Hold Fire opens with a bang – literally – as Melvin and Smith tangle with an exploding car. Melvin – or rather his stunt double – is set on fire whilst Smith is caught up in the aftershock of an impressive pyrotechnics display.
Both Melvin and Smith are hospitalised, although neither are badly hurt (Melvin’s hands require attention whilst Smith has a dislocated shoulder). This could have been the end of this particular plot, but events then move in an unexpected direction as we learn that the car isn’t all it appears to be.
It’s Frazer’s call as to whether she brings in CID, but for the moment she decides not to – which later displeases Burnside. We’ve already seen him sniffing around the CAD room and when he runs into Frazer at the accident scene he’s typically forthright. “You’ve got one burnt-out bent motor, a geezer dead, another one in hospital suspected of carrying explosives, and you don’t know what you’ve got?”
Apart from this, Jim and Viv are engaged in a stake-out at a pub. This isn’t the worst job in the world, as it allows them the chance to have a few drinks and play all the video machines. We learn that Viv is much better at Out Run than Jim is ….
Ted also has a decent subplot, as he deliberately flunks his firearms retraining. Dashwood reacts caustically to the news when Conway tells him (wondering if Ted shot the instructor!) but doesn’t feel able disclose the reason why. Thar’s left to Ted later in the pub, when he obliquely discusses his day with the barmaid Sadie (Cheryl Hall). This would be Hall’s last appearance as Sadie (a semi-regular since 1984) although Hall would rack up six later credits on the show, each time as a different character.
Ted tells Sadie that it’s easy to shoot someone, and for Ted it’s obviously too easy. You wouldn’t expect such a seemingly self-confident man to be wracked with such doubts, but it’s a nice beat that serves to strengthen and deepen his character a little more.
Apart from Cheryl Hall, Hold Fire also features several other familiar faces. Walter Sparrow, someone who may not have had a very recognisable name but had a very familiar countenance, plays an elderly, garrulous patient at the hospital whilst Peter Wight, an incredibly busy actor, is the firearms instructor who gives Ted a hard time.
As so often, there’s an open-ended feeling to proceedings as the “A” case (the exploding car and the suspect at the hospital) doesn’t end the way that Burnside and the others would have hoped. It remains rather nebulous anyway, since we never learn exactly who they were and what the job, if any, was. But elsewhere there’s better news, as Jim and Viv get their man. You win some, you lose some ….