The 'New Tricks' gang were back in action last night, for the start of Series... 10! And if that makes you feel old, they're also up to ''Now That's What I Call Music 85'.
This debut episode found Brian Lane (Alun Armstrong) troubled by the past trauma of a case gone unsolved, and the present trauma of being suspended after decking a superior officer on the dance-floor.
The other three didn't seem too worried about him, instead packing their trunks for a thinly-disguised advert for the Gibraltar Tourist Board, as they followed a smoking gun from docks to casino tables, with even an ersatz Bond theme twinkling in the background.
Old gang, New Tricks, back in business...
Despite this waterside investigation - speed boat and all - Dennis Waterman and Denis Lawson somehow failed to convey quite the same sun-kissed charisma of 'CSI:Miami's David Caruso, although Amanda Redman could still give Emily Procter a run for her money.
I couldn't tell you who shot who or why, but I've realised why. The script and plot have got more holes in it than Brian's beer glass. Why, for example, did he risk his career for the sake of a file that he hadn't bothered to open in 30 years?
But 'New Tricks' seems invulnerable to such challenges, after all, the last series drew a stunning nine million viewers, figures to make the current crop of 'EastEnders' execs weep into their hankies, and I think I've worked out why.
It's because each of these faces - Redman, Lawson and Waterman - is already so familiar to us long-time purveyors of the box, that we have no trouble believing that they all know each other intimately, and are only counting the minutes by the dock, sleeping through another creaking plot twist, churning out the lines, until they can all head for the nearest watering-hole and a proper catch-up. Very similarly to what we see on screen, in fact.
Which, bizarrely, makes the whole show far more believable than it should be. In the meantime, though, one thing... Dennis Waterman - surely the luckiest man in television, and a triumph of longevity over talent. Even those mischievous monkeys acted him off the screen.
But, as usual, it didn't matter. Alun Armstrong as Brian, on the other hand, is a grade above, and it'll be sad to see him go. Because he's next to go, following James Bolam onto the chopping block to make room for some new, New Tricks, in the form of Nicholas Lyndhurst. He'd better like his beverage.
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