6 Reasons Why We Love New Tricks

Put aside any notions you might have that it's some bland bit of Midsomer-like fluff. It's more like… NCIS meets Grumpy Old Men.

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1. It’s funny. As in, actually funny


The New Tricks gang might be up to their necks in corruption and corpses, but there’s an addictive gallows humour to the whole thing – they basically communicate in relentless sarcasm and pithy insults. We’re not talking a bunch of dad jokes here - we’re talking lines worthy of Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It.

Think; Sandra Pullman’s way of commandeering her team (“Clark, do the honours while Stan, Ollie and Rain Man gather round and try and remember what it was like to be in the police”), or Pullman’s reply to Gerry Standing when he asks if a pair of specs make him look like David Dickinson (“Yeah, but without the ‘David’ or ‘inson’”). Then there are the little throwaway gems from deadpan Brian Lane, whose response to Gerry’s “Will you stop creeping up on me?” is “I don’t creep. I glide.” Beautiful.

2. The characters are brilliant


You know DCI Gene Hunt from Life on Mars, and how he’s generally regarded as a TV cop icon? Well, Gerry “Last Man” Standing in New Tricks (played by Dennis Waterman), is basically Gene Hunt, only more real and less of a cartoon character.

He’s a swaggering, old school copper who enjoys chugging on ciggies and snarling, and does not enjoy politeness or anything else you happen to like. He is frankly awesome and could easily carry an entire show on his own (“Last Man Standing” – we may need to make that happen.)

The other characters are no slouches either. There’s Brian “Memory” Lane, played by Alun Armstrong, who’s somehow befuddled and deadpan at the exact same time, and is part genius, part crazy person. His powers include instant recall and being able to slightly frighten everyone around him.

3. The cases are refreshingly peculiar


Let’s face it, most British crime dramas aren’t exactly renowned for their inventiveness. Someone dies, there’s a few twists and turns, a few personal revelations, the odd frown in an interrogation room, and that’s it. New Tricks has got all of that, sure, but the contexts can be brilliantly odd.

We’re talking about a series which began with Sandra Pullman being reassigned after shooting a pooch in the face (or as Standing sums it up “Woof woof, bang bang”). Where the cases have included a veteran celebrity chef apparently murdering her husband 40 years ago, a heist involving an exotic jewel, and a woman who’d apparently been more-or-less eaten by her own cats. Oh and then there was the time they investigated a corpse that was over 600 years old.

This never happens in Midsomer.

4. It’s got depth to it


Most whodunit-type shows don’t overly bother with depth. There’s a case of the week, it gets solved, and then some kind of god-like reset button is pressed and everyone returns to their places for the next instalment like obedient puppets. New Tricks isn’t like that.

Take Jack Halford (played by James Bolam), who at the best of times looks like what would result if you asked Tim Burton to make a charcoal drawing of a sad man. This is an actor who looks heart-tuggingly poignant stirring a cup of tea, so imagine what it’s like watching him talk lovingly to his dead wife while sitting by her grave. It packs an emotional punch, to put it mildly.

Sandra Pullman has her own unresolved family issues as well, which we don’t want to spoil by talking about here, but rest assured, Poirot never had to deal with this stuff on his zany travels.

5. It’s not a "hipster" cliché


New Tricks is a respite. It’s a refuge. It’s a refreshing break from all the achingly hip shows that you watch all the rest of the time.

Isn’t it nice to step away from the hype-machines of shows like Game of Thrones or Girls or Modern Family or Parks and Recreation or True Detective?

Curling up with New Tricks is like tucking into a big lovely plate of steak and chips after days of eating nothing but deconstructed scallop lasagna with lemon foam. It’s not a show to brag about to your hipster mates: it’s just something you’ll really enjoy.

6. Dennis Waterman actually sings the theme tune


Come on, it’s brilliant when Dennis Waterman sings the theme tune, as fans of Little Britain will remember.

Although he didn't write this one, it was written by the guy who wrote the UK Eurovision entry for 1977, which came second place. This isn’t a reason to actually watch New Tricks, but it’s a good useless fact to tell anyone sitting next to you as it starts.

You’re welcome.