New Tricks, the British police procedural crime drama that followed the work of the fictional Unsolved Crime and Open Case Squad (UCOS) of the Metropolitan Police Service has solved its last case. Made up of a collection of retired police officers specifically recruited to reinvestigate unsolved crimes, New Tricks started as a simple one-off drama back in 2003 and quickly developed into one of the most-watched police dramas on BBC1 for over a decade.
The beginning of the end began two years ago with the departure of Alun Armstrong, James Bolam and original UCOS squad leader Sandra Pullman, played brilliantly by Amanda Redman, after series 10. Bolam’s character, the highest ranking officer on the UCOS team, officially left after series 9 but returned for series 10 to offer words of encouragement to his long-time Detective Sergeant as she contemplated leaving the team. The last original member, Gerry Standing, played by Dennis Waterman, bowed out earlier this year, leaving New Tricks with no original old dogs from the early series.
In recent years, Denis Lawson, Nicholas Lyndhurst and Larry Lamb joined Pullman’s replacement, Tamzin Outhwaite, as the new team who were faced not only with solving more obscure unsolved crimes but also, a bit unfairly, they were faced with the pressure to keep up the popularity of the series against all odds. Even though the newest ‘old dogs’ brought a welcome freshness to the series, it was almost a mountain too big to climb to completely replace the original cast which had become more like friends to those that had been with the series from its’ inception.
All told, New Tricks ran for 12 series and 107 episodes. In this day and age of ‘one-and-done’ series on television, it will be some time before another series amasses that many episodes with the kind of following New Tricks had. In the end, even with the renewed energy the new cast brought coupled with the same top-notch writing, audiences were dropping and we all know what happens when that happens.
While UCOS may have solved its last case on BBC1, the final series will make its way to American public television stations beginning in January 2016.