DVD Review– New Tricks: Season 12
While Hollywood steadily pushes youth-oriented fare, the BBC’s series New Tricks broke the mold in a refreshing manner. The premiere showed an ambitious young police officer’s career sidelined by a twist of fate and sent to what was supposed to be career limbo: she was placed in charge of a new department investigating cold cases. Her team was composed of a trio of retired police officers who were still sharp and effective. While ageist individuals continually mocked the team, the senior sleuths proved to be amazingly effective at their job, and the series blended twisty mysteries and comedy for twelve seasons.
The show had a few ups and downs along the way; sometimes the plot lines became so labyrinthine that it became difficult to follow the mysteries, but New Tricks eventually fell victim to a problem that virtually every long-running series faces: the loss of the original cast. One by one, the members of the original ensemble left, and even though they were replaced by excellent actors who were delightful in their roles, the show lost a lot of its charm and magic as old friends went on to new projects. This is not a problem for some series—the Law & Order franchise has made its revolving cast a hallmark of the show—but the original cast of New Tricks had such perfect chemistry that every loss was deeply felt.
By the start of season twelve, Gerry Standing (Dennis Waterman), the last remaining member of the original cast, was ready to leave. Of the four original cast members, his final goodbye, told in the first two episodes of the twelfth season, is by far the most satisfying and enjoyable farewell, as the oft-married and oft-divorced ladies’ man’s younger years are revealed and his ex-colleagues’ police corruption from decades earlier is finally exposed.
For the last eight episodes of the season, the replacement cast members took over, and they’re all very likeable and fun to watch, though as a unit they never quite achieve the comedic brilliance of the original team. The perpetually cash-strapped Steve McAndrew (Denis Lawson), the autodidact with diverse interests, Dan Griffin (Nicholas Lyndhurst), and the team leader Sasha Miller (Tamzin Outhwaite) are joined by the quirky and superstitious newcomer Ted Case (Larry Lamb). They make a really watchable team, and the show could have continued; the writing is often clearer and the plotting easier to understand than that of some recent seasons, and the cast seemed to be gelling and coming into their own by the end of the series, but unfortunately, cancellation brought an end to the Unsolved Crimes and Open Case Squad (UCOS). The twelfth season is a strong end to a terrific series, though there is a sense that the show really ought to have continued.
New Tricks: Season 12