Judge Adam Arseneau is still very concerned about children on his lawn!
Our reviews of New Tricks: Season One (published October 12th, 2009), New Tricks: Season Four (published May 18th, 2011), New Tricks: Season Five (published September 8th, 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), and New Tricks: Season Three (published February 9th, 2011) are also available.
What's wrong with detective work the old fashioned way?
Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? New Tricks returns for a second series on DVD, with the same rock-solid procedural police drama by way of geriatric care. It's like a strangely enjoyable Cold Case acted out by the cast of a retirement home.
Facts of the Case
New Tricks returns audiences to UCOS, the unsolved crimes team, lead by career cop Sandra Pullman (Amanda Redman, Little Dorritt). Having navigated herself into a slightly dead-end assignment, using retired or formally disgraced officers as civilian contractors to run down cold cases, Sandra grits her teeth and makes the best of a bad assignment—by turning out surprisingly solid police work, often to the embarrassment of the brass.
Pullman's crew consists of grieving widower Jack Halford (James Bolam, Born and Bred), obsessive/compulsive ex-Inspector Brian Lane (Alun Armstrong, Little Dorrit), and ex-Sergeant Gerry Standing (Dennis Waterman, The Sweeney). They all have a wealth of experience, but times have changed, and this trio of eccentric dinosaurs soon discovers that the game is no longer what it used to be!
New Tricks: Season Two contains all eight episodes from the second series of the show, spread across three discs.
The BBC know their police procedural dramas, and they know their comedies, but it's rare to see both come together. New Tricks is hardly the most gritty or realistic cop drama, or the most edgy and groundbreaking comedy, but it blends both elements together so effortlessly as to be admirable. This isn't a show that tries to push the envelope, or traverse new boundaries, just a lighthearted comedy cop drama chocked to the brim with senior citizens.
The aged element is a gimmick to be sure, but it brings a certain amount of originality to the franchise that no other show really has. The old-school retired officers are a colorful cast of cards, cantankerous and curmudgeonly, with a rough-and-tumble fisticuff style of investigation. Forget technology or lawyers or DNA evidence—they'd rather just get a suspect in the box and rough them up, if their backs didn't ache so. Their boss, Sandra brings the modern techniques to bear on cold cases, and the combination of gumption and science cracks the most complex of cases wide open.
The comedy is light and kind of silly, with Lane, Standing and Halford getting into shoving matches, farting in cars and generally being old. It's funny, because they're old! And grumpy! The saving grace of the show is that the procedural dramas are correct and top-notch, with twisting narratives and well-plotted resolutions on par with the finest of legitimate cop dramas. Were this not the case, perhaps it would be a lot easier to dismiss New Tricks out of hand.
Presented in an anamorphic transfer, the technical presentation is extremely similar to the previous offering in New Tricks: Season One: a dark, muted, grainy and soft appearance with plenty of noise and artifacts. For a cop drama, it works in a stylish sort of way. Audio comes in a simple stereo presentation, with a jazzy, light and upbeat score. Dialogue is clear and bass response is average. English subtitles are included, but there are no extras on this set.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
New Tricks has a demographic (the show is now in its seventh series in the UK), but it's a bit tricky to define the charm of the show when describing to others. Call it a rare and honest case of a show being better as the sum of its parts. If you try and judge the show on the basis of its comedy, New Tricks is pretty weak. If you try and judge the show on the basis of its storytelling and procedural drama, New Tricks can hold its own, but more grittier and hard-hitting shows would simply eat it for lunch. It works as a weird amalgamation of comedy and drama, of old and young, but only if you don't think about it too much.
If you enjoyed Season One, you'll like this second season. It's more of the same light, silly comedy and solid cop mystery tales.
Not guilty. Seriously though, get off my lawn.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: BBC Video
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