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parrot_knight [userpic]

Ashes to Ashes 1.1

February 8th, 2008 (12:49 am)

I was sorry to see that so many Life on Mars fans seem to have disliked the first episode, because I think that this opened out the Genesphere rather well. The most obvious change from the world we saw in Life on Mars is that Gene, Ray, Chris and co have existences beyond that experienced directly by the trauma-suffering fantasiser. The implications will doubtless be explored further; the audience is being encouraged to think of this world as Gene's (and Philip Glenister is billed above Keeley Hawes in the credits). Has Alex done her research, one wonders - are Gene Hunt, Ray Carling, Chris Skelton in long-term hospital beds, or graves, somewhere? A commentator on the former Outpost Gallifrey forum's Ashes to Ashes thread (registration required) suggests that the Geneverse is Purgatory, where Gene is a presiding angel/demon, and all the other police characters are dead or almost so. Note the careful structuring of the dialogue where Ray explains how Sam disappeared, explaining how he seemed to have run out on his colleagues but came back and saved the day, and then stayed seven years, a significance that Alex Drake misses.

Looking forward to seeing the opening titles next week, as those of Life on Mars - likewise introduced from episode two - helped set the tone.

Comments

Posted by: bunn (bunn)
Posted at: February 8th, 2008 08:06 am (UTC)

It was never going to be Life on Mars, just because the mystery has been clarified, but a lot of fun, none the less.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: February 8th, 2008 10:35 am (UTC)
Kirkcudbright Samoyed

I think that there is a new mystery - the 'communications' Alex receives are less obviously conversations by a hospital bed, for example, and we are being led (so far) to believe that Alex is dead or almost dead; and/or there is much more to '1981' than she thinks. While I think that there were occasional scenes in Life on Mars where Sam wasn't present, these were very few and far between and could be rationalised away, normally through Sam's imminent arrival on camera. Here, we see Shaz's kidnap and Alex isn't around, IIRC; and Gene is alone in his office at the end, seemingly autonomous of Alex's imagination.

Posted by: Pellegrina (pellegrina)
Posted at: February 8th, 2008 08:13 am (UTC)
mouse in cheese

Er... I missed the significance too!

My feeling was: better than I'd feared, not quite as good as I'd hoped. Not convinced Keeley Hawes can step into John Simm's shoes, certainly not while the focus seems to be on her popstar legs and inability to keep clothing on her shoulder. I liked that Life on Mars is acknowledged, but Ashes to Ashes is consequently more self-referential, with Sam's memories of the future displaced by Alex's/our memories of the show.

What bugs me is that nobody, not even Sam, seems to have tried to track down Gene Hunt et al in the present day timeline to see what happened to them; it would be the obvious thing to do.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: February 8th, 2008 10:46 am (UTC)
Sam_Annie_roof

The most obvious awkwardness in this being a follow-up, I thought, was that the audience was expected to be on tenterhooks hoping that the heroine would get shot as soon as possible so it could be reunited with Gene, Ray and Chris. Unlike Life on Mars, where the kidnapping of Maya (lots of parallels between the first episode of LoM and this episode) was built up as if it was to be the focus of the episode, and Sam's accident came as a terrific jolt in the narrative, now we knew what was coming. Alex is our hapless surrogate now in a way that Sam wasn't.

Posted by: Pellegrina (pellegrina)
Posted at: February 8th, 2008 02:58 pm (UTC)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: February 8th, 2008 04:27 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Pellegrina (pellegrina)
Posted at: February 8th, 2008 04:41 pm (UTC)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: February 8th, 2008 04:49 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Pellegrina (pellegrina)
Posted at: February 8th, 2008 06:51 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Virgers! How are we doing with those explosives? (tree_and_leaf)
Posted at: February 8th, 2008 08:33 am (UTC)
applied bollocks

I'm sorry not to be able to see this - iPlayer is still PC only, isn't it?

I like the Purgatory theory; before the end of LoM I had developed a theory that it was all about Jungian analysis, with Gene as the Shadow and Annie as the anima, and that Sam had to accept them both before he went back (please don't ask me how I thought that would work in practice!) - but that's been canon-shafted.

Posted by: zephyr (vescoiya)
Posted at: February 8th, 2008 10:15 am (UTC)

If it was on the bbc you can stream onto a mac just not download the material. Sorry if i'm talking about the wrong player.

Posted by: Virgers! How are we doing with those explosives? (tree_and_leaf)
Posted at: February 8th, 2008 10:20 am (UTC)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: February 8th, 2008 10:56 am (UTC)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: February 8th, 2008 10:55 am (UTC)
regeneration

I read the OUP Very Short Introduction to Jung a few years ago, but it was written in an off-puttingly cultish tone and I remember little of it. I like the theory, though, even though it wasn't borne out by what we saw in the final episode.

My personal theory is that at the end of LoM Sam realises he's a fictional character who has been given the opportunity to choose which story to be in - what is real for him, in other words. I appreciate that this may be a craven workaround my awkwardness with the suicide issue...

