Last updated : 27th March 2013
|Episode Title||Old Dog With New Tricks|
|Story Synopsis||A gangster plans to free his brother from prison by taking a "top cop" hostage.|
|UK Episode #||A03|
|UK Tx Date||13 January 1978|
|Production #||Block 1, Ep 1|
|Approx Filming Dates||13th June - 1st July 1977|
|Guest Stars||Philip Davis, Pamela Stephenson|
A great "scene-setting" episode quickly giving viewers an insight into the unconventional methods employed by CI5. The first story to be filmed and ridiculous how it wasn't actually shown first.
The storyline works well EXCEPT it seems incredulous that the villains don't know what their intended hostage actually looks like!
Favourite bits are the showdown in the carpark (and NOT just 'cos it involves Pam Stephenson - honest!), the "new recruits" lecture and the interrogation of young Billy ("I want to see my lawyer!" / "Why, son? Do you want to make a will?"). And the scene where Doyle arrives at Bodie's flat and tells Clare "You must be Betty!" is a great early example of the series' off-the-wall humour.
The pre-titles scene where all we see is the camera slowly panning away from huge door and hear the gunshots is extremely effective, IMO. This seems indicative of Brian Clemens' belief that violence and death should be implied rather than seen. Wonder what happened to that idea?! <G>
I love that funky burst of music that accompanies the lads arriving at the hospital - nice one, Laurie!
Bodie's attitude to "lowly" coppers is demonstrated with his humorous confrontation with the CID sergeant and, as we come to expect, Doyle apologises for his partner's arrogance.
Sharon notes that Martin's dialogue seems "off" and too theatrical. Yes, I would agree this is true to an extent. BUT this was the first episode and the actors needed time to find their roles (though Lew and Gordon certainly settled in very quickly indeed). I also suspect that having to redub their lines later on didn't help, either - it can't be easy to sound spontaneous when you're no longer actually there.
Although the finale to the adventure is hardly action-packed (see the BTW section), it is rounded off with more biting humour - Bodie's observation of Cowley being a "brave old bastard".
Fave line: "You CI5 boys think your the cat's whiskers, don't you?" / "Well at least we're at the right end of the cat!"
Many of the "standards" for the entire show are set up in this episode. The first time we see Bodie, for instance, he's eating something. And he peppers his dialogue with jokes in bad taste. Bodie and Doyle seem comfortable with one another most of the time but there's an edge of uncertainty as if they aren't yet completely used to the partnership nor entirely trusting. Doyle's "voice" is off – too deep, too cultured, IMO, Martin is still doing "theater". They both sound like they're reading the lines. Bodie demonstrates his erudition by mentioning Beckett – ongoing theme of Bodie quoting poetry while it's Doyle we see reading. Both men are well, if self, educated. Doyle does a nice bit as the authority figure with the higher ranking cop toward the finale and Bodie does a very good "caged tiger" act while being held hostage.
The plot is well done, multilevelled and nicely resolved. Far more complex than most American cop shows! It needs several viewing to appreciate fully.
Doyle seems more understanding of Cowley at the beginning. Both are concerned about him and both offer their advice and expertise as cop and soldier without stint when in conference with their boss. Bodie does a bit of digging at cops, clearly annoying Doyle. Bodie's flat has no security - Doyle behaves rather oddly with the girl, almost as if he resents her. Throughout Doyle drives while Bodie rides as passenger. The episode closes with them walking off together.
The furry blanket on Bodie's bed is, um, remarkable! Also one of the few times we see his hair mussed and a bit of skin. <G> Nice, that!
One of my favorite parts of the entire series is the interrogation scene with Billy: LOVELY stuff with the macho posturing and the implied physical threats. And Bodie's comment to Cowley about "just stimulating his imagination..." Terrific writing and acting there!
More of a "budgetry efficiency", really: the van the gang use to hi-jack the police station in Windsor is the same van Doyle uses as a mobile HQ (thanks to John Hammond).
According to Bodie, Turkel's mob have made off with .44-calibre Webley revolvers and Armalite rifles, yet the villains use Brownings, Colts and British Army SLRs in the subsequent siege. (Thanks to "Ashley".)
In the police station scenes, a supposedly parked blue Triumph near Cowley's Rover keeps moving about!
The first episode to be filmed and a rather problematic beginning led to delays in completing it. Gordon Jackson was unavailable early on due to commitments on the Richard Burton movie 'The Medusa Touch', so the shooting schedule was rearranged to accomodate this. Then, of course, Anthony Andrews was dropped from the production and, obviously, some scenes required reshoots with his replacement, Lewis Collins. Additionally, according to Brian Clemens in an interview he did for Timescreen magazine in 1992, the final scenes were reshot three times as LWT weren't happy with the original turn of events. But Brian himself wasn't happy with the final version!...
Ostensibly shot during June and July of 1977, official documentation reveals that the scenes involving the police van down Keppel Street were shot in the October. However I have a suspicion that some of the police station scenes were (re-)shot in the autumn as well because several incidental characters are wearing clothes one wouldn't expect to see during summer. The lady who brings in her driving license wears a coat as do a woman and young boy entering a shop - the latter with his hood up! Gordon Jackson wore his heavy topcoat.
Phil Davis (Billy) continues to appear quite regularly in lead roles of TV dramas - such as Births, Marriages and Deaths and Face (with Robert Carlyle), though has also turned to directing in recent years (eg Prime Suspect V). Older productions include Quadrophenia and Robin of Sherwood.
John Judd (Inspector) seems to be forever playing police officers (as he did in 'In the Public Interest') but also appeared in the highly controversial juvenile prison drama Scum and the recent BBC remake of Little Lord Fauntleroy.
Pamela Stephenson (Nurse Emma) reappeared in 'Stakeout' and 'Rogue'. She went on to great success with the comedy series Not the Nine O'Clock News and later married comedian Billy Connolly. Unfortunately she was then landed with bimbo-ish roles - eg the daffy blonde in Superman III. She dropped out of acting in the late 1980s (a great loss to us all!) and took up psychiatry.
Johnny Shannon - wearing a toupe and actually having his voice redubbed by a different actor! - would reappear briefly in 'A Man Called Quinn'. He also appeared in both Sweeney movies.
Anthony Morton appeared as a regular in the laughable Crossroads, I think (played a chef?).
Sammie Winmill (lady at the Police Station) appeared in the early seasons of the cult kids show The Tomorrow People. Coincidentally she also appeared (for about two seconds!) in the first episode of The New Avengers but was uncredited - unfortunately her scenes were snipped during final editing.
The Music&Effects audio track used to make up the BRITE digital print we see today appears to have suffered over the years, exhibiting a high level of hiss - similar to a cheap tape cassette. In an attempt to ameliorate this problem a degree of noise reduction (again, similar to the Dolby system used in domestic audiotapes) has been applied but has had the effect of completely silencing some distant background noises such as birdsong, rustling trees and traffic. The problem is particularly noticeable during pauses in dialogue.
The "grafting" join between the second-season title sequence and the first post-titles scene manifests itself as a white-coloured mark (in the brief black section between the two). This appears to indicate that the grafting was actually carried out on the episode's negative or inter-negative, which is rather surprising!
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