New Tricks – old dogs can learn
Based on the premise that you can not teach an old dog new tricks, this BBC series proves that old adage wrong. Three retired detectives, led by Superintendent Sandra Pullman (Amanda Redman) examine unsolved crimes of yester-year using old and new policing methods.
Each of the detectives has their own areas of expertise – Brian Lane (Alun Armstrong) is the bi-polar intellectual, remembering past case histories, having an interest in analysis, maths, biology and generally open to new ideas. Jack Halford (James Bolam) is still trying to come to terms with the death of his wife, Mary and enjoys solving the old cases as a way of forgetting his loneliness. He is the elder statesman of the team. Gerry Standing (Dennis Waterman) is the down-to-earth bad boy of the team. He has 3 ex-wives who are his friends, 3 daughters and a granddaughter and has even flirted with his boss. He is a fan of the old policing methods – having a snout or grass (informant) on cases and mixing with the underworld. He hates the bureaucracy and forms that need to be completed and leaves those to the rather obsessive Brian. Sandra herself is a highly successful career woman who has made sacrifices in her personal life. She keeps the team focussed and sweetens up the boss – Strickland.
The plot focuses on the lives of the 4 main characters as much as the crimes that they solve which range from feuds between two warring Ice-cream making gangsters, deaths associated with a Wiccan cult, Gangster property tycoons and violent dog killings.
The programme has just concluded its fourth series and repeats of series 3 are being shown. The series works because of the genuine humour and respect of the members of the team – they have become a surrogate family. Often being the butt of many “Little Britain” jokes about his size and tv roles, Dennis Waterman does indeed sing the theme tune!