The New Tricks gang had an old case on their hands, but more importantly a new, familiar, face.
They were thrown into the case of a missing Scottish girl Georgia Wright, presumed dead in 2003. Except her blood had turned up during a garage robbery, proving her to be very much alive.
Denis Lawson - a charming manner, if only they could understand him
... which was all a neat way of introducing retired Detective Inspector Steve McAndrew (Denis Lawson), the garrulous Scot in charge of the original investigation, all enthusiasm and chat, much to the horror of the London troop.
Lawson is just what this gang needed, even if they didn't immediately realise it. They were inevitably flummoxed by their new incumbent - "What did he say?" asked Gerry (Dennis Waterman), not a man you'd expect to try the more exotic dishes on a holiday menu, but happy to be led on a whisky education by Steve in a bonding pub session. Lawson had never been more studiously Scottish - if only Burt Lancaster had wandered it, and it could have been a scene straight out of Local Hero.
Never mind finding Georgia, this episode was all about how long it would take Steve to be invited to join the gang, and sit in the departed Jack's empty chair - a seat Lawson seems a natural to fill, judging by this debut turn.
Steve McAndrew (Denis Lawson) seemed a natural fit for the New Tricks bunch
Initially, compared with Lawson's professional exertions and sing-song Scottish lilt, the London brood appeared flat-footed and brusque, with Waterman almost shouting at witnesses. In fitting police drama style, though, it wasn't too long before their different ways of working appeared to complement one another - a perfect narrative ying-yang... who knew?
Lawson has given this series a much-needed charm injection, and his presence might just help his co-stars raise their game, too.
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