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New Tricks: Season 8

Release Year:         2011
Studio:         Acorn Media
Format:         Colour; NTSC, Widescreen
Rated:         Not Rated
# of Discs/Episodes:         3/ 10
Running Time:         Approx. 514 minutes
DVD Release Date:         September 25, 2012
Creators:         Roy Mitchell, Nigel McCrery
Actors:         Amanda Redman, Dennis Waterman, Alun Armstrong, James Bolam
DVD Features:         SDH subtitles
E:Top Picks Rating:         9.5/10

Acorn Media Write-up:    
Detectives Jack Halford (James Bolam, “The Beiderbecke Affair”), Brian Lane (Alun Armstrong, “Garrow’s Law”), and Gerry Standing (Dennis Waterman, “The Sweeney”) retired years ago. Then sexy superintendent Sandra Pullman (Amanda Redman, “Sexy Beast”) talked them into joining her Unsolved Crime and Open Case Squad. Ever since, they’ve been cracking cold cases, proving that old-school sleuthing skills are still the best way to solve a crime.

Britain’s highest-rated TV drama sizzles with wit, camaraderie, and chemistry among its stars. Season Eight takes them from a museum to a zoo and from a biker gang to witness protection in search of killers who thought they were in the clear. Along the way, Gerry signs up for a French cooking class, Sandra copes with a handsome ex, and everyone frets about budget cuts. Guest stars including Peter Davison (“Doctor Who”, “The Last Detective”), Keith Allen (“Robin Hood”), and Sheila Hancock(“The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”).

Behind-the-scenes featurette (19 min.)

Jon Ted Wynne Review:    
NEW TRICKS, like the proverbial vintage wine, just gets better and better. Despite series co-star James Bolam’s concern that the show is becoming stale (the reason for his departure from the show at the end of Series 8–though apparently he does appear in the first episode of Series 9 to wrap up his storyline) anyone who enjoys the company of these old salts will find much to please the palate in this new set of ten episodes. And recent news that stars Amanda Redman and Alun Armstrong are leaving the show, though not until the end of 2013 (after Series 10 is filmed), is even more reason to enjoy the newly-released episodes in North America that comprise Series 8. If things are indeed getting stale on the show, we haven’t seen it yet. In fact, word is Series 9, which has started being broadcast in the U.K. has some genuine surprises and great drama. Fingers crossed! For now, we’ll enjoy Series 8, Acorn Media’s North American release of the popular police show.

Let’s face it, the plots on NEW TRICKS, good as they are, take a back seat to the character-driven interplay that is the heart of the show. So long as the beloved UCOS team’s collective idiosyncrasies are on hand, all is well.

Things start off with a bang in the first episode, “End of the Line,” which sees star Amanda Redman giving the background of their current case (read exposition) during a long Steadicam shot that takes the team down a London street and into the Underground (the tube, or subway). It’s a very impressive bit of acting, and proof in itself that the show has not lost its edge. It is also a reminder how deserving Ms Redman is of the MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) that she was recently awarded by Queen Elizabeth II. The storyline involves street people and one of the more prominent of these characters is played by the wonderful Tony Rohr, who was recently seen in a similar role on an episode of “George Gently”. John McEnery is also on hand, playing a role decades away from his troubled Mercutio in Franco Zeffirelli’s film of “Romeo & Juliet”.

Fans of the show will recall that Dennis Waterman’s real-life daughter Hannah has appeared in several episodes. Not to be outdone, Amanda Redman’s daughter, Emily Glenister, appears in the episode “Only The Brave,” though you’d never know they were related. Ms Glenister looks more like her real-life father than her gorgeous mother. She comes by her talent honestly though and appears here in one of her first professional gigs having graduated just a few years ago from The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, (this reviewer’s old training ground). Speaking of this fine institution, actors Cyril Nri and Julia Ford, who were there the same time as yours truly, both appear in the episode “Setting Out Your Stall”.

The last episode, Tiger Tiger, is arguably the best of the lot. The ending provides an easy segue into the departure of Bolam’s character, though apparently this is pure coincidence as he did not announce he was quitting the show until two days after the BBC renewed NEW TRICKS for two further series (9 & 10).

There’s an awful lot to enjoy in all ten of these episodes and while there may at times be a little less character interplay than earlier seasons, it’s still fun to watch and there are some great one-liners now and then to keep things light.

The episodes, for some reason arranged differently from their original U.K. broadcast order, are without exception good. Here they are:

End of the Line – episode 1
Lost in Translation – episode 2
Old Fossils – episode 3
Moving Target – episode 4
Object of Desire – episode 5
Setting Out Your Stall – episode 6
The Gentleman Vanishes – episode 7
Only The Brave – episode 8
Half Life – episode 9
Tiger Tiger – episode 10

There’s also a fun (albeit familiar-looking) behind-the-scenes featurette which reminds the viewer just how much fun the cast has making these shows. Yes, it’s a shame that some of the cast are moving on. At least owning the series on DVD ensures that NEW TRICKS can be watched again and again. And you’ll want to, what with the focus on character rather than police procedure. That’s why this approach is so important: once you know “who done it”, what’s the point of watching something a second time? With characters this rich and their interplay so much fun to watch, well, that’s a whole different matter.