New Tricks #11 (2015)

 

Produced by: Wall to Wall Television.

Created by: Roy Mitchell and Nigel McCrery.

Directors: Andy Hay, Philip John, Julian Simpson, Brian Grant, and Keith Boak.

Writers: Simon Allen, Marston Bloom, Chloe Moss, Matt Evans, Julian Simpson, Dan Muirden, Richard Davidson and Roy Mitchell (creator).

Cast: Denis Lawson, Nicholas Lyndhurst, Tamzin Outhwaite, Dennis Waterman, Anthony Calf,  Storme Toolis…

Runtime: aprox. one hour each episode

Genres: Modern British TV Crime drama (on-going series)

 

Reviewed by Cherie Jung
(May, 2015)

 

New Tricks Series #11, recently released on DVD in the U.S., continues to charm viewers at times, but a bit less with each passing series. In previous reviews I wondered how the series would fair when it lost first one then three of its four primary characters. Initially there was a scrappy “us vs. them” attitude amongst the original characters – three retired cops who had returned to work on a special squad dubbed UCOS (Unsolved Crimes and Open Case Squad). Their boss, Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman (Amanda Redman), was scrappy too. She had something to prove; both to her superiors and to herself.

The current UCOS team includes Gerry Standing (Dennis Waterman), Steve McAndrew (Denis  Lawson) – who replaced the Jack Halford (James Bolam) character, Danny Griffin (Nicholas Lyndhurst) – who replaced the Brian Lane (Alun Armstrong) character, and Tamzin Outhwaite – who replaced Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman (Amanda Redmen).

In too many of the cold cases in this series I have no interest in the case, the victim, or the suspects. The dynamics of the UCOS team have changed and not for the better. The petty bickering between the team members seems often to be mean and spiteful and grows tedious rather quickly. However, there are still delightful moments tucked here and there which makes the series watchable and to a certain extent, enjoyable. You just have to wade through a lot of misery to get there.

There are 10 episodes in Series #11.

“Bermondsey Boy” – Gerry is approached by a boyhood friend who became a career criminal who wants Gerry’s help in finding out if his grandson was murdered by his former partner in crime.

“Tender Loving Care” – A young doctor in training was murdered after leaving a popular nightclub. The team is tasked with finding her killer. One possible suspect is an unidentified man who may have been stalking her.

“Deep Swimming” – An anonymous note to an activist indicates her father was not the terrorist she believes him to be but that he was murdered.

“Ghosts” – An elderly woman with dementia wanders into a police station to report the murder of her husband decades after he disappeared.

“London Underground” – A witness in a 20 year old murder case becomes a victim himself and the team is tasked with re-investigating the original, unsolved murder of a gay artist because the cases may be linked somehow.

“Romans Ruined” – The discovery of a replica Roman sword stolen from a body-builder who died from a heart attack leads the team to a head in a fridge in a lock-up owned by the deceased. It also matches the decapitated and naked body of an unsolved murder.

“In Vino Veritas” – An illegal Turkish immigrant is caught and detained. She worked as a barmaid in a pub but disappeared the night her boss’s body was found in the burned out cellar of the pub.

“The English Defence” – DNA links a teenager to the death of a woman who was murdered before he was even born. The victim was an avid chess player and worked as an interpreter for various foreign embassies in London.

“Breadcrumbs” – A librarian is murdered, most likely because of her interest in researching cold cases and blogging about them on the Internet. Though the current murder squad members think that assertion is rather fanciful, the victim was an acquaintance of Danny’s and he pushes the UCOS team to figure out what she was investigating just prior to her death. They soon link her activities to a case that was solved but they consider she may have found irregularities in the case that led to her death.

“The Queen’s Speech” – A young girl goes to an end-of-term school party and dies at the foot of some concrete steps. Her neck was broken. Thirty some years later a time capsule is accidentally unearthed. Inside is a tape recording contributed by the now dead girl in which she expresses fear of someone named Alec. The UCOS team try to discover who Alec is/was and why Amy was so frightened right before she died.

 

In this lot, I think “London Underground” is the strongest, but then I think most of the episodes throughout the various seasons written and directed by Julian Simpson are outstanding. I especially like two episodes that feature Tim McInnery as the arrogant, highly placed civil servant/slime ball Steven Fisher – “A Death in the Family” (2012) and “Part of a Whole” (2012).

In Series #11, “Ghost,” “The English Defence,” “Breadcrumbs,” and “The Queen’s Speech” were also fairly strong episodes.

Sad to say, the original premise of this series and the chemistry of the original cast have dissipated over time. I do enjoy newcomers Denis Lawson and Nicholas Lyndhurst immensely (Tamzin Outhwaite, not so much. Blonde uber-bitch has already been done by Amanda Redman) but the writing for their characters is uneven. When their dialogue is spot on, it’s a joy to watch. When it tumbles into bitching and moaning it becomes nearly unbearable to watch.

I blame the writers. New Tricks has devolved into just another crime show with cops who have too many personal problems.

 

Now I feel almost like I’m writing an obituary. It has been widely announced that Dennis Waterman is leaving the series – he’ll only appear in two episodes from Series #12 – and that the series itself will end with #12.

I’ve grown attached to the “old boys” or as DCI Sasha Miller refers to her colleagues, “my old boys.” I will miss them… but I will have 12 “seasons,” as we U.S. viewers like to call them, ready and waiting on DVD for repeat viewings. Thank goodness for DVDs!


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