Sticking: New Tricks

Posted on March 20, 2013



New Tricks is a British police show from 2003 that kept popping up in my Netflix queue. Maybe because Alun Armstrong was in Krull. Maybe because Amanda Redman and I share a last name (no relation that I know of).

The IMDB equates it with shows like Monk, which we loved for a long time, and with Lovejoy, which we would still love if they made any more of it.

So maybe that’s why.

We Watched It

Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman (Amanda Redman) is part of a hostage rescue that goes wrong, during which she shoots a dog. In her defense, it was behaving very aggressively and it got loose from its handler.

She gets “promoted” sideways to a basement office where she and a young uniformed officer (come back, Chiké Okonkwo, we miss you!) work on the Unsolved Crimes and Open Case Squad (UCOS). She has no budget and no resources, but she didn’t fight her way up the patriarchal ladder to Superintendent without being a fighter.

Instead of sitting quietly and shuffling papers, she recruits three retired police officers to get back in the game. Jack Halford hasn’t gotten over his wife’s death. Brian Lane has to be medicated to curb his obsessive tendencies. Gerry Standing drinks, smokes, gambles, and chases women despite his three divorces and impending grandchild.

Together, they struggle to find justice, and clash with a modern police force trying to forget how it used to do things.



Maybe it’s because I am closer to 50 than to 40 these days, but this show really resonates with me. I like watching adults deal with adult situations (and not in the porn sense) and adult relationships.

This is a show about dealing with growing older.

It’s not just that the three retirees can’t pass the physical.

It’s not just that times and ways have changed.

It’s not even their frailties – like Jack having an irregular heartbeat, or Gerry struggling with impotence.

It’s that in addition to those things, they have to struggle every day to be seen as relevant. Where younger people are just assumed to have something to contribute, the UCOS team has to prove they do every day.


In the US, our relentless pursuit of the cult of youth means that shows like Men of a Certain Age or Hot in Cleveland face an uphill battle to get on the air.

If New Tricks were ever to air in the United States, it would have to be a much more gender and ethnic diverse cast, and the cast would have to be younger. By the time it got through all the focus groups and demographic marketing, you wouldn’t have the unique magic that makes this show work.


Does it have magic? I certainly think so. It’s aired for 10 seasons in the UK. I understand that the cast is gradually changing, and they may not keep my interest after Amanda Redman leaves. Until then, though, thanks to the magic of Netflix, we’ll keep watching.

How have your viewing choices changed over time?

Posted in: television