28 of 38 people found the following review helpful
A sad demise for a once classic show,
This review is from: New Tricks: Complete BBC Series 10 [DVD] (DVD)
After eight glorious years of crime solving with a smile, series 9 had a massive drop in quality. I'd hoped this would be a blip and series 10 would bounce back, but if anything, this year is even weaker than the previous year. It pains me to slate what was once one of my favourite tv programs, but this is no longer the show where Sandra shot one dog and so got landed with a bunch of dinosaur cops.
That show had a winning formula. It was a perfect example of how to take a dry concept and make it work. It did this by having a strong mix of character and plot along with a good mix of family and work life. This formula worked for eight years, but then it was replaced. I presume the logic must have been that to avoid the show being too strongly identified with lead characters who were leaving, the show needed to become less character based so it could continue with a new cast. If that's the reason, it'd have been better to end the show on a high and then create a spin-off, because the new formula is bland.
The formula now is for four cops, who don't have much of an existence outside work, to solve cases in a routine manner, which usually involves them talking through the facts in the office, fingering a suspect, and then waiting for them to confess. Sandra is no longer irritated by the antics of her subordinates, because they don't get up to any antics and neither do they have any definable idiosyncrasies, and any quirks they do present are inconsistent.
For example, when new man Steve was introduced, he had a broad accent and was sprightly. He was always the first in the office in the morning, he was a maverick, and he had a backstory of being on an epic quest to find his long-lost son. This is a good profile, except it rarely gets used. His accent softened after one episode. Sometimes he's lively, but most of the time he slopes around like everyone else. Sometimes he's a maverick, but at other times he tells others off for breaking the rules. And he finds his son by looking in the telephone directory. The end result is that Steve's lines could have been written for anyone. This is doubly irritating because Denis Lawson is a great actor who is worth watching in anything, but here he has nothing to do other than explain the plot.
The same could be said of new-boy Danny, whose lines sound like they could have been written for Brian. Then there's Sandra's replacement, whose main interesting feature is being happily married to a senior officer, except that's removed as she immediately separates. And finally there's Gerry, who no longer does anything that Gerry once did. It's actually a shock when in one episode the show remembers that Gerry is scared of trees. That joy is short-lived when for no good reason he's abandoned in a forest and he stumbles across the killer, who promptly confesses, which brings up the last main irritation this year of stories that are mediocre at best.
The opening two-parter is a one hour story padded into two hours, presumably to justify the budgetary needs of filming in Gibraltar. The only good point is that this sets up a reason for Brian leaving, except the groundwork is abandoned for his last two episodes. Episode 3 has the novel approach of not having a plot. Instead, after setting up a situation nothing develops until the hour drifts to an end. Episode 4 goes to the opposite extreme with a convoluted plot that makes no sense. Brian and Esther deserved a better way to be written out, just like Jack last year, although thankfully later on Sandra is written out with some emotion in a simple story that gives her character time to breath.
Episode 5 introduces Danny and is probably the best written episode all year, but any good feeling that generates erodes quickly as the rest are poor. Worse, many themes such as politics and badly treated migrant workers who are still fighting old wars are rekindled ideas from previous, better years. There's also a heavy reliance on the victim being accidentally killed rather than being murdered. Unlike the early days this is always shown in flashback, which shows a lack of confidence on the part of the writers, as all the culprits are weak people with weak motivations and we have to see the scene to understand it.
In brief, for most of its run this show had charm and wit, but now it's dreary and routine. The show may continue with a new cast for a few more years, but it'll be New Tricks only because it says so during the bouncy opening theme song. And I assume that song will get replaced before long, as it no longer fits a show that now, sadly, is just another cop show.
Tracked by 1 customer
Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 31 Oct 2013 00:19:20 GMT
L. Kirby says:
Blackhorse, Thanks for your detailed and helpful review. You've helped me to decide not to buy this latest installment because it sounds like everything I loved about it has been deleted. I totally concur with your suggestion that a spin-off would be more appropriate. I suppose that is not done because it is desirable to have the successful "New Tricks" connection. And really they are shooting themselves in the foot if that is their thinking because does anyone begin a series at the end rather than the beginning?
‹ Previous 1 Next ›