New Tricks is repeating material now, but it is still an enjoyable watch.
Not many shows on British TV can boast a record of twelve series and a run of 12 years, and those that can often struggle to keep the show fresh and exciting for viewers, but as this opening episode of the final ever series of New Tricks shows, fresh and exciting is not always necessary for an enjoyable hour of television.
The episode covers ground that has been covered before; a story based around two corrupt officers in the 1980s, where nobody could be trusted and everyone could have been guilty of ‘being on the take’, and the recently discovered body of a Detective Chief Inspector who was working to bring said cops down. This time however it’s personal, with the last remaining original member of the team, Gerry Standing, being in the frame as one of the crooked cops of the period, and by the end of the episode, as a suspect for murder. Gerry as a character has always been close to the line when it comes to his work, he knows who and what he dislikes, and is not afraid to use his fists in order to stop a suspect. Yet at heart he is not a bad person, and this episode demonstrates Dennis Waterman’s acting ability, being able to make us sympathise with his plight of being framed, whilst also meaning we are suspicious of whether he is guilty or not.
All the clues are pointing towards him, and we know that he is leaving by the end of episode 2 of the series, so it is possible that one of our favourite cops is about to be banged up. But then again, this is the world of TV, and with all the pieces fitting so perfectly, from the murder weapon having the initials GS chipped into them, to the open admission by the two dodgy detectives that they have ‘laid breadcrumbs’ leading to Gerry, I would not be surprised at all to find the real murderer being revealed in episode 2. But this has all been done many times before, although as a swansong for Waterman, they are doing the story justice by getting the audience to emotionally invest.
Whilst the episode is all about Gerry Standing, the great thing about New Tricks is how they bring comedy into the stories, and this week it’s all about babies. From babysitting Gerry’s grandson in the office, to barbs about the love life of the boss, this episode blends the drama and comedy well. Unfortunately, with so much focus on the drama, the comedic parts are a major distraction. They are humourous enough, but just not really in line with the tone of the episode.
All in all this is not a bad episode, but neither is it New Tricks at its best. It has the usual mix of silly comedy and tense drama, but it’s so routine now that it is nothing unexpected. That said, it is still an enjoyable hour, and I for one shall miss the gang when they leave at the end of the series. The true test as to how outdated the show is will come in two weeks, when Waterman leaves and no original team members are left.
New Tricks airs on BBC 1 on Tuesdays at 9pm.