56 of 61 people found the following review helpful
Waterman and co. back to their old tricks.,
This review is from: New Tricks: Season 1 (DVD)
UCOS - The Unsolved Crime and Open Case Squad is a rag tag, elder bunch of ex-cops who are assembled by the recently demoted DS Pullman, played by Amanda Redman. She had a bust go bad where she accidentally shot a dog, and suddenly she finds herself leading this team of cops whose best years are far behind them. All of her 3 re-hires left the police for various reasons and each has their own share of personal and emotional issues they are dealing with. For Pullman, she is constantly trying to balance her career and finding the time to continually hit the dating scene in her 40's. Handling the stubborn and erratic personalities of her new team is another challenge.
Jack Halford (played by James Bolam) is the only member who left the police force on amicable terms, having retired as a D.C. Superintendent. He is forever haunted by the hit and run accident that claimed his wife. He seems to be the oldest, but also the clearest thinker of the squad.
Brian Lane (played by Alun Armstrong) is an ex Detective Inspector who was sacked for having someone die while in his custody, which he strongly felt was not his fault. He's sort of a pill popping, memory machine with OCD who memorized everyone's resume who has ever worked at Scotland Yard. Also, if you ask him what he was doing on July 19th, 1978, he'll remember.
My favorite of the bunch, and what drew me to find this show in the first place is the star of numerous popular UK shows over the years, including the highly popular Sweeney and Minder series, Dennis Waterman. It seems he always plays a ladies' man in every series, and this one is no exception. You will usually find him hitting on his boss, being pursued by ex-flames, or eyeing the multitude of women he encounters during his cases.
Waterman's character Gerry Standing, although no longer performing his legendary fisticuffs as he did in Minder and Sweeney, still manages to pull some punches with his sharp tongue and wit. He was fired for breaking his superior's jaw, a Commisioner Bevan, who just so happens to be UCOS's supervisor, so you can imagine the interaction just waiting to happen there. A classic Waterman highlight is when the crew is reviewing film of a late 60's protest for a case and he jumps up, all serious-like and says, "ey, wait". Then pauses the video only to point at a girl in the crowd and say, "I had her".
After a rather long 90 minute pilot, once you get into normal episodes, they are strong from start to finish. Unlike US TV shows, where going back and viewing the first 5 or 6 shows can sometimes look awkward; and actors don't really find their niche in their character, sometimes up until the 2nd season; this superb gang of British vets really nail their characters right out of the gate. I felt the pilot was merely a preview of what was to come, and it certainly doesn't play like the rest of the episodes do in the series (they are much better). I was almost ready to write the series off after the pilot, but I'm glad I didn't.
One other fine character is PC Clark, played by Chike Okonkwo. In this first series, he is the low on the totem pole, young police constable, who really offsets all the older characters. He was always eager to help out and offer his young viewpoint and detective skills to the team. I feel this will be a slight negative not seeing him reappear in later shows, as his character does not return for series 2. A minor setback to an otherwise strong and entertaining British show.
While following that TV crime solving mold, it still manages to have that certain appeal that US shows simply do not have. It's also great to see one of my favorite actors, Dennis Waterman, still holding his own after 4 decades. He also sings the show's theme song (a staple for shows he's starred in over the years) and a cover of the Traveling Wilbury's End Of The Line in one of the episodes.
It's surprising to see this as a US DVD release, because as far as I know, this only appeared on some PBS channels in certain parts of the country, and I haven't seen it on any cable channels (maybe BBC America at one time?). I think it's high ratings in it's later seasons in the UK have warranted a US "trial". I say trial as in they release a first season, and only subsequent sets come out if sales are good. However, even The Sweeney hasn't had a series 2 release in the US yet, so I presume there's a slim chance of all 5 later series of New Tricks getting released here, but you never know. I'll just have to continue ordering the Region 2 series sets. Series 6 aired in July in the UK with a DVD release scheduled for Sept. '09.
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Initial post: Oct 4, 2011 7:25:06 AM PDT
Ralph L. Seifer says:
I saw the pilot last night on Channel 28 here in Los Angeles. While I'm not a fan of cop shows, I found this one to be 100% enjoyable, and even a touch credible. Urbane and funny. Ralph L. Seifer, Long Beach, California.
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