Last Man Standing
I really do think the BBC have made a colossal blunder in cancelling New Tricks after this series, but then their recent history has just been one colossal bollock after another. Dennis Waterman has now departed the series, the last original member of the cast, paving the way for Larry Lamb to step in as Ted Case, who we met during the course of tonight’s episode. It’s now a completely different programme, a superb example of refreshing and renewing on the run, so to speak, and it doesn’t deserve to die.
There was almost no humour in this episode, and a deadly seriousness throughout the complex story that crossed two eras in unravelling the death of a Police Inspector in 1982, and the true role Gerry Standing played in his death as opposed to the framed-up appearance that Gerry had actually killed someone.
The episode led with a funeral, with Steve McAndrew, Danny Griffin, Sasha Miller and Deputy Commissioner Strickland in attendance: in short, the whole of UCOS bar Gerry Standing. It was too obvious a signal, it couldn’t be Gerry’s funeral, it wasn’t going to be decided on a cheap death. But as the hours shortened in which UCOS could retain control of the case, and in which Gerry, with Danny in tow, raced down the vital evidence that laid everything bare, whilst the official investigators, Sasha and Steve, ran up against further, cleverly implanted, frames, the more and more it became impossible for this to be anyone else’s ceremony.
Lamb turned up as the only honest copper in a team that should have been investigating graft and corruption, to hand over the vital files that cleared Gerry, but also to provide the clue to the one piece of evidence that Gerry had been keeping back: that he had framed the dead Inspector Ackroyd as being an honest rather than bent cop, about to cough on the Chapman family.
Gerry had even warned Ackroyd, told him to get out, had believed all along that he had done so, until the body emerged. He had been responsible for Ackroyd’s death, and in the face of the danger it could bring to him and his family, Gerry stood up and made a statement.
It might be cliche, but within the parameters of the story, there was an inevitability to it all, leading at last to the turn of the key in a car’s ignition and the bomb that blew it all to blazes.
So it was Gerry’s funeral after all, except that there was something false to it. Gerry had known all along what he was doing, with his refusal to go into Witness Protection, because it would have destroyed his daughter’s life by having to drag her in with him. Strickland ended up going to Gerry’s gangster pal, Tommy Naylor, for help, but Gerry already had it sewn up (it’ll be interesting to see if Naylor ever pulls in that favour: he’s going to have to do it fast if he wants it).
Because the bomb went off and the car blew up but Gerry wasn’t in it. Can’t leave his old mates to mourn, so the funeral gets interrupted by a tweet with a photo of a red Mustang on a Brooklyn Street, with the Last Man Standing behind the wheel: no wonder his Caitlyn wasn’t looking that upset during the funeral.
So go it then, Dennis Waterman, a consummate performance to the last, and New Tricks is completely retooled and ready for a future that’s not got much left to it. No longer Insubstantial Airfill: this has now got ballast.