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New Tricks: Season 7

Release Year:      2010

Studio:      Acorn Media

Format:      Colour; NTSC; Boxed Set; Widescreen

Rated:      Not Rated

# of Discs/Episodes:      3/10

Running Time:      582 minutes + bonus material

DVD Release Date:       June 5, 2012

Creators:      Nigel McCrery, Roy Mitchell

Actors:      Amanda Redman, James Bolam, Alun Armstrong, Dennis Waterman, Rupert Graves, Paul Rhys, Samantha Bond, Siân Phillips

DVD Features:      SDH subtitles; Behind-the-scenes featurette (8 min.) and bloopers (10 min.)

E:Top Picks Rating:      8.5/10

Acorn Media Write-up:      Featuring strong writing, wry humor, and a splendid cast, the long-running, award-winning series NEW TRICKS, SEASON 7 debuts on DVD. Amanda Redman (“Sexy Beast”), Dennis Waterman (“The Sweeney”, “Circles of Deceit”), Alun Armstrong (“Garrow’s Law”, “Bleak House”, “Patriot Games”), and James Bolam (“The Beiderbecke Affair”) star as a team of semi-retired and somewhat curmudgeonly detectives investigating cold cases. In this wildly popular series, aging cops and traditional sleuthing trump high-tech gadgets and modern criminology. NEW TRICKS has run on the BBC for eight seasons since 2003 and has already been renewed for a ninth and tenth season. The series has enjoyed ongoing broadcast exposure in North America on public television, garnering fans on both sides of the Atlantic. The DVD 3-disc set includes all ten episodes from Season 7, plus a bonus behind-the-scenes featurette and bloopers.

James Bolam, Alun Armstrong, and Dennis Waterman star as three detectives pulled out of retirement to unravel cases that stumped the Metropolitan Police. Their beautiful boss, Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman (Amanda Redman), keeps them on track and mostly out of trouble as they follow their hunches and bend the rules. This time around, the team has its hands full with unsolved murders, an 18-year-old abduction, and a 30-year-old robbery that threatens the team’s very existence. Guest stars include Rupert Graves (“Death at a Funeral”), Paul Rhys (“Chaplin”), Samantha Bond (“Downton Abbey”), and Siân Phillips (“I, Claudius”).

Episodes: Dark Chocolate; Good Morning Lemmings; It Smells of Books; Coming Out Ball; Dead Man Talking; Fashion Victim; Left Field; Gloves Off; Where There’s Smoke; The Fourth Man.

Jon Ted Wynne Review:      Fans of NEW TRICKS in the U.K. recently learned that series co-star James Bolam (Jack Halford) has announced he is moving on from the show. The reason? “It’s becoming stale,” he said. Viewers beg to differ. Season Eight has seen the highest number of viewers in the U.K., an achievement which so impressed the BBC (producers of the program) that they have commissioned a ninth and tenth season of the show, to be broadcast in 2012 and 2013 respectively.

Mr. Bolam is certainly entitled to his opinion, but perhaps there is a reason he was cast as Jack Halford, the most irascible of the lead foursome! In the past, Bolam has expressed in interviews his disdain for people wanting to know about his private life. Also, he has refused to sign release forms allowing for some of his previous projects to be re-run. In so doing, he denies his fellow performers any opportunity for continued recognition of their work and affecting their bottom line by denying them residual payments for the re-runs. Sounds a tad cantankerous to me.

Be this as it may, NEW TRICKS remains a fun show. Season Seven (Eight will follow soon over here, no doubt) may not be the most compelling series to date, with its focus at times more on catching the bad guy rather than the mix of quirky personalities, but it’s still a great ride and Amanda Redman just gets sexier and stronger. She’s arguably the most interesting, attractive female lead in the “cop show” genre.

The Bolam defection is old news now, though we here in North America have yet to see his last season, number Eight. When Acorn Media releases it we can all say our goodbyes to Jack Halford, not NEW TRICKS. The brilliant Denis Lawson (Ewan McGregor’s uncle, if that interests you) has already come on board to replace Bolam. Lawson will appear as retired Detective Inspector Steve McAllister, and will no doubt inject some new energy to the next 20 episodes in Seasons Nine and Ten.

Season Seven, our season under review here, comes with more great guest stars, including the great Sian Philips (formerly Mrs. Peter O’Toole and one of the stars of “I, Claudius”, the immortal epic recently released in a special 35th anniversary edition by Acorn Media) and Samantha Bond, my fellow student at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in the early 1980s (and still a talented, stunning beauty).

Of course we’ve seen most of this before in previous seasons, but time spent with this group of seasoned pros in a show that so wonderfully showcases their many talents is always a pleasure. NEW TRICKS isn’t anywhere near being old yet. Agree to disagree, James Bolam.