Appellate Judge James A. Stewart was retro before he was born.
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 Five (published September 8th, 2011), New Tricks: Season Six (published January 12th, 2012), New Tricks: Season Eight (published September 20th, 2012), and New Tricks: Season Three (published February 9th, 2011) are also available.
"I'm retro—and proud of it."—Gerry Standing
As Gerry Standing, Dennis Waterman (Minder) isn't just proud of being retro; he's very good at it. Acorn Media is releasing New Tricks: Season Seven, and they're still a season or two behind. That's quite a track record.
New Tricks finds Det. Supt. Sandra Pullman (Amanda Redman, Demob) leading three veteran detectives into the London Metropolitan Police files to see if they can spot any new angles. Her "boys" are played by three veteran British actors: Waterman, James Bolam (The Beiderbecke Tapes), and Alun Armstrong (The Mummy).
Facts of the Case
New Tricks: Season Seven features ten episodes on three discs:
• "Good Morning Lemmings"—Someone's spraying graffiti that confesses to a famous graffiti artist's murder, so the UCOS team looks up his old crew. Meanwhile, Brian's tweets turn out to be an unpop art with the rest of his crew. Simon MacCorkindale (Counterstrike) guests.
• "It Smells of Books"—Brian (Alun Armstrong) heads into the stacks for some quiet reading, but when a check of old files reveals that an alleged suicide checked out a lot of library books just before his death, Brian's reading list could catch a killer.
• "Coming Out Ball"—A former Irish terrorist running for Parliament asks UCOS to reopen a kidnapping his group took credit for. Meanwhile, Sandra runs into an old friend and gets invited to a class reunion, which she doesn't want to attend.
• "Fashion Victim"—The first wife of a fashion designer wants UCOS to reopen the case of his stabbing death. She also wants Gerry to reopen the case of his rather cop-like wardrobe.
• "Left Field"—Sandra knows the confession in a child abduction case is phony, but she reopens the case anyway. The trail leads to a protest march and MI-5, which leads Brian to think that the spies are watching him. Samantha Bond guests.
• "Where There's Smoke"—As they investigate a suspicious fire that killed four people, Jack (James Bolam) gives a public lecture on serial killers and Brian takes an interest in condoms (which has something to do with the case, actually). The boys end up trapped in a blaze.
• "The Fourth Man"—The discovery of the Jaguar used as a getaway car in a bond theft reopens the case—once UCOS buys the car at auction. The UCOS team could find themselves "expendable" when their investigation suggests police corruption. John Shrapnel (Gladiator) guests.
The big surprise in New Tricks: Season Seven is that it doesn't try to end with a shocker. I've been watching these episodes in the midst of the spring cliffhanger season, and New Tricks has pulled a few tricks in their season enders in the past (Could Jack be a murderer? Could recovering alcoholic Brian go back on the bottle?). This time, Gerry's going off for a drink with a mate, and the only question is whether he'll have a hangover in the morning (probably yes).
The season is also rather low on personal dilemmas. Sandra debates reopening relations with a long-lost brother, and Jack makes a tricky ethical decision to get an informant talking. However, neither of these becomes an ongoing thread through the stories as in past seasons.
As usual, New Tricks: Season Seven blends investigations into cold cases that unearth a lot of sordid secrets with a lot of schtick. Most of that schtick centers around Alun Armstrong's Brian Lane, who tweets noir ("It feels like the calm before the storm. But I know I'll be kicking down doors before long."), screams for silence in a library, angering both the security folks and his resigned wife Esther (Susan Jameson, International Velvet), and can't keep quiet during Jack's lecture. Dennis Waterman's Gerry gets a funny bit setting off a smoke alarm, but Armstrong seems to have firmly taken over the comic relief position.
The behind-the-scenes feature this time out is a good one, concentrating on one key scene: the arson fire that traps Jack, Gerry, and Brian in a burning house. There's also a blooper feature, with the cast making mistakes and breaking into laughter.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
New Tricks has a good cast—no, make that a great cast—but it's often just another police procedural, especially in a season with no major character arcs. If you're not into CSI or Law and Order, it could be plodding at times, even with the comic relief and the likable stars.
New Tricks seems to have settled into a routine, but if you've seen past seasons, Season Seven will still be entertaining. I watched three a night for this review, and they went down well. There's nothing flashy here, but the cast clicks well, even when Alun Armstrong gets more than his share of the gags.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Acorn Media
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