Acorn Media // 2007 // 461 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart // May 18th, 2011
Gerry Standing: "We've got a new case -- two."
Guv Sandra Pullman: "I turn my back for one minute."
The Unsolved Crime and Special Case Squad finds cases just about everywhere in New Tricks: Season Four; the two cases Gerry's talking about came when colleague Brian Lane was just out walking his dog. First, though, the team must deal with a reckless action by one of its members.
New Tricks: Season Four has eight episodes on three discs:
* Injuries from a car wreck put Gerry (Dennis Waterman, Minder), Jack (James Bolam, The Beiderbecke Tapes), Brian (Alun Armstrong, The Mummy), and Sandra (Amanda Redman, Demob) in the hospital, where they hear about three mysterious deaths in the room that the boys are sharing.
* Sandra and her mother hear about a suicide that may have been murder while touring a retirement home. Jack goes undercover as a resident. Brian recovers a long-ago stolen bike and promptly takes a tumble while chasing a suspect.
* A van found underwater jump-starts murder and missing persons inquiries. Brian considers taking up diving, but it's Sandra who goes into the deep.
* Jack's about to sign his new will when a man bursts in to his lawyer's office, announcing the death of a cat. The feline fatality reopens the case of an elderly woman whose body was partially eaten by her cats. Brian falls while walking his dog.
* Fivers found in a remodeling job reopen a murder investigation, and lead to a fresh murder. Gerry becomes friends with the daughter of the wrongfully hanged man. Brian puts his foot through a floor. George Cole, Dennis Waterman's Minder partner, guests.
* When Brian's dog uncovers human bones, Brian gets tips on two possible murders. The team pursues the cases, even though the bones were around six hundred years old and there's an audit looming. Brian befriends a professor (Selina Cadell, Doc Martin). Gerry tumbles down a flight of stairs.
* When a camera stolen in a photo studio robbery and murder is found, the team tries to find out what the killer was looking for. Sandra takes an interest in art -- or at least in an artist. Brian's depressed when he realizes he wasn't in his son's childhood pictures.
* The team investigates the spontaneous combustion of a circus owner. Sandra's mom has a stroke, which leads to shocking news and a confrontation between Jack and Sandra. Jack is burned during an act of heroism. Ian McNeice (Doc Martin) guests.
Half of the cases are reopened by outright coincidence, but New Tricks manages to maintain its delicate balance of intricate cases mixed with comedic and dramatic situations in the lives of the four detectives. The season starts with the team in the hospital, and I've made note of the various falls and mishaps (this season seems heavy on them) in the episode descriptions.
James Bolam as Jack Halford takes key dramatic roles in the season's opener and closer. Jack might have finally come to terms with the death of his wife Mary, although he's still seen talking to her once. That leaves Amanda Redman as Sandra Pullman to deal with loss, as her mother's illness shines new light on her father's death. The normally business-minded chief of U.C.O.S. falls apart in the finale, giving Redman a dramatic opportunity. Alun Armstrong's Brian Lane, who usually provides comic relief, gets a couple of more serious moments, dealing with depression and finding a friend in a lonely female professor. Dennis Waterman as Gerry Standing mostly gets to be grumpy this season, although he does help Brian with his depression.
Everyone involved gets some funny dialogue, but Alun Armstrong gets most of the silly plotlines. The funniest are Brian's efforts to be less boring and rein in his rambles on topics ranging from van construction to the Battersea power station and a misunderstanding in which he's trying to talk his wife into taking up diving with him, but she thinks he's talking sex.
It's a recent show, so picture and sound quality are up-to-date.
New Tricks isn't bad, but its stories can feel a bit familiar. Do you really need one more cop show in your collection?
The last collection had interviews, but this set only has cast filmographies.
The detection remains solid, but the stories in New Tricks: Season Four focus on the characters a little more than in the previous season. Sandra's family issues and other personal matters of the team take up more screen time.
It's a solid show, and it'll even give you something to think about when walking the dog.
Not guilty. If only they could bring the killer of the six-hundred-year-old woman to justice...
Review content copyright © 2011 James A. Stewart; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Acorn Media
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 461 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated