Ashes to Ashes – Series 3, Episode 1.


This is reviewing the first episode so if you haven’t seen it and are wanting to, don’t read.

Unlike the rest of the world, I have not had to wait a year for this new series, due to having watched the entire of ‘Life On Mars’ and the first two series of ‘Ashes to Ashes’ in the last few weeks. Late to the game but doesn’t matter as I’m here now!

That doesn’t mean there was a lack of anticipation – indeed, I was just as excited about the clock striking 9:00pm on Friday as I was when the last actually exciting television programme aired. There are no examples here as I can’t remember being this excited about a television programme in a very long time.

SO WHAT HAPPENED? The last we saw, DI Alex Drake had been shot by Gene Hunt (accidentally..), who is now on the run, and that sends her into a coma in 1982. Which means she wakes up in 2009, sends her daughter to her ex-husband so she can sort things out (I feel this may be a good point? ‘Molls’ seems to be holding her back from enjoying the 80s enough), has some counselling, and then goes shopping. On this trip, she finds an excellent looking game ‘Legal Force’, with the rest of the team posing with guns on the front (I want this game to be invented), and then she sees visions of her team mates visiting her in the hospital in the 80s. LOADS of them, as the amount of screens in a technology shop is not small. (“This is why you shouldn’t go to Currys after a coma”. A fair point from my watching companion.) Finally, after a bit of dithering, Gene Hunt visits and slaps the comatose Drake to wake her up (“Wakey wakey, Drakey”), in 1983, and we’re back on track.

“Where did you go?” asks Alex of Gene.
“Abroad – the Isle of Wight.”
It’s comforting to know the script is just as good.

“Fire up the Quattro” comes in remarkable style as Gene and Drake return to CID to the sound of ‘Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This’. Awesome stuff!

Not so awesome was the devastating (yes, this word is appropriate) news that SHAZ AND CHRIS ARE NO LONGER TOGETHER. What the hell, script writers?! You have literally ruined my favourite fictional couple! I am most disappointed. However, it is pleasant to see they still have chemistry, and my small hopes now lie in that the series will culminate in their lovely wedding, which has been put on hold as they can’t string the engagement out for 8 more episodes.

The episode centres around to main ‘things’ (these could also be story lines I suppose), namely the kidnapping of a young girl, and what is happening in the Gene Hunt – Alex Drake – Raymondo – DCI Jim Keats run of things. This last name is owned by one of the most hideous, slimy, sleazy, two-faced bastards I think that has ever been written, and not only am I most upset that he even exists, I am also incredibly disappointed that Alex Drake appears to be liking him?! I mean come on! Him? Gene Hunt? Do you even have to ask?! I am beginning to question Drake’s personality. I believe, irritatingly, that this character will be relatively recurring – I was hoping someone might shoot him for just being alive – but I think he’s quite integral to the whole thing. Lame. Anyway, so that’s happening, Shaz and Chris are not together, we’ve kind of lost the tension between Hunt and Drake, possibly due to the new DCI (although it’s quite obvious Hunt despises Jim Keats as much as myself), and yet I still loved it.

The kidnapping is rounded up in the team’s usual style of intelligence and violence, and everything gets sorted (obviously). I feel this side of the story showed how well the team works now it’s back together. The trailer for next week looks excellently exciting. But if Shaz resigns from the force I may have to resign from watching… Can’t lose a favourite character as well as the relationship! Dear jesus.

Best lines from this week:

“Hopefully he’s with Christ.”
“And where can we find this ‘Christ’?”

“I couldn’t find grapes so I brought… A melon.”

“Come on Drakey, you weren’t that shot!”

“They asked all sorts of questions they already knew the answers too!”
“Rhetorical..”
“No, no it was definitely English.”

And I am SO EXCITED already about next week.

Television Times – Ashes to Ashes (an introduction).


Or, why I love Gene Hunt.

So. The great debate. Should this spin-off from Life On Mars ever have been allowed to occur – does it taint its marvellous predecessor – or, does it overshadow and outrun Life On Mars, and viewers are very happy that there are many more hours of Gene Hunt to be enjoyed?

As much as I liked Life On Mars, I think I have to hand it to Ashes. This is a hugely controversial point, but I find Keeley Hawes (DI Alex Drake) gives a much more convincing performance than the lead in Life On Mars, John Simm, who plays Sam Tyler. This may be slightly down to the characters themselves, as Alex Drake knows where she is, she has already read about the characters, and she seems, therefore, less insane than Sam Tyler. The viewer is able to relax more in this series, and enjoy the plot lines, the acting, the script – everything really – as, in Life On Mars, you’re not constantly thinking “Oh GOD he’s GOING TO DIE” or “Just shut up and enjoy the 70s maybe?”, and you’re not living in fear that Alex Drake is going to cease to exist because of everything that has happened before. So it is a more relaxing and enjoyable series as a whole, I prefer the performance and character of Alex Drake, and aside from all of that, you still get all the goodness that was first created in Life On Mars, but in the 80s with (potentially) better music. What’s not to like?!

Criticisms have ranged from Keeley Hawes not delivering a believable enough performance (despite being nominated for various awards), to the idea that the writers were just doing what they did with Life On Mars, but more of it, and with a woman. Now I’m not a feminist, but Keeley Hawes does make a decent police officer, and even if you don’t like that, surely the hilarious tension between Alex Drake and Gene Hunt makes for very entertaining viewing? Much more so than the love-hate relationship between Gene Hunt and Sam Tyler anyway.

Now despite the character of Gene Hunt having reformed slightly, he stills retains what makes him him:

“I am just trying to get this man arrested for murder, if that makes me a fascist, then Heil bloody Hitler!”

And despite having written this with only two out of the three original writers, I feel the script is still just as good, if not better than Life On Mars. Ashes also includes one of my favourites ‘romances’ (what a hideous word in this context), between DC Chris Skelton and WPC Sharon Granger (‘Shaz’), which is SO ADORABLE YOU JUST WANT THEM TO RUN OFF INTO A SUNSET. That paralleled with the somewhat explosive relationship between Alex Drake and Gene Hunt is particularly well done.

Basically, Ashes is just as good, if not miles better than, Life On Mars, and since I have now caught up with all available series (within about 2 weeks), I shall be reviewing each new episode of series 3, shown on Fridays, BBC 1, at 9pm. Watch it bitches. Or bastards.

(And I’d like to point out I chose the series 2 trailer due to the awesome driving and genius music, not for the violence)