Ashes To Ashes - Series 3 (DVD)
ASHES TO ASHES follows on from the hugely successful BBC series LIFE ON MARS, and sees the return of the self styled 'Sheriff of Manchester' DCI Gene ...
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Review of "Ashes To Ashes - Series 3 (DVD)"
Trying hard to get my "mojo" back but it's proving difficult. Technical issues here also prevent me from participating as much as I could!
Series 3 of Ashes to Ashes was first aired on the BBC in April 2010. Having being addicted to Life on Mars, I had then gone on to become an addict of Ashes to Ashes and keenly awaited the start of series 3 which I understood would clear up all the questions fans of the show would have about how someone can be critically injured in the present and be catapulted back into the 70s (as was the case in Life on Mars) and the 80s (as in Ashes to Ashes).
Series 3 starts off with Alex waking up in 1983 and working with CID to solve a kidnapping case, trying to figure out who's been killing off women who have all joined the same dating agency, who's committing a series of arson attacks, tracking down a has been stand up comedian who appears to have stolen from a police charitable fund, illegal immigration and drug dealing gangs. In between all this Alex also has to contend with DCI Jim Keats who arrives at the start of the series to investigate CID, who also has it in for DCI Gene Hunt and to find out why a young police officer seems to be haunting her.
I was pretty addicted to this show from its early beginnings in series 1 of Life on Mars with the fabulous John Simm in the protagonist role following it through series 2 and then series 1-3 of Ashes to Ashes which follows DI Alex Drake from her being shot in 2008 and waking up bemused and bewildered in 1981. The focus of series 1 of Ashes to Ashes seemed to be on Alex's family who died in a car crash when she was young, and series 2 focussed partly on corruption in the force as well as Alex's determination to get back home to her daughter Molly (as was also a prime focus in series 1). Series 3 focussed on getting to find out really what the time-travelling was all about.The Life on Mars show was set up in Manchester whereas Ashes to Ashes was set in London with the 3 characters of Gene Hunt, Ray Carling and Chris Skelton having moved down “souf” to work in London.
I noticed early on in series 3 of the show that Alex didn't seem to be as bothered about her daughter Molly as she had been in previous series. I found this hard to understand in the beginning but it made more sense later in the series and definitely was cleared up by the end, even though it niggled me like mad initially. The character of Alex was obsessed with getting back home to her daughter in the earlier series. Alex and Gene continue with their "Will they, won't they?" almost romance throughout this series.I have to say here that Life on Mars was in a class of its own and was a superb show of which I was a huge fan of. Ashes to Ashes really couldn't hold a candle to Life on Mars and a lot of this had to do with the fact that Keeley Hawes is not that brilliant an actress. Overall I felt series 1 and 2 of Ashes to Ashes were considerably better than the final series which felt to be somewhat cobbled together hastily to put an end to the show's long awaited finale, tying up the loose ends so long term patient fans of the show would finally find out what it was really all about.
When the show was being aired live on TV my boss watched the final episode before me (I think I was out that evening) – although he didn’t tell me the spoilers, he said it ended just as he had imagined. As I hadn’t put a lot of thought into why everything was happening, instead just choosing to enjoy the show and the nostalgia of cheesy 80s outfits and popular music from the era in each episode, I found the ending to be a just a bit disappointing but I couldn’t honestly think of any other way it could have been tied up.It was overall an enjoyable series and I did buy all of the DVDs of both Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes and will admit to having watched them all several times over. I think the throwback to the 80s is probably something that makes me yearn somewhat for those simpler times of my teens.
As mentioned earlier the series is set in 1983, which was my final year of high school. The songs from this series of Ashes to Ashes which brought back memories of my O level years at school include: True by Spandau Ballet, Let’s Dance by David Bowie, Mad World by Tears for Fears, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper, A Town Called Malice by The Jam, , Uptown Girl by Billy Joel, Love Cats by The Cure, War Baby by Tom Robinson, Only You by Yazoo, – although it’s worth noting that some of the tracks were from the previous couple of years with Video Killed the Radio Star by The Buggles dating back to the late 70s when I was still in “middle school”! And the inclusion of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Two Tribes (not released till 1984), was an error one has to forgive them for I suppose!
