It’s fair to say I wasn’t overly impressed with New Tricks’ return last week specifically the writers’ decision to focus on the tired character of Gerry rather than the group as a whole. Thankfully this week’s instalment is more concerned with showcasing the drama’s new group dynamic in both their professional and personal lives. Furthermore I particularly enjoyed the subplot involving Nicholas Lyndhurst’s Danny Griffin primarily as I feel that Lyndhurst is the strongest member of New Trick’s central quartet.
That subplot in question revolves around Danny’s despondence concerning daughter Holly’s departure from his house in order to attend university. Danny’s homelife is now presented as being completely empty and he even takes on a stray cat to fill the void left by his daughter. Danny’s situation also begins to affect his mood at work and therefore his colleagues decide to force him into partaking in a number of social activities. Whilst the scenes of the team members bowling together may have been a bit clichéd, I enjoyed the fact that we were actually getting to see them enjoy each other’s company. As I mentioned last week I feel it’s important to establish this new quartet and it scenes such as this and the later pub quiz sequence that will do just that. These scenes really saw a new chemistry develop between old hands Dennis Waterman and Denis Lawson and newcomers Lyndhurst and Tamzin Outhwaite. This being said I found the quartet’s ride on a Pedibus to be a little overly quirky and didn’t believe it was as funny as the writers thought it would be. What I did like was Lyndhurst’s stoic turn as Danny realised Holly wasn’t his little girl any more as she turned up with a new boyfriend in tow. Lyndhurst’s brilliant facial expressions told Danny’s tale as he realised that his new family were the people he saw every day at work.
In last week’s review I also commented on how the central murder mystery affects my overall interest in the episode as a whole. To that end I found this week’s crime story, which concerned the murder of a young medical student, a lot more thrilling that last week’s cockney crooks caper. The daughter of two surgeons, Lydia Dryden was a privileged girl who was well-liked by her colleagues and was yet found strangled four years ago. As always UCOS have very little evidence to go with other than a photo-fit of a man who was supposedly stalking Lydia just before her death. However, as they often do, the veteran coppers are soon able to unearth a multitude of secrets, none of which the original investigating officers stumbled upon. The group’s first major discovery is that Lydia was supposedly having an affair with one of the surgeons at the hospital until its revealed that the revered Lawrence Devlin is actually her father. Soon enough other elements of Lydia’s character are unearthed; from the fact she made a serious enemy after a caesarian section went wrong to the revelation that she was stealing painkillers for her sister. I have to say that I found these tales quite hard to believe and I found it harder to grasp that Lydia’s eventual killer was someone with a fairly minor motive. Additionally, for the second week in a row, the murderer was revealed to be a character who was initially thought to only be a minor player in the life of the victim.
Although I felt the chemistry between the actors had improved between last week and this; I feel that some of the cast are still being ill-served. That’s particularly true of Denis Lawson, who had to make Steve’s new addiction to Candy Crush Saga seem at all believable. Steve’s addiction to the online game feels like something writer Marston Bloom concocted when he realised he had a couple of minutes of screen time to fill. Whilst Lawson tries to add a happy-go-lucky streak to his character I think that the Candy Crush story was ludicrous and most likely will never be mentioned again. Tamzin Outhwaite still has been given little to do as Sasha Miller but I felt it was still great taking control of UCOS a little more. Outhwaite makes it clear that Sasha isn’t tolerating any nonsense from either Gerry or Steve and picks them up on their sometimes unprofessional behaviour. But, just like Steve’s Candy Crush nonsense, Sasha’s self-imposed tea-drinking ban isn’t given any time to develop nor does it have a satisfying conclusion. One character who I felt was better utilised this week was Gerry, who I feel is best-served in small doses rather than leading the show. Dennis Waterman’s remarks about students invading his pub quizzes and the sordid life of the surgeons perfectly fit his character and at the same time I don’t think he ever outstayed his welcome. Finally, although I’ve mentioned him already, it’s funny how Danny never once uses the body language techniques he learnt at the FBI training course last week. I’m sure that he could’ve put them to good work throughout this case especially seeing how many secrets unravelled over the course of the hour.
Judging from tonight’s instalment, New Tricks is definitely returning to form even it quite hasn’t found its feet with its current team. Tonight’s episode demonstrated that the new UCOS team at least share decent chemistry and bounce off each other a lot better than they previously did. The focus on Nicholas Lyndhurst’s Danny was a good idea as he’s definitely the most interesting character whilst the central crime story was definitely more intriguing than last week’s.
At the same time I felt some of the minor subplots, especially Steve’s gaming addiction, were unnecessary and that the final reveal was too similar to last week’s. Based on the fact that last week’s overnight rating was two million down on this time last year, it does see that New Tricks isn’t attracting the audience it once did. I do feel that the drama does need to make some improvements if this new team is going to have the staying power of the show’s classic quartet. But tonight’s episode at least suggested that improvements were being made even if the current cast haven’t quite reached their full potential yet.
What did you think to tonight’s episode of New Tricks? Do you like the new cast dynamics?
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