet the se­ries stands on each episode’s script rather than re­ly­ing on what rusted- on fans know about who fan­cies whom.

Tag­gart does pretty well by stick­ing to a for­mula that works: ac­tors who look and sound like real peo­ple, a script that re­lies on or­di­nary peo­ple do­ing id­i­otic things. And mur­dahs.

For peo­ple who want more in their cops and killers on TV than the Blue Hills that is The Bill, or the moral­is­ing of the Law & Or­der stable, Tag­gart is the go, Jim­mie.

Corpse for a cop­per: Blythe Duff as DS Jackie Reid in Tag­gart

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.