New Tricks: Series 3

New Tricks: Series 3


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Nostalgia is a potent ingredient in the battle for ratings. Who can resist a loveable rogue, or an eccentric obsessive in a beanie, especially when you know them in another life? New Tricks brings together the talents from past classic TV series in an ingenious concept that hardly bears scrutiny in the real world.

UCOS (The Unsolved Crime And Open Case Squad) employs three retired policemen, headed by Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman (Amanda Redman), who bring unconventional and decidedly old fashioned methods to bear on cases that have never been closed. These include a trade union leader drowned in the Thames 30 years ago, an East End gangster returning from the Costa del Crime with his dead dad in a coffin, the 10 year old murder of a librarian involving witchcraft, an unsolved bank job incriminating a bent copper and a local villain turned best selling author, ice cream wars with their lethal family squabbles and a wrongly prosecuted arsonist sent down for attempted murder.

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The plots improve as Series 3 progresses, but it is not so much the complexities of the story lines that hold your attention as the personal idiosyncrasies of the characters. Unlike other cop shows the private lives of these protagonists are open to scrutiny, which adds depth, humour and sympathy.

Gerry Standing (Dennis Waterman) is not as autocratic as Gene Hunt in Life On Mars, but cut from the same cloth, a no-questions-asked, womanizing, unrepentant scallywag, who seems to know all the villains on the manor personally, and has a cheekily flirtatious relationship with the boss, DS Pullman. A sub plot involving a young woman claiming to be his illegitimate daughter brings out the worst and the best in him. Waterman’s new teeth are disconcerting at first, but soon this tailor made role fits so well he settles naturally into the groove with effortless ease.

Jack Halford (James Bolam) is a bit left out in the earlier episodes, but comes fiercely back in the later ones. His wife was killed in a gang related hit-and-run and he talks to her grave, which has tongues wagging as if Alzheimer’s is only a forgotten telephone number away. But this proves premature, as his tenacious spirit reaffirms itself with a vengeance when he comes face to face with his wife's killer. Bolam is too much of an old pro to let a part like this flip by without giving it welly, however curmudgeonly he may appear at times.

Brian Lane (Alun Armstrong) is the technical whiz, a passionate collector of toy soldiers and all round enthusiast. A recovering alcoholic who tends to forget his medication once engrossed in the minutiae of a case, his eccentricity and negligible dress sense gives the series its particular style and Armstrong takes full advantage, with Susan Jameson, as his long suffering wife Esther, adding greatly to the team effort.

DS Pullman, despite her blonde femininity, is no pushover and keeps the boys well in check. Redman is ideally cast, having the sex appeal to kick start a mid-life crisis and the authority to stimulate a masochist’s wet dream.

Reviewed on: 05 Jun 2007
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New Tricks: Series 3 packshot
Ex coppers solve shelved crimes with panache and old fashioned eccentricity.
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Director: Rob Evans, Juliet May, Roberto Bangura

Writer: Roy Mitchell, Nigel McCrery, Lisa Holdsworth, John Wilsher, Steve Coombes, Jaquetta May, John Johnson

Starring: Amanda Redman, Dennis Waterman, Alun Armstrong, James Bolam, Susan Jameson, Anthony Strickland, Natalie Forbes, Heather James, Carolyn Allen, Jodie Kelly, Diana Kent, Paula Jennings, David Troughton, Hannah Waterman

Year: 2006

Runtime: 467 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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