Roisin Muldoon considers the latest from UCOS…
I have long been promising to write a guest blog for Nic on the subject of one of my favourite detective dramas, New Tricks. As series 7 came to a close last Friday night, I thought it time to finally make good on my promise and so I present to you an overview of series 7. It isn’t fashionable to like New Tricks, but I love it. In my house my collection of New Tricks boxed sets sits proudly next to more respected shows such as The Wire or Mad Men.
After a slightly disappointing and uneven sixth series, I was unsure of what to expect from series 7. I confess, I had started to wonder if it was time for these old detectives to hang up their shields and hand in their blockbuster cards.
Episode One, Dead Man Talking, assuaged some of my doubts. The UCOS team investigated the suspicious death of a wealthy financier on the insistence of his daughter, who was taking advice from a dodgy psychic. Sceptical of Sebastian Carter’s claims, the team were keen to expose him as a fraud but this was complicated by Carter’s seeming insight into Pullman’s complicated family issues. Dead Man Talking contained some elements similar to the Sherlock episode The Blind Banker – mysterious Oriental women, sinister dealings in back rooms in Chinatown and gang members and Nic has already pointed out that this episode was half as long and twice as enjoyable.
Favourite moment: When James Bolam’s Jack Halford goes all Columbo to solve the mystery, making up a black box with gold lacquer to catch Penny Anderson out. It’s a blink and you’ll miss it moment, but it really made me laugh.
I was excited to see Anne Reid guest-starring in Episode Two, It Smells of Books. New Tricks was on more familiar territory here, with a lot of shenanigans surrounding Brian’s new obsession with his London Library membership.
The episode appeared to be commenting on the commercialisation of education as the plot centered around the fictional London Municipal University, which was closing its library in an attempt to make more room for profitable degrees such as Law and Economics. The mystery itself was reasonably pedestrian but I thought the idea of the murder victim having hidden a priceless book in a library to be very satisfying.
Favourite moment: Just because it genuinely frightened me – the unscrupulous Dr Jeremy Ventham attempting to trap Brian in the sliding stacks in the London Library Basement. It was very creepy!
Episode Three, Left Field saw the team investigating the case of a missing five-year-old, Yasser Gorton-Blackledge. When a notorious paedophile confesses to the child’s kidnap, the case seems open and shut, but where would the fun be in that?! Doon McKichan is an excellent guest star and red herring. Like the series 3 episode, Dockers, Left Field takes a look at a political movement and considers the effect the political has on the personal. Brian and Gerry spend some time in the MI5 headquarters reading surveillance files and, of course, Brian becomes paranoid about his past political involvements and whether he is being watched. Happily, this episode also featured appearances by Anthony Calf as DAC Strickland and the marvelous Susan Jameson as Esther Lane.
Favourite moment: I was genuinely a bit torn here. Brian becoming convinced that he is under surveillance was pretty funny, but I think the best line in the episode belonged to Gerry. Being confronted by the odious chauvinist Fred Blackledge, and being labelled a ‘mangina’ Gerry retorts: “If that makes you a man, and me a mangina, then book me in for a Brazilian!” God bless the BBC for putting the word ‘mangina’ in Dennis Waterman’s mouth. Pure comedy gold.
Gerry Standing: Mangina
In Episode Four, Dark Chocolate, things take a slightly darker turn as the team investigate a series of rapes in a chocolate factory after the serial rapist strikes again. I was deeply impressed by how subtle the writers were in portraying the effect the attacks had on the women who survived them. Moreover, the episodes highlighted that rape is a crime of violence and not sexually motivated. The crime was solved, not by advances in technology, but by the team’s ability to remember past cases. Mixed in with the darker elements in the storyline was some humour, and Gerry getting caught in the factory production line was slapstick at its finest. I could have done without the comedy pathologist, however.
Favourite moment: The capture of the rapist – foiled in his attempts to get away by being tripped up by Gerry.
In Episode Five, Good Morning Lemmings, the team investigate the unsolved murder of a Banksy-esque figure, grafitti artist Danny ‘Flak’ Tyler. There is some overlap with BBC’s Sherlock, again. The episode guest stars Hadyn Gwynne (who appears in The Great Game) and both shows make some attempt to portray the grafitti community. Whereas Sherlock‘s attempts at a Banksy figure in The Blind Banker were just risible, here they are merely silly. New Tricks is often at its best when it shows the old boys attempting to get to grips with the modern world, and Good Morning Lemmings is no exception. Brian has joined Twitter, as TopCop999 and his growing obsession with tweeting is ridiculous and hilarious (‘cop is in my DNA’).
On my way in this morning, I played a game...
It also gives Dennis Waterman ample opportunity to do silly voices and faces as Gerry mocks Brian’s obsession. Good Morning Lemmings is notable also for an excellent appearance by the late, and much missed, Simon McCorkindale. It’s also a good episode for Sandra’s general fabulousness.
I want these sunglasses...
...and an appointment with her stylist.
Favourite moment: I’m torn again. Jack’s posh voice at the fancy art gallery is pretty hilarious but Sandra Pullman wins. When Gerry is worried that his classic car will be unsafe when parked in a shady area, she shoots him down. “Gerry, it’s a pile of shit.”
Read part 2 here!