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The cult favorite 1970s British detective drama finally gets a US DVD release - but is it worth the wait....?
Acorn Media / 662 Minutes / 1973 / Unrated / Street Date: September 25, 2012
A talky British cop show with a seriously raspy feel, Special Branch is the kind of import 70s-loving Anglophiles go crazy for. Whether one enjoys giggling at the still-mod haircuts or shaggy costumes of the perps inspector Alan Craven and crew chase down, Special Branch provides groovy retro thrills.
Alas, as is the case with most television of this age, Special Branch: Set 1's appeal pretty much starts and ends with those who remember a fondness for it. The setup is so by-the-books that any and all freshness is completely erased from any blanket appeal - we have a seasoned inspector (George Sewell) and a fresh-out-of-school newbie (Roger Rowland) who don't always see eye to eye: have you heard that one before?
And while Acorn Media deserves a round of applause for liberating titles like this one from the archives, little to no effort has been engaged in dusting off Special Branch for its standard-def release. There's no way this early-70s British series is going to have a reference-quality sheen, of course, but there's no denying that even taking that into consideration, these episodes should look better than they do.