Watched ‘Ashes to Ashes’ last night. Well, I watched the first ten minutes.
This blog isn’t intended for negativity, but in a spirit of constructive frankness, what was my problem?
Well, for me, ‘Ashes to Ashes’ has always been a not-quite show. I think it’s that the character of Gene Hunt made a kind of sense in the 1970’s where his outdated attitudes were always being questioned, but he makes no sense at all in the 1980’s where he’s simply become a cartoon, an anachronism spouting overwrought but oh-so-quotable crowd-pleasing pop-culture-referencing wisecracks.
The show’s format doesn’t hang together. ‘Life On Mars’ was compelling right up until the point where the clever explanation the writers had been building towards turned out to be neither clever nor an explanation. (Spoiler) As was once pointed out to me, it’s bizarre that given the choice between ‘Am I mad, in a coma, or back in time?’ they went for the least interesting option - the one the series had been saying it was all along! ‘Ashes to Ashes’ first series had a similarly nonsensical ‘twist’ explanation.
This episode started with a fun recreation of ‘Grange Hill’ which unfortunately looked nothing like ‘Grange Hill’. Then, in a later scene, Alex is walking through Soho and says to herself, apropos of FA, ‘It’s all restaurants now’. Exposition solely for the viewer’s benefit – telling us something we a) don’t need to know and b) already knew.
A few minutes later, it happened again. ‘I know it’s been hard for you, the city awash with new money and new crime and we’re asked to police it with one hand tied behind our backs’. That’s not dialogue, that’s a line from the pitch document. I felt embarrassed for the struggling actors... and decided to leave them to it.