In the UK: Thursdays, 9pm, BBC1
Clearly, with all the kids off watching their XBoxes instead of TVs now, commissioners at the mainstream channels are looking at tired, worn out, older viewers who remember a better time to bolster their audience figures.
Look at New Tricks, in which a bunch of old blokes from better TV shows that we all remember from the 70s and 80s get together to fight crimes and show us how it was done in the good old days.
Now here's the flipside of that coin, in which two actors we remember from shows (and adverts) of the 80s and 90s get together to commit crimes. Course, back in those days, the gangsters were proper gentlemen weren't they. Not like the scum these days. They won't even tell proper jokes while they're breaking into your safe.
Maurice Riley and Syd Woolsey are old friends who return from the good life on the Costa del Crime to a quiet Devon fishing village. They plan to eke out their retirement fishing and availing themselves of the NHS. However, the quiet life is not for them. As their ill-gotten gains run short, they find themselves drawn back into a life of crime, only crime has moved on and they've got new things to learn.
Is it any good?
On the whole, no. You could draw afront at the standard tedious rose-tinted view of crimos from the 70s, but there wouldn't be much point: the show's just an excuse for people to whinge about being old then showing the young 'uns how it's supposed to be done. Ooh, look at Warren Clarke as he has to wear glasses to break into buildings. And he's gained weight! Lord love a duck! Would you Adam and Eve it? But he's still got what it takes, ain't he?
Dean Lennox Lewis from Shameless is there just to rescue the entire premise from the distant frontiers of implausibility as the muscle who protects the oldies from a certain kicking from the new breed; Jenny Agutter's there to prove that there's no euthanasia system in place for old actresses – they can still place eternally weary, long-suffering wives well into their 50s and 60s it turns out.
But it's really Anthony Head's vehicle as the still-competent one who can keep everything together. It's nice to see him running around being an anti-hero with an edge again (cf VR5, Buffy) after Little Britain, I grant you, but he really needs to have a better script than one that laughs at seats for old people in showers. And why does his real accent sound so fake? It's really odd...
There's a few glimmers of fun and ideas that could be fanned into proper flames over the coming weeks, but it's a largely tiresome exercise – a buddy, buddy caper comedy without many laughs designed mainly to capture an audience that can no longer reach for the off button (and can remember when you still had to).
Here's an interview with Anthony Head and his daughter, who appears as… his daughter next week.
- January 7, 2009: Review: Above Suspicion
A review of ITV's Above Suspicion