This review contains spoilers.
'Cover Story' is definitely one of my lesser favourite episodes of 'The Sweeney'. Although I appreciate (and like) that they were going for something a bit different to the standard cops-and-robbers weekly fare, it doesn't really do all that much for me. But even weaker 'Sweeney' is still good 'Sweeney', and this one still definitely has its moments.
Prunella Gee plays journalist Sandy in almost Joanna Lumley-like fashion, down to mannerisms and even way of speaking. Sandy is certainly a quirky character, and for a one-off guest shot, Gee does well in the role.
The plot I suppose is fair (and as I say above, I can appreciate that they were aiming for something a little different with this one), but it is definitely not one of my favourites, and I found the middle act a little dragged and uninteresting in places.
Although it's not something that 'The Sweeney' normally did (or needed), I felt that this story could maybe have done with a b-plot, to beef things out a little. If nothing else, maybe more background could have been given to the missing swag, as I found this whole element of the tale a bit fuzzy and unclear in places.
Either way, things do pick up for the last act, first with a great scene(s) of George interrogating Sandy in the interview room; and then with Jack – fallen out with Sandy and taken off the case – going on a drunken bender; not to mention George, determined to find out once and for all if Sandy was set up or not, getting a real pasting from the true villains.
The end is also quite strong, and whether you like this episode or not, one can't help but admire the tragic love story they attempted to pull off.
In all, this may actually rank amongst my least favourite episodes of 'The Sweeney' (certainly in terms of the first three series). But as I say at the top, even weaker 'Sweeney' has some saving merits. I was originally going to give this episode a lower than usual 6.5; the strong final act raises this slightly to a 7.moreless