Posted by: Virgers! How are we doing with those explosives? (tree_and_leaf)
Posted at: February 8th, 2008 11:06 am (UTC)

Posted by: viala_qilarre (viala_qilarre)
Posted at: February 8th, 2008 08:50 am (UTC)

Life on Mars had two components that made it compulsive, other than the excellent performances of the two male leads - one was the classic cop show pastiche element, which frankly wsa enough to carry most episodes in itself, and the other was the central mystery of the conceit. I feel that the latter part has been explained away entirely, and in a disappointingly mundane way (I really disliked the LoM finale, I felt it was a big cop-out), so Ashes to Ashes starts off at a big disadvantage. During LoM we invested in the characters because we weren't at all sure that they weren't real. Now we seem pretty sure that they are not - so why bother?

That leaves the cop-show bit, and of course it may well turn out to be entertaining anyway, along those lines alone. But that left me feeling irritated every time we went into another pseudo dream-sequence. Enough of the phantom Pierrots and the Cute Child, let's just have the car chases. I liked the suggestion that Gene is beginning to feel constrained by the creeping advance of the PC brigade.

I'm afraid the heroine started to remind me of the character from Catherine Tate's show, the mystic police detective who spouts nonsense to her baffled male sidekick. She even has the same soft delivery.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: February 8th, 2008 11:03 am (UTC)
Sam_Annie_roof

The question of whether or not the characters are real, and if so what qualities of reality they possess, has been reopened, as I've indicated above... and I like both the dream sequences (which have a different content to those in Life on Mars) and the car chases. If Gene is an increasingly marginalized figure in the 1981 Met, he's increasingly reliant on acting out his own fantasies in the job, perhaps.

Posted by: Pellegrina (pellegrina)
Posted at: February 8th, 2008 02:52 pm (UTC)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: February 8th, 2008 04:50 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Adilo Creamon (the_marquis)
Posted at: February 8th, 2008 05:38 pm (UTC)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: February 8th, 2008 06:08 pm (UTC)

Posted by: wrong but wromantic (sally_maria)
Posted at: February 8th, 2008 10:14 am (UTC)
Danny bear

Again we agree, I thought it was a good beginning and I'm interested to see the difference and similarities between the two scenarios.

I do wonder whether the kind of changes they've had to make are the kind that alienate dedicated media fans most - for fans invested in the Sam/Gene (or Sam&Gene) relationship, any storyline that replaces that is going to struggle to win them over.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: February 8th, 2008 11:10 am (UTC)
Sam_Annie_roof

There is a significant chunk of Life on Mars fandom who are refusing to have anything to do with this series, I gather, principally because of the absence of Sam. The strength of the relationship between the two was acknowledged by the press cutting on the wall at the end, of course.

Posted by: Pellegrina (pellegrina)
Posted at: February 8th, 2008 02:47 pm (UTC)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: February 8th, 2008 04:44 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Alice Dryden (huskyteer)
Posted at: February 8th, 2008 10:38 am (UTC)
2-Way Wrist iMac

I went in thinking 'my God, this sounds like bad fanfic', and loved it.

What's with turning Gene into something out of Reservoir Dogs, though?

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: February 8th, 2008 11:12 am (UTC)
JamieZoe

I still haven't seen Reservoir Dogs... but see what you mean.

If this is Alex Drake's fantasy of Gene Hunt, based on what she has learned from Sam, then perhaps we are watching bad fanfic...

Posted by: Alice Dryden (huskyteer)
Posted at: February 8th, 2008 03:30 pm (UTC)

Posted by: philmophlegm (philmophlegm)
Posted at: February 8th, 2008 03:07 pm (UTC)

Well I thought it was a lot of fun.

Preview in the newspaper at the weekend suggested that Ashes to Ashes would struggle to be as good as Life on Mars because so much of the appeal of the original series was in the particular setting and the music, and the music from the early eighties just wasn't as good.

Rubbish! I think apart from the music they were playing at the end, I had every single song from last night's episode in my music collection!

And Gene had a properly cool car - an Audi Quattro. Miles better than a brown Granada!

I think ultimately compared to the other people on this thread, I'm looking for different things from this series. I don't care about purgatory and psychoanalysis theories, just so long as Gene Hunt gets to look cool and hit people occasionally and there are plenty of references to things I remember from my childhood, like Zippy and Bungle (voiced by Roy Skelton no less).

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: February 8th, 2008 04:33 pm (UTC)
pic#70424010

I did think that Zippy and Bungle were used well; and it was around 1980/81 that I began to allow that some pop music was actually listenable, revising my post-move (from Nottingham, December 1976) abhorrence of all pop music; though I never really became a record buyer and music from before my own period was always more attractive. I almost downloaded 'Vienna' the other night, but there are lots of longeurs.

Posted by: Pellegrina (pellegrina)
Posted at: February 8th, 2008 07:04 pm (UTC)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: February 8th, 2008 07:36 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Pellegrina (pellegrina)
Posted at: February 8th, 2008 07:43 pm (UTC)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: February 8th, 2008 08:00 pm (UTC)