Glasgow’s the star in this hack­neyed show

Tag­gart has a vis­ual cred­i­bil­ity that ex­ceeds the of­ten so- so scripts

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv - Tag­gart 8.30pm, ABC1 Stephen Match­ett

THE first law of re­view­ing is not to give sur­prises away, but rules were made to be bro­ken, so here’s the scoop: there are mur­ders in this episode of Tag­gart . Just as there are in ev­ery episode of a se­ries that started 25 years ago last month. And more of the same is im­mi­nent. The 10 new episodes com­mis­sioned early this year will take the Tag­gart toll past 100.

You can’t beat Tag­gart for con­sis­tency, un­less I mean rep­e­ti­tion. This episode sticks to the usual script: a bloke is mur­dered and just as the cops are sure they have the killer cold, some­body else gets knocked off.

As the mur­der squad goes about its busi­ness, they punc­tu­ate ques­tion­ing sus­pects with earnest ar­gu­ments about why good­ies turn bad and bad­dies be­come bad­der. There are also mul­ti­ple plots and deep­fried ( well, it is set in Scot­land) red her­rings.

As usual the char­ac­ters are cliches. The rich are dis­so­lute or dills. At least one vil­lain blames his un­happy child­hood. And busi­ness­men who have made a lot of money are deeply dodgy. The po­lice come in two cat­e­gories: cyn­ics who are se­cret soft­ies and do- good­ers who never lose faith in peo­ple, at least not un­til they crack un­der ques­tion­ing and ex­plain ev­ery­thing in ways that are com­pre­hen­sive, if not cred­i­ble.

If it sounds or­di­nary, it is, and yet the se­ries has run for a quar­ter of a cen­tury. Tag­gart has sur­vived longer than Re­bus , the bet­ter- writ­ten ri­val de­tec­tive se­ries set in Ed­in­burgh, can­celled ear­lier this year.

( Jim Tag­gart, the char­ac­ter, was writ­ten out in the mid- 1990s

Cop­ping the cliches: Alex Nor­ton and Blythe Duff in when the ac­tor who played him died).

In part Tag­gart ’ s pop­u­lar­ity is due to the pulp plots. Tag­gart is tra­di­tional crime writ­ing with lots of blood and no shades of grey.

The cast has some­thing to do with it, es­pe­cially Blythe Duff, who has played ( now de­tec­tive sergeant) Jackie Reid for 18 years. De­spite some ap­palling hair­cuts through the years, Duff is al­ways ex­cel­lent. While the men are the usual Bri­tish tele­vi­sion cop­pers ( sav­age, sim­ple and smar­tarse), Duff is con­vinc­ing as a woman who un­der­stands how to work with, and around, men whose egos get in the way of in­ves­ti­ga­tions ( ad­mit­tedly in tonight’s episode her gen­eros­ity over­whelms her judg­ment).

But above all, the shin­ing star of the se­ries is the city where it is set. The out­door scenes are shot on grey and gritty Glasgow streets, on the docks and in the pub­lic hous­ing es­tates. Noth­ing is tarted up for Tag­gart and the re­sult is a vis­ual cred­i­bil­ity that ex­ceeds the of­ten soso scripts.

It has to be Scot­land’s most con­sis­tent cul­tural ex­port since the deep- fried Mars bar.

Tag­gart

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