My love for detective/mystery dramas/shows has been nearly lifelong, and have always admired that a wide range of tones are encompassed, from light-hearted to quite brutal. 'Taggart' was in its prime one of the finer examples of the grittier kind, and although it has been one of my most regularly watched shows settling down in the evenings, that is not to say that it isn't immune from criticism.
Have said quite a few times about preferring the early/mid-run 'Taggart' episodes, so the consistently solid Mark McManus/Taggart period, which there were a fair share of great episodes with even some interesting early appearances from some guest actors, and most of the James MacPherson/Jardine episodes (with a few exceptions like the bizarre "Apocalypse"). Was less taken with the later Burke episodes, although it was the Burke episodes that introduced me to 'Taggart', with its regular runs on ITV some years ago, the episodes generally aren't as good where they suffered from the shorter lengths as well as not being gritty enough and running out of ideas and surprises.
"Ghost Rider" is neither among the best or worst Jardine era episodes, and the same goes for 'Taggart' overall. Also did find it a reasonably good episode and much better than the surprisingly low rating it has as of now, which may seem to indicate to some that it is one of the show's worst episodes. It is not.
Will agree that a little tiredness shows here, there is not much new here other than the tension between the two stations and the pace sags at times.
Some of "Ghost Rider" later on gets a touch convoluted as more and more things are revealed, with a lot of information thrown with not always enough time to digest.
On the other hand, the good things are a great many. As always for 'Taggart', "Ghost Rider" looks great visually. have always loved the gritty, like-a-character-of-its-own Scottish setting, the moody colour pallette that adds to the grit and the slick photography. The music fits well and doesn't intrude or feel dull, while the theme song is not one to forget and the episode is solidly directed. The acting is without fault, with MacPherson and Blythe Duff being very strong as expected, as is their chemistry which was always part of the charm of the Jardine-era episodes, while Robert Robertson steals his scenes. The supporting cast are all strong.
Always intriguing is the writing, it provokes thought too and while a serious episode it doesn't take itself overly seriously too much. The story is deliberate but still engrossing, even if some of the pacing could have been more consistent. There are lots of twists and turns (not all surprising mind but it's not a predictable episode by all means), the police tension doesn't become cartoonish and the ending is one one does not see coming at all and is genuinely shocking. Do like how the team work, their rapport and how they go about solving the case, that has always been one of the key reasons as to why prime-'Taggart' works so well.
In summation, not a bad episode at all but not the best (or worst) of 'Taggart'. 7/10
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