Movie Review: ‘New Tricks’

John Thomas

As the proverb states, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” It doesn’t, however, say anything about teaching old tricks to new dogs.

The supervisors of Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman (Amanda Redman) must find work for her after recent unfavorable events in which she was involved. They decide to create a squad to investigate unsolved crimes and open cases (UCOS), a new branch then, of the London Metropolitan Police. She must build her own team.

They’ve provided her with a list of former or retired policemen from whom to choose. She first contacts the highest ranking retiree, Detective Chief Superintendent, Jack Halford (James Bolam). The two sit down and review the list of candidates. “He’s dead, he’s dead, he’s a drunk, he’s mental, he’s dead,” Jack states.

Very few remain on the list – actually only two: Gerry Standing (Dennis Waterman) and Brian Lane (Alun Armstrong). The former is a social gad-about and the latter has a prodigious memory.

Sandra assembles her three-man team in their partially renovated offices to begin their first investigation – the death of a young woman nearly 20 years ago. Her murderer is soon to be released from prison and threatens a lawsuit for wrongful detention, he claims he can prove his innocence.

While in prison, his wife has advanced her porn empire to staggering financial heights to the extent that she lives in a palatial home and has a chauffeur-driven Jaguar sedan.

The new chiefs at the Met are preparing for a lawsuit while the “old dogs” are putting their old tricks into action. From where did the money come to start her business and where actually was her husband on the night of the murder?

Curious that no one had asked these questions decades ago, but the UCOS squad is asking them now and are getting new revealing answers.

“Do you men have jackets and ties?” Sandra asks her team. “We’re going to Buckingham Palace.” It has been discovered that a painting in the Queen’s collection is a forgery.

Sandra has already declined the offer to investigate as she reminds her bosses, “That is a job for the Forgery and Recovery Squad, not us.” They agree, however, but because of her success with recent investigations and the need for utmost discretion, UCOS will investigate.

They are met at the Palace gallery by the Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures. Evidence does prove the painting a forgery. The team also discovers the name of the forger and the art school which he attended.

Next to determine is who commissioned, paid for and sold the work to the Palace in the first place. As their investigation develops so does increase the number of suspects with some having recently died under curious circumstances.

Suspicions point to the involvement of the former Surveyor, his acquaintances and gallery associates. There also looms the possibility that other paintings in the collection are fakes. This could lead to a very large and lucrative forgery ring. The team continues to investigate with their old and proven tricks.

 “Should See” for an highly original, light hearted look into police investigations conducted by a group of varied and very human individuals. Each episode revolves around a new crime from its inception years ago to its present and unforeseen conclusion.


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