Keene, N.H. - NEW TRICKS 10 When I reported on the eighth season of one of my favorite police series, "New Tricks," I commented that the show was getting stale. One of its stars, James Bolam, thought the same and he was replaced by another retired police officer on the Unsolved Crime and Open Case Squad (UCOS), Steve McAndrew (played by Denis Lawson). In the first story of Season 10, Brian Lane (Alun Armstrong) is asked to leave the team (!) and is replaced by the walking encyclopedia Danny Griffin (Nicholas Lyndhurst). So this new season was off to a fresh start.
It is available in a 3-DVD set from Acorn Media and well worth the watching. There are a lot of good one-liners from veteran UCOS survivor Gerry Standing (Dennis Waterman), who takes an immediate dislike to Danny. The plots are a little offbeat--the first story takes place in Gibraltar, for starts--and all is well. And then in the eighth episode, DS Sandra Pullman (Amanda Redman) falls for a French detective and SHE decides to leave the squad! This is the equivalent of John Nettles leaving "Midsomer Murders" and comes as more of a shock because Nettles' leaving his series was set up ahead of time.
So the big question is how any other actress could replace her. Well, someone named Tamzin Outhwaite was cast in the role of DCI Sasha Miller, and her presence in the last two episodes of Season 10 causes much friction between her and the others. Of course, she has to be given a wayward husband who has so far nothing to do with the plot.
To be brief, I think the show will survive without three-fourths of the original cast...but Amanda, you will be missed. But the show must--perhaps might--go on.
The 10 episodes are 58 minutes each, the picture is in widescreen, and the subtitles are as always most helpful.
LOVE DUETS A pleasant little CD from Warner Classics titled "Love Duets" has come my way. It offers 11 of what the title promises, sung by an American married couple named Ailyn Perez and Stephen Costello. She is of Mexican, he of Puerto Rican lineage, and their Latin American passion shows up in their performances.
The first seven tracks come from opera: "Manon," "L'Amico Fritz," "Rigoletto," "L'Elisir d'amore," "Faust," "La Traviata," and "La Boheme." I like the way Costello sounds like the village boob in the "Elisir" excerpt and am glad to hear the Faust-Marguerite love duet performed without the usual cuts.
The last four tracks draw upon Broadway musicals: "West Side Story," "Carousel," "Guys and Dolls," and "Kismet." While "This is my beloved" from "Kismet" is best heard in its original quartet form, it sounds pretty good as a duet to me.
Whether or not they are (as the blurb puts it) "America's fastest rising husband and wife opera stars" I leave to the future and to the tastes of the listener. But I think this disc is certainly worth a hearing.
BRIGHT LIGHTS Like the Energizer Bunny, the Guild Light Music series, "The Golden Age of Light Music," goes on and on and has now reached number 212, which is titled "Bright Lights." As usual, there are two dozen or more vintage recordings drawn from long-playing albums of the late 40s up to the early stereo years, played by mostly British orchestras.
According to the program notes, "This collection pays tribute to the many talented light music composers who contributed to the production music libraries operated by various London publishers to satisfy the requirements of professional users in the media." (That takes a bit of interpretation!)
Among the 25 selections, none of which are familiar to me, are "Beachcomber," "Hurly-burly," "Pastorale," "Hydro project," and "Prelude to a play." They are all lightweight and quite enjoyable. Among the players are the Brussels New Concert, New Concert, Harmonic, Danish State Radio, New Century, Queens Hall, Telecast, London Promenade, and Group-Fifty...take a breath...orchestras.
I do love this series and can recommend just about any of the 212 titles in it.