Alex Drake, played by Keeley Hawes, is a police psychologist who has been shot in the present (2008) and seemingly transported back in time to the 1980s. Although, along with Gene Hunt, Hawes plays a leading role, I found her character to mostly take a back seat to the Hunt character. Her husky voice is somewhat annoying and even though I couldn’t think of a suitable alternative actress that would have played the role better, I just didn’t feel she gave it her best. I found her character in the long term spy drama Spooks to be more credible to be honest.Gene Hunt, played by Philip Glenister, is rather an iconic character who seemed to have gained cult status since the airing of Life on Mars right through Ashes to Ashes. He’s the DCI of the station and Alex’s nemesis throughout the show. He really is the star of the series, even if originally he may have been written as a secondary character, anyone who’s watched Life on Mars or Ashes to Ashes would agree that the Gene Hunt character really made the show the popular hit that it was. Hunt is portrayed as being blunt, politically incorrect, and violent but essentially a good cop. He’s not your typical hero but there’s just something quite alluring about him that women seem to fancy the pants off him throughout the series! Go figure. I found him to be my favourite character even if he did deliver some lines which you so would not get away with in today’s working world!
Ray Carling, played by Dean Andrews, is a Neanderthal Detective Sergeant (sometimes DI), who seems to have mellowed slightly since his appearance in the Life on Mars series which was set in the 70s. Ray is openly aggressive towards Sam Tyler in Life on Mars which was set in the 70s. In Ashes to Ashes we see a softer side to him a few times which he tries to brush off to return to his macho posturing again as soon as possible. We also see that he’s less of a male chauvinist in this series and shows a level of respect for Alex as a senior officer. Andrews was fabulous in the role of Ray, and went on to play Robbie (funnily enough also a copper) in Last Tango in Halifax.Chris Skelton, played by Marshall Lancaster, is a likeable Detective Constable who pretty much always got along with the protagonist Sam Tyler in Life on Mars. He’s a junior member of the Gene Genie team moved down from Manchester and is often on the receiving end of Gene Hunt’s derision and ridicule. We see Chris’ character undergo some big changes and do some real growing up in this series.
Shaz (Sharon) Grainer, played by Monserrat Lombard, is a WPC who is Chris’ love interest for most of the Ashes to Ashes series. She is in her mid 20s so is one of the youngest main characters in the show. Her character has a good relationship with both Alex and Gene with the latter being quite paternal towards her throughout the series.Luigi, played by Joseph Long, the long-suffering Italian restaurant owner where the coppers regularly visit for meals and drinks. Luigi is a likeable character and you have to feel sorry for him with the verbal abuse he regularly endures from his police customers. Alex also resides in a flat over the restaurant.
Jim Keats, played by Daniel Mays, a mysterious rival DCI who is out to get Gene Hunt. Keats is a major player in the final story where you get to see the difference between good and evil. I can’t say anymore aside from the fact that Mays was superb in the role. Some of his scenes in the last episode had me in stitches, although I suspect they weren’t really supposed to make one laugh.
Gene Hunt gets to deliver some of the best quotes of the show including the following (some potentially offensive lines below):To the team in general: “And that’s going to go down as well as a pork pie at a Jewish wedding”
To Alex: “One more word out of you Mrs Fruitcake and I’m going to hang you out the window by your knicker elastic”To Ray and Chris at a (black) colleague’s funeral: “When we were evicted from paradise (read Manchester) and sent to this southern shithole (read London), Viv came over and shook my hand and said he was sorry, but all northerners looked the same to him.”
To Ray: “And Ray if you come in here again dressed like a maths teacher I will paint your balls the colour of hazelnuts and inform a pack of squirrels that winter's coming.”To the team: “So we're looking for a bloke who's done time. That narrows it down to most of Planet Earth and the whole of Sunderland.”
