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Case Number 22233

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New Tricks: Season Five

Acorn Media // 2008 // 467 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // September 8th, 2011

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Around Appellate Judge James A. Stewart, dogs always seem to learn how to mooch.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of New Tricks: Season One (published October 12th, 2009), New Tricks: Season Two (published February 4th, 2010), New Tricks: Season Four (published May 18th, 2011), New Tricks: Season Six (published January 12th, 2012), New Tricks: Season Seven (published May 24th, 2012), New Tricks: Season Eight (published September 20th, 2012), New Tricks: Season Nine (published June 15th, 2013), New Tricks: Season Ten (published July 1st, 2014), New Tricks: Season 12 (published May 20th, 2016), and New Tricks: Season Three (published February 9th, 2011) are also available.

The Charge

"Isn't that what we're meant to be about—lost causes the rest of the Met won't touch?"—Brian Lane

Opening Statement

In New Tricks: Season Five, London's Unsolved Crime and Open Case Squad (UCOS) even has a rough time finding a member of their own team who has disappeared (I'll try not to spoil it, but there's a chance that fans of the show might guess, if they don't already know).

They also deal with a lot of personal problems, as Jack (James Bolam, The Beiderbecke Affair) confronts his wife's killer, Sandra (Amanda Redman, Demob) looks into her cop father's personal disgrace, Gerry (Dennis Waterman, Minder) has a falling out with the woman who may be his daughter (Hannah Waterman, Dennis Waterman's real-life daughter), and Brian (Alun Armstrong, The Mummy) starts to waver in his teetotaling.

Facts of the Case

New Tricks: Season Five features eight episodes on three discs:

Disc One
• "Spare Parts"—Jack faces his wife's killer in court, but the man (David Troughton) is only up on an assault charge. Meanwhile, UCOS investigates the recipients of a dead woman's organs as they reopen her father's death.

• "Final Curtain"—The UCOS team must cope with an absence while investigating a death on stage with a prop gun. Meanwhile, Sandra faces a birthday without plans.

• "A Face for Radio"—Brian befriends a shy man while UCOS investigates an arson that claimed the life of a radio talk show host.

Disc Two
• "Loyalties and Royalties"—The presumed suicide of a rock musician may be murder; Jack discovers the man cleaned out his bank account just before his death. Meanwhile, Gerry takes on a singing gig. One of the key witnesses is a scarf-wearing drug dealer known as "The Doctor."

• "Couldn't Organise One"—Sandra tackles the mystery surrounding her father while UCOS investigates the case of an assistant brewer who drowned in a vat of beer. Gerry and Jack do much sampling while on the case.

• "Magic Majestic"—Brian takes on the cause of a woman hypnotized at a magic show who killed her husband afterwards. Gerry and Brian fall under magicians' spells as they investigate.

Disc Three
• "Communal Living"—The mother of a murdered young man brings in a woman who recognized her son in the flyers. UCOS heads for a commune to investigate, and Brian decides he might just stay.

• "Mad Dogs"—UCOS runs afoul of MI-5 while investigating the murder of a gay soldier. It turns out that the memory gaps that his fellow soldiers had are genuine, thanks to some drug experiments. Phyllis Logan (Lovejoy) guests.

The Evidence

Aside from creating tension, the opener serves as a clever way of reacquainting viewers with the imperfect lives of the main characters. The defense lawyer in the assault case attacks the credibility of the team members by confronting them: Brian's medications and past alcoholism, Gerry's affair and possible daughter, and Jack's conversations with his wife's ashes are all aired on the stand. He also brings up the questions of whether Sandra really trusts Jack. From this starting point, each of the characters gets at least a small dramatic moment. There's still a case each week, but don't expect the emphasis to be on mystery.

Interestingly, Brian—even as he's struggling with alcoholism—turns out to be stronger as an advocate, taking at least two of the cases as his personal missions and defusing a bad situation in another episode. Alun Armstrong, who as Brian has often been the comic relief, gets the most to do this season. His longing glances at alcohol create a sense of foreboding throughout the season and even his tangle with a hypnotist ties into that battle. Even as he struggles, though, his weakness turns out to be a strength as he bonds with witnesses and keeps digging on the "lost causes" the UCOS team tackles.

With all the personal crises, the show's humor is subdued but still present. One of my favorite comic moments of the season was Jack's discovery that he's good at video games. Somehow, though, the season doesn't turn into a downer until the cliffhanger ending.

Picture and sound quality are good for the recent production.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

One of the weirdest habits of New Tricks is leaving closing gags—and, in one case, a dramatic confrontation—to the imagination, rolling credits as you might expect a punchline or a dramatic moment.

I wouldn't recommend watching the behind-the-scenes feature if you haven't already watched the episodes; it does reveal who disappears during the season.

Closing Statement

If the characters of New Tricks have already grown on you, you'll like Season Five. If you haven't seen the show, I wouldn't think this would a good place to start.

The Verdict

Not guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 90
Audio: 90
Extras: 60
Acting: 95
Story: 90
Judgment: 90

Perp Profile

Studio: Acorn Media
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• English (SDH)
Running Time: 467 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Comedy
• Drama
• Foreign
• Mystery
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Featurette


• IMDb

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