STANDING ON GUARD

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New Tricks: Season 9

Release Year:         2012
Studio:         Acorn Media
Format:         Colour; NTSC
Rated:         Not Rated
# of Discs/Episodes:         3 / 10
Running Time:         590 Minutes Plus Bonus
DVD Release Date:         June 25, 2013
Creators:         Roy Mitchel, Nigel McCrery
Screenwriters:         Julian Simpson, Sarah Pinborough, Dan Muirden, Roy Mitchell, Lisa Holdsworth, Julian Unthank, Marston Bloom, Simon Allen
Directors:         Julian Simpson, Matthew Evans, Robin Sheppard, Philip John
Actors:         Amanda Redman, Alun Armstrong, James Bolam, Dennis Waterman, Denis Lawson
DVD Features:         SDH subtitles
E:Top Picks Rating:         9/10

Acorn Media Write-up:
For eight years, the old dogs of the Unsolved Crime and Open Case Squad–veteran detectives Jack Halford (James Bolam, The Beiderbecke Affair), Brian Lane (Alun Armstrong, Garrow’s Law), and Gerry Standing (Dennis Waterman, The Sweeney)– have been a close-knit team. Led by Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman (Amanda Redman, Sexy Beast), their beautiful, younger boss, they have solved cold cases with classic policing skills and easy camaraderie. Then Jack drops a bombshell: he’s quitting. Retiring. And this time, he means it.

Before long, Sandra finds a replacement in retired detective Steve McAndrew (Emmy nominee Denis Lawson, Bleak House, Star Wars). A chatty, enthusiastic Scot, Steve treads on toes but gives the hit British series a “charm injection” (Huffington Post, U.K.). Season Nine guest stars include James Wilby (Island at War, Gosford Park), Sharon Small (The Inspector Lynley Mysteries), Kerry Fox (Cloudstreet), and Tim McInnerny (Blackadder) as intelligence agent Stephen Fisher.

Jon Ted Wynne Review:
The big news with Season Nine of the perennial favourite NEW TRICKS is that the show is in transition. Beyond the well-publicized and immediate departure of James Bolam in the first episode of this series, it becomes clear as Season Nine progresses that the stage is being set for a virtually new show with Dennis Waterman and Denis Lawson (Bolam’s replacement) at the centre. This is because Season Ten will see the departure of Alun Armstrong (after episode four) and Amanda Redman (after episode eight). That’s a 75% overhaul but because it is being done gradually, and because the plots are perhaps stronger than they’ve been in a while, NEW TRICKS just might pull it off.

There is a very different, more serious tone to some of the episodes here, with the Dennis Waterman-sung, upbeat theme song not used at the end of a handful of the shows. Some very contemporary storylines are thrown into the mix, including such elements as computer hacking. At the heart of the show, however, remains the emphasis on relationships and even though NEW TRICKS is in a state of flux, the viewer doesn’t feel let down. We’re in the hands of people who understand and respect the long-cultivated relationships fans have with the characters. If the introduction of Denis Lawson’s character into the mix is any indication, there may just be new life in NEW TRICKS.

The chemistry between Lawson and Waterman is wonderful and a good part of that is the fact Lawson’s Steve McAndrew is light years away from James Bolam’s irascible Jack Halford. McAndrew is thoughtful, generous, kind and fun. Instantly likeable, he fits into the show with ease and is entirely believable winning over his colleagues.

One episode features Waterman and Lawson on special assignment in Scotland, with neither Alun Armstrong nor Amanda Redman in sight. The episode deals with the abuse of children in care homes and really touched a nerve in the UK when its production coincided with a very public sex scandal involving a children’s entertainer. Recently deceased at the time, Jimmy Savile was known for his charity work and flamboyant public persona. He was a much-loved, high-profile celebrity and the general public in the U.K. felt terribly betrayed when his decades-long abuse of children was revealed. Small wonder the episode was shown at a later date.

The changes of Season Nine are major but not life-threatening. Here’s hoping they pave the way for the further, more intense transformation of NEW TRICKS that is to come. I have to say, I can’t imagine the show without Amanda Redman front and centre. Season Ten had better be good…

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