It is very hard to come up with a police series which is truly original as the subject has pretty much been done to death from every angle over the years. However, the producers of New Tricks managed to do just that when they launched the pilot in 2003. Not really surprising that the show has run and run and we are now up to the eighth series and it has reached a total of 66 episodes. Good to see that we had 10 episodes this time round as in Series 7, rather than the 8 in earlier series.
Despite the long running nature of New Tricks, the script writers still seem to come up with original and sometimes quite offbeat plots. For example the last in the current series concerned the case of a zoo keeper whom it had been assumed had been mauled to death by a tiger, but whom the team suspect was killed before being put in the tiger's enclosure. As is usually the case, the truth, when it is teased out, is far from straight forward. Also good to see that we were not left with a cliff hanger at the end of this episode as has happened in some previous series and is unnecessary in my view since it tends to feel rather contrived.
A lot of the charm lies with the individual quirkiness of the three main investigators in UCOS - Jack Halford (James Bolam), Gerry Standing (Dennis Waterman), and Brian Lane (Alun Armstrong). I thought the first episode in this series was interesting - it concerned the murder of a paleontologist at the Natural History Museum - but was lacking something. However, a lot of the interest does lie in the individual lives of the characters and we missed seeing Jack communicating with his dead wife in his back garden, Gerry with his many ladies and ex wives and daughters, and Alun obsessing and trying the patience of his wife, the long suffering Esther (Susan Jameson who is married to James Bolam in real life). However, happily more elements of their personal lives did creep back into later episodes which was very welcome.
As always Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman (Amanda Redman) acts as an excellent foil for the three boys. Fans will be pleased to learn that a ninth series is planned for next year. However, one wonders how many more series will be possible without a change of personnel. James Bolam is a superb actor but he is now 76, and although he is wearing well, seeing him on screen representing the Met is beginning to stretch credibility. I did wonder if a comment at the end of Episode 10 was a hint that the BBC were perhaps thinking the same way.