New Tricks: Bermondsey Boy

“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.”

Anna Quindlen

It’s the eleventh series of New Tricks now, apparently, and only 25% of the original team is still around. Or, if you prefer actual numbers, one person, the immortal Gerry Standing, who is now accompanied in his semi-legal policing escapades by a Scottish divorcee, a pedantic and slightly odd ex-secret service agent, and a Sandra Pullman stand-in with a green coat. It has to be admitted that they do make a good team. The dynamics appear to have settled down after the mass exodus of old cast members, and New Tricks is back into the comfortable old swing of things: in Bermondsey Boy UCOS investigates the death of an architecture student who fell from a high building.

As usual, Gerry encounters a Ghost from his Past and deals with some Family Issues; not-Sandra fends off the advances of a sleazy secondary character; and Dan is amusingly deadpan as he learns to read body language and announces after a kung-fu arrest, “That’s right. I’m bad.”

It’s amusing but not particularly well thought-out. According to the writers, fences regularly post full details of upcoming transactions freely on the Internet, cynical policemen still fall for the old hide-behind-a-sticky-out-wall trick, and experienced Londoners narrate blindingly obvious bits of geography for the benefit of any non-Londoners who may happen to be walking past. You can’t help feeling that New Tricks is a programme which lost its edge and its writing talent years ago. Which doesn’t stop it from being vaguely comforting in a nostalgic kind of way, of course, but there are quite a few things I’d rather watch.

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