Having followed Ultimate Force religiously since it first aired in 2002, I jumped at the chance to buy Series 3 & 4 for £10. (God bless the CD Warehouse) However, when I sat down to watch Series 4, the enthusiasm slowly drained from my face and my jaw drooped lower and lower as the episodes progressed, until the very last one that is.
The original format of a series of Ultimate Force would be six 50-minute episodes which would begin with an often fiery introduction of the bad guys of the week (normally involving hostages being taken). Then 30-minutes of plot and character development would ensue, along with a few laughs, before all coming to a fiery (an often bloody) conclusion. Those were the days.
Series 3 changed the format somewhat by casting out a linear storyline, but still managed to strike the balance between plot, action and character. Then Series 4 came along, and fell victim, like many other long-running action series to: lacklustre story, dismal scripts and second-rate characters trying desperately to emulate characters so stupidly killed off in the opening to S3. The pacing of episodes in S4 becomes plodding and labourious; when the action finally does kick-off , too much has already been done for it to redeem itself. But on the plus side, the last of the unseen episodes plays out like something from the good old days; creating genuine tension, and giving some insight into Henno's virtually unheard-of past.
Overall, UF:S4 slips step by step down the quality ladder as it unfolds, but redeems itself somewhat by its finale. My advice to writers for Series 5: keep with the same cast of characters.
EDIT: 27/3/08 - and thus, it is confirmed Ultimate Force will not be returning for a 5th series; R.I.P. Henno Garvie and the original Red Troop.