To a witness: “No tea and no fags until you start talking, shitstick!”To Shaz, on hearing a witness has died in hospital: “Excellent! What else have you got for me? Burning down orphanage? Couple of char grilled kittens? You know, if the Queen Mother self combusted on my watch I'd be blamed for that and all!”
To a suspect: “Are you a dishonest little scrotum who's been buying shit lager with somebody else's chequebook?”On being given a cocktail by Luigi: “Is there any chance that I can get a drink that hasn't minced its way over here from Mayfair?”
To Alex: “Can I please have a bit of peace and bastard quiet!!?!”After his beloved car is shot to pieces: “He's killed the Quattro! He's bloody killed my Quattro! Oi! I'm arresting you for murdering my car, you dyke digging toss pot!”
The DVD discs of this series contain 8 episodes of 60 minutes each spread over 4 discs.
~*~DVD & EXTRAS~*~
Disc 1 allows you to either play all episodes or select them individually (and then select from a variety of scenes to start from) and select subtitles on or off (English is the only language the subtitles are available in). Selecting an episode individually will take you onto another screen showing an old fashioned CRT monitor with scenes from the series in the background. The second and third discs are laid out much the same.Disc 4 which includes the final 2 episodes has a documentary entitled Dust to Dust which is around 23 minutes long. The documentary includes interviews from crew such as Mathew Graham and Ashley Pharoah both Co-creators and Writers of the show who tell you this series addresses what really happened to Sam Tyler, how things are resolved for Alex Drake and who is Gene Hunt really, and the reasons behind Ray, Chris and Shaz being in this confusing world with Alex. Executive Producers Simon Crawford Collns and Jane Featherstone give their tuppence worth too. Cast interviews are included too, and it was amusing to see Glenister giving his interview, sounding quite “posh” compared to his on screen character, the legendary Gene Hunt. Hawes talks about how intense it was filming for up to 6 months with the same characters often in the same space (the offices). It’s amusing to hear the cast members talk about their experiences during their tenure on the show, e.g. when Dean Andrews mentions that he tweeted a photo of a police car during filming and all the conspiracy theorists were working overtime to figure out what he meant!
All in all, the box set is rather light on extras with just 1 additional item aside from the actual episodes. For die hard fans of the show, they would probably have hoped for episode commentary...
Overall I would give series 3 of Ashes to Ashes a decent enough 4 out of 5 stars. Although not my favourite series as already mentioned of either Life on Mars or Ashes to Ashes THIS series definitely ties up all the loose ends and brings the whole mystery of the time travelling coppers to a climax.
Main cast: Philip Glenister, Keeley Hawes, Dean Andrews, Marshall Lancaster, Monserrat Lombard, Daniel Mays
Secondary cast/guest stars: Joseph Long, Geff Francis, Joe Absolom, Roy Hudd, Camille Coduri, Nicholas Gleaves
Series creators: Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharoah
Director: David Drury
Producers: Kudos Film & Television, Howard Burch, Sue Calverley, Alison Jackson, Piers Wenger, Matthew Graham, Simon Crawford Collins, Jane Featherstone
Series Music: Edmund Butt
Original air date: 2010
DVD release date: 2010
~*~ANY FINAL WORDS?~*~
“Let’s fire up the Quattro!”
Product Information : Ashes To Ashes - Series 3 (DVD)
Manufacturer's product descriptionASHES TO ASHES follows on from the hugely successful BBC series LIFE ON MARS, and sees the return of the self styled 'Sheriff of Manchester' DCI Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister). Whereas LIFE ON MARS was a throwback to the crime-fighting style of the 1970's, ASHES TO ASHES takes you back to 'the decade that taste forgot', the 1980's.<BR><BR><BR><BR>The story continues, only this time around its 1983. DI Alex Drake is ultimately determined to find out the truth about Gene Hunt and the hidden secrets of the world she inhabits. The third and final series also marks the arrival of Scotland Yard’s DCI Jim Keats. Sent to watchfully observe the team’s performance, his presence leads to some unexpected revelations on past happenings. Prepare to be captivated by easily, the darkest of all three series.
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