When’s it out?
New Tricks Series 9 is available now on DVD, and arrives on Blu-Ray on Monday November 26th.
Who’s in it?
Dennis Waterman, Alun Armstrong, Amanda Redman, Susan Jameson, Anthony Calf and James Bolam.
What’s it about?
DSI Sandra Pullman (Amanda Redman) is the head of a fictional police department called the UCOS – definitely not UCOCS, Ok – which is short for Unsolved Crime and Open Case Squad. Comprised entirely of retired (and frequently eccentric) police officers, the division focuses solely on the reinvestigation of unsolved crimes.
What’s it like?
Co-created by one of the writers behind the very popular BBC thriller Silent Witness, New Tricks is a much lighter and more upbeat affair than that program, but it’s just as obsessed with the details. The central squad delve into all manner of different cases – some of them quite ridiculous – but the show never forgets that its main focus is police procedure and detective work, and the laughs that sometimes ensue are not cheap ones.
Star of the show?
The central cast are all excellent (as ever) but James Bolam – who plays the softly-spoken Jack Halford – bows out of the series after the opening episode and will be very much missed. That said, our favourite character is probably British intelligence official Simon Fisher, played to perfection by Tim McInnerny, who is still probably best known for starring as Captain Darling in Blackadder Goes Forth. He’s a self-obsessed and permanently rude pain-in-the-neck, but somehow loveable with it.
Series 9 opens with Jack leaving the country for France, but that doesn’t qualify as much of a surprise because his departure was announced at the end of the previous season. However, it’s a surprise to see just how ably Jack’s spot is filled by the straight-laced and ever-optimistic Steve McAndrews, who’s played by Holby City regular Denis Lawson. To the writers’ credit he’s not merely a clone of Jack but a completely new character, and this series feels fresher because of it. Aside from that, the twist in the final episode is an absolute cracker.
There are several very strong new episodes here, but our favourite involves a mysterious suicide, a very competitive family and an up-and-coming tennis star named Alice. Oh, and Alexei Sayle. And the perils of working your way up the ladder as a celebrity dog.
Some fans were worried that James Bolam’s departure at the start of series nine would signal a decline in the quality of New Tricks, but there are some great episodes here. On average there are less scenes of the cast idly bantering compared to previous runs, but these cases are interesting enough to warrant the shift in pacing. Of the nine, it’s also the best-looking series to date (by far) and is definitely best enjoyed on Blu-Ray if that’s an option. Series 9 of New Tricks doesn’t quite reach the same brilliant heights as the show did in series 4 or 5 – when the show was truly at its peak, with Ricky Hanson as its charismatic chief villain – but there is plenty of life left in this old hound yet.
– Reviewed by Jane Flannagan