New Tricks: The Curate’s Egg


                                             The close-out crew

I hadn’t planned on blogging the final series of New Tricks all the way through, but why not? Let’s see it to the door, so to speak.

After the high-tension opener, signing off Dennis Waterson, this episode was a lot more business as usual. Tamzin Outhwaite was missing, still confined to hospital after her bullet wound in last week’s episode (she’s in a wheelchair in the new opening credits and I seriously hope they’re not going to hobble her like that all through the series), which makes room for the formal introduction of the last player, Larry Lamb, as former DCI Ted Case, brought in as acting Head of Ucos, much to Steve McAndrew’s disgust, Steve now being senior man in the Department. And Ted immediately gets further up Steve’s nose by describing Danny as ‘the well-dressed one’.

It’s a mainly comedy episode, based around the suspicion of the new guy that always arises when a new cast member is introduced. It’s kept fairly lightweight, and it’s mainly on Steve’s side so, to balance things out, we get a side-plot in which Danny meets Fiona’s parents, disastrously.

Fiona, for those not in the know, is the forensic scientist who’s Danny’s girlfriend, a recurring character this year, and as long as she’s this well-played by Tracy-Ann Oberman (especially when she posed in that hot dress) she can recur as often as she likes.

There’s a serious point to this digression, not in terms of the episode’s plot, but in terms of the pair and their relationship. From the moment they appear, Fiona’s parents are a deadly pair, a life-sapping due who believe that the sun shines out of the arse of Crispin, Fiona’s ex-husband, a brilliant surgeon and an all-round arsehole in terms of his marriage. Danny inverts the cliche’d set-up with a deadly, withering take-down of Crispin, and by extension Fiona’s parents for how they have collaborated in her demeaning, every word a perfectly delivered stiletto that, after a well-judged pause, has 72 years plus father going for Danny’s throat and mother smacking him round the head with an inconvenient ladle. It get’s him the girl’s attention, though.

That’s perfectly in keeping with the mature phase of the story, and it resonates with the underlying theme of the main investigation. UCOS, in response to the discovery of a murder weapon in the form of a letter-opener, re-open the case of a Vicar murdered in 2006. He was white, his wife was black, their children mixed and the Parish had been pretty bloody hateful to them, including a series of vile racist hate-mail. It was a murder that had pretty much screwed up the family very badly, that pushed your sympathy with their traumas to the forefront.

Surely it had to be a race-hate crime? But even as you said that, you knew it would not be anything so simple. Steve and Danny might not have been too certain of Ted’s superstitious little ways, but by the end they had meshed well on a case that ended up being purely personal and entirely too familial for anybody’s comfort. The flaws and the secrets that had riven the family were made only worse by the revelations that flooded out when the emotional temperature was turned up just too high. The truth, you realised, would help no-one.

Having reached a successful conclusion, Steve and Danny thanked Ted warmly for what they fondly imagined was his one-off assistance, but it’s not going to be like that, is it?

I’m not sure yet what I think of Ted Case. He’s certainly not the Gerry Standing-equivalent past history had led me to believe, but he came across a little bland to start with, but then so did Nicholas Lyndhurst in his first episode. Lamb’s got a lot to do in a little time, but Sasha Miller will be back next week, and we’ll see how the new dynamics start to shape themselves for episode 4.

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