New Tricks: Part of a Whole

“We walk without fear because we are the law, you understand? And the law can go everywhere in pursuit of its inquiries.”

Terry Pratchett

Sorry to use a Terry Pratchett quote two days running, but this one is just perfect for this episode of New Tricks. Can you guess why?


Yes, that’s right. British Intelligence, again. Except this week, the stakes are much higher. We have explosions, mysterious meetings in car parks, guns and safe houses. And an out-of-the-way police department staffed by ex-coppers, by way of light relief.

From what I could gather, it seems that Strickland went on an intelligence-gathering raid for MI5 once, in the dim and distant past, of course, which makes it an “unsolved crime and open case”. Now, someone is targeting the people involved in that raid – which means Strickland, along with our old friend Steven Fisher (remember that deeply smug person from the first episode of the series?) are in mortal danger. UCOS is on hand to solve the crime and uncover corruption at the very heart of the government…

Now, hang on a second. As has previously been observed, UCOS is a minor police department operating out of a basement consisting of three old codgers who aren’t policemen any more and one woman whose police career has stalled. They have no firearms training, no security clearance and no cool gadgets. And they’re terrible at keeping secrets. Exhibit A:

“What kind of person could make a bomb in a flat in Pimlico look like a gas explosion?”

This is a question addressed to a notorious criminal, you understand. Good procedure. Secure. If the fact that UCOS were on the case wasn’t common knowledge before, it certainly is now. Good grief.

Another thing. Mr. Fisher goes to all the trouble of making a coded telephone call (using the patented Look, I’m Speaking In Code Voice) and then explains the secret details out loud. Why? What’s the point? If anyone was listening to the phone call, they’re probably still listening now, so not only do they know what you didn’t want them to know, they also know what the secret code is!

This is why UCOS should never get involved with British Intelligence. The script-writers just can’t handle it. It’s not exactly fair on them. They thought they were working on a Agatha Christie-type murder mystery where all the suspects were in the same room, and suddenly they’re supposed to be writing a James Bond storyline!

They also don’t know how to end a James Bond storyline. See, what happens on New Tricks is, when you’ve arrested the assassin, “it’s over”. MI5 is apparently incapable of hiring another assassin. (All right, yes, I know the MI5 people got arrested in the end, but still. Strickland didn’t know that was going to happen when he said “it’s over”.)

Well, I suppose it was quite exciting. And we had the “corruption in high places” theme again. (I’m beginning to think the BBC is trying to tell us something.) But, next week, can we just have some normal murders, please?

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