Target is one of those legendary series of UK television, legendary because nobody has seen it since it was broadcast. Legend has it it was the BBC's answer to the popularity of ITV shows like The Sweeney and The Professionals. It followed a similar formula and perhaps overdid the violence because after a record number of complaints it was pulled after only two series. Basically if you like the other shows you should like Target. I do.
The shows still exist and I have bought series 1 from here. If you send the guy an email he invoices you by email and you pay by PayPal. What you get is three printed DVDs in cardboard sleeves. They have menus but otherwise there's nothing fancy and that's fine by me. Picture quality is acceptable in my opinion, but as usual don't expect HD from a show of this age.
The series uses the by then reliable formula of a particular specialist branch of the police, in this case the Regional Crime Squad of Southampton. It uses the familiar device of the genre of being hard as nails, with some quite graphic violence for the time. When I have written about 1970s shows in the past, I have written about the corrupt reputation of the police of the time, and Target has made me reflect that it's not really any surprise if the police leant on people too heavily when they were pretty much their own closed world. The world depicted in Target is tough all round and clearly creates the sort of environment where police can round up six random Irishmen for the events of 21st November 1974. This is not so much a procedural as a get-by-however-you-can.
At this length of time Target is a visual delight. Those of us who remember the seventies as happy times will reminisce and yet laugh at the same time. The cars are wonderful, the clothes are ridiculous, you can smell the cigarette smoke.
I have just one criticism which is only in light of the comparison with similar shows. The others all rely on two lead characters, and the tension between them. Target makes the mistake of having four people in the team which makes the lead a bit diffused, but in practice Patrick Mower tends to be the strongest character. I'm not sure if that was how it was meant to be - reliable evidence about this show is almost entirely lacking. The actors include a lot of familiar faces in the manner of the time.
It also has doms surprises. I have only just started watching but I am surprised by an almost complete absence of sex in a show of this time. The word that comes to mind is businesslike. I suspect this may touch on the BBC/ITV division, where the BBC was worthy and independent TV was frivolous - exactly the issue in my recent Danger Man post about pirate radio. Target feels more like a worthy drama than the entertainment provided by the Other Side. However this is a personal impression obviously.
But the absolute best thing about Target is the theme, so I'll finish with that: