Review: Ashes to Ashes 1×6

Back from the dead

Some pleasing symmetry in my Ashes to Ashes viewing this week. As with last week’s episode (which I still haven’t watched all the way through), I only watched half of last night’s. The difference is that I only caught the second half rather than the first half, since we were doing something vitally important at 9pm (watching Terminator 2 on DVD). Will have to use the iPlayer to catch up at some point.

As a little experiment to determine what annoys me most about DI Drake, I tried putting my thumb between me and the TV to block her out. Turns out though, it’s her voice and everything she says that set my teeth on edge. Not sure if there’s a journal I can write that up in or not – maybe the Journal for Marginally Insane Bloggers.

All the same, it was a little bit redundant as an experiment because she wasn’t that bad last night and I thought the episode was better than previous efforts.

Firstly, for a strong, professional woman, in her dream/coma world, she doesn’t half end up needing to be rescued and carried to safety by Gene Hunt a lot. Does she have some kind of rescue complex where she needs some strong, working class type to look after her and protect her? How dismal.

Incidentally, my advice to dream Gene, as someone who’s carried a surprisingly large number of women in his time, is that while the fireman’s lift lacks elegance, it is more efficient and less liable to do your back in; it’s definitely something that he should be considering at his time of life/death, particularly given the number of times it looks like he’s going to be called on to do it – at least if he weren’t the figure of someone’s imagination.

While I can’t comment on the first half, this was clearly a Gene Hunt episode and seemed all the better for it. We’re also now starting to get the threat of death for Alex coming through clearly and far more creepily than it has before, which can only be a good thing. I can’t help wondering why, when Alex is at the point of death, her subconscious is spending an inordinate amount of time making Ray, Chris and Shazza rummage for comedy doodles in the Gene Genie’s rubbish bins, but clearly it feels it needs to spend its few meagre energy resources on that rather than keeping Alex alive. Maybe she needs to feel wanted and needed (in cartoon form) to want to stay alive and that’s the best her subconscious could come up with. I’m also not sure why she needs to constantly be proving herself wrong – some kind of self-esteem issue or just to create scenarios for her rescue complex?

All the same, for some reason, I found her less grating and almost endearing at times – maybe I’m starting to build up an immunity to her or the character has developed in more or less the way I suspected she was going to and we were supposed to dislike her from the outset and slowly to warm to her as she learns a little humility. There were some good Gene Genie moments that didn’t look like they’d been crafted expressly for novelty Christmas merchandising purposes. Ray and Chris were pretty much comedy dunces rather than real people, but there’s nothing new there. And Phil Davis is, of course, fantastic in everything.

The godfather thing is still icky.

Two episodes (?) to go then. Maybe they’re on the home stretch.

  • Two episodes and at least one more series, as it sounds like it’s already been recommissioned. Philip Glenister was talking about starting filming in the Autumn.

  • By the way, when it said Mick Ford in the writer’s credits, is that Mick Ford who played Archer in the film of Scum? Terrific actor, always wondered what had happened to him. Seems like he’s no slouch at the writing either.

  • Using the mighty power of IMDB, I can confirm that is indeed the same man. He was also the creator of Harry, that Michael Elphick/Tom Hollander thing about stringers for the tabloids which I was rather partial to.

  • Now, I don’t hate Alex as much as you do, nor do I have a problem with the mother/daughter stuff (though I think her real mum seems to cope with her nutty behaviour quite well. But didn’t Sam have parent issues in series one of LoM?). I did think this week stepped up a gear though – they have woefully underused that spooky Bowie clown, and I loved all the stuff with the ice etc…
    I have also really enjoyed the moments when Gene has shown brusque tenderness towards her (end of episode one, pouring the wine/ episode 4? when he held her and said I know…) love all that, but I’m a girl…
    Btw I DO think you’re onto something with the 80s cop show thing. Can’t help you with last week’s, but surely this week’s was The Equaliser. Gene even said it at one point!!
    Hope you enjoyed T2 – my fave of the Terminator movies.

  • The DVD player broke. Still, £17.99 from Sainsbury’s so no great loss.
    Sam had a few parent issues in series one: he popped round to visit his mum and helped her out with the rent in one episode, and the buried memory was about his dad who left when he was young. But it’s not like he dropped in every episode with a gibbering “love me, love me! I’m really your son” expression on his face.
    But as I said, she was better this week.
    The Equalizer! Nice! And I was going to go for Dempsey and Makepeace – thanks for that!
    PS “love all that, but I’m a girl…” You’ll have to talk to Marie about that…

  • Thought Marie wouldn’t agree with me! But I do write romantic fiction so I have to be excused…
    I think you may not be wrong about Dempsey and Makepeace either. Also what about Sapphire and Steel?
    I know AtoA isn’t as good as LoM but I got into LoM a bit late, and I do love the concept, and the music. And (sorry Marie, I know he’s unreconstructed ape man), but yes I am afraid I am in love with Gene Hunt too…

  • Sapphire and Steel? Maybe… I could see Alex’s tussle with the pillows possibly being Assignment 3-ish. But I found the whole bedroom/blackness thing to be a bit more Time Bandits, which – of would you look at that – came out in 1981.
    I’ve watched the first half now and I think it was probably even better than the second half. On the whole, if Ashes to Ashes had been like last night’s straight from the beginning, I’d have been singing its – and Alex Drake’s – praises by now.

  • As you haven’t reviewed last week’s episode. I shall just say three words. The Gentle Touch. Alex even has the hair. Tell me I’m wrong….

  • Haven’t even watched it yet, so I’ll be saving myself for the finale. Will let you know if I agree, but it’s always wise to remember that old saying, “Gentle Touch by hair, but C.A.T.S. Eyes by clothes” when considering these things.

  • Ok now you’ve lost me. And now I have to go. Your blog is far too distracting. As if I needed any excuse….

  • It was the sequel to The Gentle Touch: a few years later but still Maggie Forbes but as a private detective running a private eye firm (that was secretly a bunch of spies) with the assistance of Pru Standfast (Rosalyn Landor) and Fred – a young Leslie Ash (post-Happy Apple, pre-Men Behaving Badly). C.A.T.S. stood for Covert Action Thames Section and they reported to their boss Nigel, played by Don Warrington. I seem to remember Rosalyn Landor left in the second series, but I can’t remember who replaced her without accessing IMDB.

  • Oh yes, yes, now I remember. You must have a mind the size of several hundred encylopedias. I may be off beam about the GT. It’s just Gene did say to her, You’re not in the Gentle Touch, like he said I am the Equalizer the previous week. So either they’re just joshing or you’re onto something…
    I met Jill Gascoigne once. And her hair really was that curly. It makes Alex’s look positively tame…

  • MediumRob

    Maybe, but several hundred encyclopaedias about complete rubbish and that are full of typos.
    I’ve watched it now and that was a very good episode I thought. Well done that Matthew Graham. Now if only we could all forget the first five episodes or so, we’d be able to hail Ashes to Ashes as a new classic.