New Tricks Season 3

New Tricks Season 3 (DVD Cover)

Recurring character(s): Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman (Amanda Redman), Gerry Standing (Dennis Waterman), Brian Lane (Alun Armstrong), Jack Halford (James Bolam)

Director: Various

Original air date(s): 04/17/2006 to 06/05/2006
DVD Date: 02/22/2011

Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 463 minutes

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New Tricks Season 3

Review: The premise behind this series is a team of three former police officers recruited and managed by a current Detective Superintendent to look into cold cases. The Unsolved Crime and Open Case Squad (UCOS) examines eight such cases in the third season of this BBC series (which, as of the date of this review, will air its eighth season later this year).

This is the first season of New Tricks I've seen, and I must say I was rather disappointed. Even though each episode of this comedic crime drama is self-contained, I always had the feeling I was missing something, that I was the sole person in the room who didn't get "it" (whatever "it" is supposed to be).

For starters, I didn't bond with the characters. Yes, I know they're supposed to be loveably quirky, but DS Sandra Pullman was never convincing to me as a team commander, and I was put off more than a few times by the three former detectives, who were all a bit too gruff, curmudgeonly if you will. I will admit that the team sort of grew on me throughout this season of episodes, so maybe if I had started at the beginning of the series, back with Season 1 Episode 1, I'd appreciate this ensemble more.

Characters aside, what troubled me more was how terribly simplistic the plotlines were. None of these cases were all that difficult to solve — the clues were there ready to be followed like breadcrumbs — which had me wondering, why they weren't solved in the first place. You're probably saying I'm missing the point (again), that this is a more of a character-driven comedy series as opposed to a plot-driven crime drama. But still, the writers could have given the team something challenging to work on every now and then.

My conclusion: Those seeking a whodunit-style crime drama where the investigating officers actually investigate a crime should probably give New Tricks a pass. However, if you're interested in crime drama-lite (as it were), where there are more laughs than red herrings, this series may be worth a look.

Below is a synopsis of each episode; the set also includes a behind-the-scenes featurette.

Episode 1: "Lady’s Pleasure": Five years ago, a teacher died at the wheel of her husband’s prized sports car. Now he wants the car back, inspiring Sandra to reopen the investigation. Her only clue: a photo of a small tattoo in a very private place.

Episode 2: "Dockers": Reinvestigating the 1975 death of a union boss, the team steps into a political minefield. Was his death murder or suicide? Did he steal money from the union? And why is a Labour peer so interested?

Episode 3: "Old Dogs": With a serial dog killer stalking Hampstead Heath, Sandra and her team dust off a 30-year-old case. The cruelty of the crimes affects Brian’s judgment, especially when his beloved dog, Scruffy, dies.

Episode 4: "Diamond Geezers": A notorious criminal returns to England to bury his father, leading the team to reopen the unsolved case of a murdered police informant. The investigation heats up quickly, and Brian goes undercover.

Episode 5: "Wicca Work": The team takes a fresh look at the decade-old murder of a librarian when a woman insists witchcraft was involved — the victim had belonged to a coven. Brian suspects human sacrifice, and Jack has visions of his dead wife.

Episode 6: "Bank Robbery": After 17 years on the run, an informant surfaces with new evidence about a deadly unsolved robbery. A crook-turned-celebrity proves to be an unwilling suspect, and Gerry must team with an old rival to solve the crime.

Episode 7: "Ice Cream Wars": Ten years ago, a feud between two rival ice-cream businesses turned nasty when someone was shot. The original investigation focused on suspects outside of both victims’ families. This time, the team looks closer to home.

Episode 8: "Congratulations": New evidence leads to an arsonist’s early release from prison. Free and allegedly reformed, he wants his case reopened to right old wrongs. Meanwhile, a young woman arrives at Gerry’s flat claiming to be his daughter.


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