Saturday 16 February 2008

Ashes to Ashes

The most original crime series on British television since the wonderful Jonathan Creek was, in my opinion, Life on Mars. Admittedly, I don’t watch much tv, but that show really was something out of the ordinary. The plotting was at times haphazard and DI Sam Tyler’s time travelling between Manchester past and present demanded plenty of suspended disbelief, but for style, originality and wit, the show was hard to beat, while the macho Gene Hunt, brilliantly played by Philip Glenister, was surely the best new cop on the block in many years.

Life on Mars, like Sam Tyler, may be dead and gone, but now we have Ashes to Ashes, in which Glenister returns, this time in London, with much the same team as before, but a female co-star in DI Alex Drake, aka Keeley Hawes. I’ve not seen much of Hawes in the past – having missed Spooks, which I gather was very good – but she is certainly glamorous enough to keep Gene Hunt happy.

A follow-up to such a ground-breaking show as Life on Mars will inevitably suffer by comparison. But I enjoyed the first episode, in which poor old Alex is shot by a weird man who has somehow managed to evade the clutches of a team of armed detectives and hidden himself in Alex’s car: plausibility continues not to be the strongest feature of the story-lines. Evidently the gunman has some connection with her past life, and there’s a mystery about the deaths of her parents. We know from Life on Mars that, to have any chance of regaining consciousness, Alex will have to solve the mystery in collaboration with Gene and his team. I’m eagerly anticipating future episodes.


pattinase (abbott) said...

I still have the last three episodes of "Life on Mars" to watch on dvr. I understand they are making a US version but they'll never get it right. Looking forward to Ashes to Ashes here.

Martin Edwards said...

Patti, I agree. Hard to see how the very British feel of Life on Mars will translate into an American version. You'll enjoy the last three episodes, I'm sure.

Maxine Clarke said...

I very rarely watch TV but, for teenage daughter reasons, I did see Life on Mars on DVD, and have seen the first 2 episodes of Ashes to Ashes. I like it (though I hated the first 20 mins of episode 1 -- leaving her daughter in the car like that -- how realistic was that? and so on.)

I like the way that Keeley H is so convinced she is living in an illusion, which not only paves the way for all her psychology gobbeldegook, but also allows us to see the 80s not as they really were, but through her eyes, in exaggeration, eg the parodies of cop shows, punk, Thatcher's Britain, Docklands, etc.

I do think that KH's state of undress, etc, is not strictly necessary but I understand the need for ratings...and she's easy on anyone's eye. I first remember seeing her in Our Mutual Friend, in which she was very good, and she subsequently cropped up in Tipping the Velvet, based on a Sarah Waters book. One of the many DVDs in my cupboard that I haven't watched is KH in Hardy's Under the Greenwood Tree.