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Britain's longest-running TV crime drama gets DVD release in America

Oline H. Cogdill
Sun Sentinel (MCT)

TAGGART, Set 1. Acorn Media.

DVD three-volumes boxed set; seven episodes,

398 minutes. $49.99.

It's quite likely that even the most devoted crime-drama aficionados have only heard about the TV series "Taggart."

Seeing it is a different matter.

Especially if the viewers are American.

"Taggart" is Britain's longest-running crime drama, now entering its 26th year — making it even older than the original "Law & Order," never mind its spin-offs. "Taggart" premiered in the U.K. in September 1983.

Finally Americans can view "Taggart" with Acorn Media's DVD release of its 19th season, a three-volume set with seven episodes.

If the 19th season is any indication of the series' quality, then audiences will be eager for "Taggart's" other seasons.

"Taggart" follows a team of Glasgow police detectives as they investigate an odd assortment of crimes. Black humor and an appreciation of the Scottish setting, including its seamier side, are a "Taggart" hallmark.

Think of it as a mixture of "Homicide: Life on the Streets" and "Law & Order: Criminal Intent."

DCI Matt Burke (Alex Norton, "Braveheart"), Jackie Reid (Blythe Duff), Stuart Fraser (Colin McCredie, "Shallow Grave"), and Robbie Ross (John Michie, "To Walk With Lions") are the current team in Glasgow's murder unit.

Like "Law & Order," "Taggart" has had several turnovers in its lead cast, including the death of its title character. Detective Chief Inspector Jim Taggart was played by Mark McManus until his death in 1994. The unit was then taken over by James McPherson ad DCI Mike Jardine. Now Alex Norton leads the team as DCI Matt Burke.

Taggart also has been a revolving door for some of Britain's best theater and up-and-coming actors, just as "Law & Order" fulfills that duty in America.

The 19th season's plots are multi-layered with good twists. While the detectives are tough, they also are easy to relate to. The DVD also includes a look at the Scottish locations used.

"Taggart" is catnip for crime drama fans.

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