'New Tricks: Season Nine'
(Amanda Redman, Denis Lawson, Alun Armstrong, Dennis Waterman, et al / 3-Disc / Not Rated / (2011) 2012 / Acorn Media)
Overview: For eight years, the old dogs of the Unsolved Crime and Open Case Squad (UCOS) — veteran detectives Jack Halford (James Bolam, The Beiderbecke Affair), Brian Lane (Alun Armstrong, Garrow's Law), and Gerry Standing (Dennis Waterman, The Sweeney) — have been a close-knit team. Led by Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman (Amanda Redman, Sexy Beast), they have solved cold cases with classic policing skills and easy camaraderie. Then Jack drops a bombshell: he's quitting. Retiring. And this time, he means it!
DVD Verdict: OK, I know I've said this before, but it stands to reason that I would like to repeat it again! For the record, I love this UK TV crime show! I have done since its conception on British TV some nine years ago, and knowing that they are filming a brand new series of this as we speak, with another further one announced for 2014, well, I'm rubbing my hands in glee as we speak!
That said, the episodes have started to blend into same-old same-old territory. The freshness that once was is now a little stale. The jokes about their collective ages, their quips to each other, their personal traits are all known, all tiresome now. Now, don't get me wrong here, for I'm not banishing them to the has-been's corner of the basement just yet. But, and sadly, it goes a long way to explain why one of the main characters, Jack Halford (James Bolam) has decided to call it quits. The oldest member of the team, and the cast, he has always looked tired, but in this 9th season he is only in the opening episode, before being packed off to sunny Spain!
Anyway, let's get into the show. And as I have been told by readers of the Magazine that I give too much away about the episodes, I shall try my hardest to take a step back from en mass reveals! In the first episode of 10, 'A Death in the Family,' which begins like no other re: black and white and very olden day theatrical, the murder took place in ... 1851! With an higher power looming over them to get the job done quickly, they do just that - albeit reluctantly. In 'Old School Ties,' there is no more Jack and nobody gets to sit at his desk, in his chair either. A skeleton is dug up on the grounds of a Peregrine Manor school and it turns out to be there missing PE Teacher. But something else is going on at the Manor; something perhaps more supernatural! In 'Queen and Country,' Foreign Office employee Annabel Tilson's body was found in a frozen lake in Christmas 2008, but worse yet an important laptop went missing too. The Civil Service is knee deep in this one, but the twist at the end is refreshing and well played!
In 'The Girl Who Lived,' back in 2003 a 17 year-old girl named Georgia Wright vanished after a university disco in Scotland. So, we get introduced to a fast-talking (retired) Scot detective up from that neck of the woods to join the team in their search for answers. It's a wee bit convoluted of a story, in truth, but come the end not only is the bad guy cauht, but Sandra finds a replacement for Jack ie: in retired detective Steve McAndrew (Emmy® nominee Denis Lawson, Bleak House). In 'Body of Evidence,' and with Steve now into the fold of the quartet, although he stil isn't allowed anywhere near Jack's old desk, they investigate the fact that the body of a young police computer trainee has (wrongly) found its way into the morgue at a London teaching hospital. A nice twist and turn of an episode this one, you'll never guess whodunit though, trust me!
In 'Love Means Nothing in Tennis,' it's the death of a Junior Tennis Champion Alice Kemp who fell to her death from a rented luxury flat balcony in 2010 that gets the old guy juices flowing - if you'll pardon the terminology! Now, the trouble with this one is that the laws of whodunit on TV shows is that whenever there is an old TV star, or a B-movie star drafted in THEY did it. So, I watched, I guessed someone else, but low and behold ... Tamzin Outhwaite! (Then again it could easily have also been Alexei Sayle!!) In 'Dead Poets,' in 2002 the charred corpse of young poet Sean Doherty was found in the scrapyard of Turkish drug-dealer Mehtin Topal. At the time Topal was not convicted of the killing, but with new evidence the is now reopened - and racial motives loom large.
In 'Blue Flower,' our band of merry men (and one lady!) investigate the murder of East German refugee Max Klein. In his dying breath he managed to say, of course, "Blue Flower," so that is what has stuck all this time in the case file. But it's a chance encounter with Grace Cusack, a grieving mother whose son was killed at the same spot a year before Max's death that starts the ball rolling faster and faster. Come the end and, well, one of our team gets too close to the speed of the investigation for his/her own liking!
In 'Part of a Whole,' after an attempt to kill Stephen Fisher, Sandra's boss Strickland calls the team together to a very secret meeting. Once there he reveals that some thirty years earlier he and Fisher had been part of an intelligence group investigating the IRA, but that their source; journalist Simon Bisley was killed in a hit-and-run and the investigation ended. But it seems that not everything back then was as it had seemed as now the team have a very angry man to have to deal with/avoid! In the final episode of season nine, 'Glasgow UCOS,' Gerry and Steve go to Glasgow. Sure it's just routine and basically to advise them on establishing a UCOS office in their fair city. But whilst there the now-bonding-very-nicely guys are asked to investigate the nineteen year old death of bookmaker James Soutar. As they dig deeper they find out that the investigating officer at the time, Frank McNair was suspected of corruption. So, with one hand tied behind their backs, and a clock ticking unknowingly, they strive to solve the case. These are all Full Screen Presentations (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Behind-The-Scenes Clips (12 min.)