The two-part black comedy proves broadly ribald in its first half, then swerves into violently darker territory in its second. The full package is filmed with an intentional flatness, which comically undercuts the sexy aspects of the storyline, in particular. Clunes makes his caddish would-be social climber appealing through all but his most loutish moments. While some viewers may be put off by the openness of its sex scenes, others (this writer included) will find the Clunes/Graham couplings amusing — especially in contrast to their later work together in the rom-com series William and Mary.
Acorn Media’s DVD package skimps on the extras—a filmography of the primary players and a piece on author Dibdin, basically—which is oddly suited to a character who spends his days bicycling to work at his “bucket shop” of a school. If you can see the story’s finish half an episode before our scheming lead reaches it, the voyage there is still a treat. Dirty Tricks may not be as much fun as watching Dennis Price knock off multiple Alec Guinesses, but it’s still a grand addition to the British comic tradition of wittily unscrupulous misbehavior.