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Saturday, 3 July 2010

Ashes To Ashes

Ah, Ashes to Ashes, what a disappointment you turned out to be. After two years of deep fried awesomeness with Life on Mars, you trundle into view, with your Quattros and your machine guns and your unfunny Gene and histrionic Alex, forever screaming like a lunatic and being all, you know, slappable. You even committed the cardinal sin, for which I did not think I could ever forgive you, of making Keeley Hawes look, whisper it, something less than the eye meltingly gorgeous Goddess we all know she is. Yes, it was the end of an era. A shining beacon of hope for British telefantasy had been extinguished.

But whats this? A second season that radically improves on the first and while not exactly being a Life... calibre classic still up their with the best of the rest. Gene back to being the iconic figure we know and love. Hawes, freed from the worst excesses of the writing team finally being allowed to craft a likable and, more to the point, relatable character in Alex.

Liz White

Montseratt Lombard, though still no Liz White, becoming less of an irritant.

Not Liz White
To top it all off, a cliffhanger ending that manages, in a stroke, to reinstate all the ambiguity, mystery and just plain wtfness that the concept seemed to have lost in this new guise. In fact, it's probably true to say that what was started with this cliffhanger was far more out there than anything they ever did with Sam Tyler on Life...

So we come to Season 3. The big finish. The finale to 5 years of work by Mathew Graham et al. And what a finish it was. Looking back at what a damp squib that 1st year was, and how blah my response to it, it seemed unbelievable to me that the same show could be the biggest thing in my life (TV wise of course) 2 scant years later. I was obsessed, theorising and debating and making all sorts of wild predictions. Miraculously, a lot of my predictions were actually correct, which surprised me no end I can tell you. I must confess, I didn't suss Alex' fate but the rest of that finale I got just about spot on.

There has been some speculation, some of it quite snide, about how the writers were making it up as they went along and never really had a plan for the conclusion, or even any kind of idea as to where they were going or what any of the mysteries meant. To this I say "so what?" Regardless of whether all the answers were in the writers heads from the get go or not, what we got at the last was a finale that worked on it's own as a piece of drama while at the same time answering a lot of long standing questions in a way that respected the concepts past without pandering to it. A perfect example (and an obvious one because I don't do subtle) was the appearance of Nelson as a kind of gatekeeper character. Do we believe for one second that this was his intended role from day one? Of course not, but it could have been. It certainly doesn't contradict anything from Life On Mars and actually makes a lot of sense when you consider how that character was heavily hinted to be a kind of 'spirit guide' for Sam on that show.

So Ashes is finished for good and so is that whole world. I'm sorry to see it go but I'd be even sorrier to see it come back, because what we have is a near perfect end to a very bumpy but nevertheless exhilarating ride.

And that's the end of my look at three shows that all ended at roughly the same time. Which was bloody ages ago. Seriously, I couldn't be any less topical if I was cracking jokes about Eddie Murphys paternity woes. Blame my laptop troubles, I've been online at home maybe 5 days in the last month.

Next : No clue. We'll see.

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