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Monday, 12 April 2010

Ashes to Ashes, BBC1

Believe it or not I have been known to venture out on the town on Friday nights. The living room lays silent and the TV gets a well earned rest but all that silliness stopped two weeks ago when the BBC decided to schedule the final series of Ashes to Ashes on a Friday. I can’t really see the logic especially as Monday night where it sat last year is being taken up by repeats of New Tricks but whatever night they’ve plonked it on I’m just happy to have Alex, Gene, Ray and Chris back in my life.

We’re only two episodes in but in my humble opinion this final series which could be viewed as the fifth series of Life on Mars is perhaps the strongest of the lot. I frequently find myself screaming at the screen in the same way Alex does just in poor frustration of not knowing where they’re taking us. I might not have a clue where it will all go in the end but I’m along for every second of the ride.
The strength of this third series is that the series still feels as fresh, confusing and intriguing as Life on Mars did back in 2006. From interviews I’ve read with the cast the ending will answer all our questions but two episodes in and they are already more unanswered questions than a fresh box of trivial pursuit.

The second episode focused on Shaz. Throughout the first two series the female member of the gang has had virtually unnoticed in the background except for the occasional moment with Chris at the kettle so it was nice to see her come forward into the spotlight. However her episode featured perhaps the most bizarre mind boggling clue to the end of the series to date. It was so underplayed you may have even missed it but if you were as into the episode as I was there’s also a chance that when it happened you sat bolt up right with confusion.

Just as Gene tells Shaz she could make C.I.D by Christmas and asks her to accept her promotion or not she stares lifelessly into the camera and we hear a haunting few seconds of David Bowie’s Life on Mars! Why?! What could that possibly mean? That sent my head whirling is Shaz something to do with Sam Tyler? For a split second I even had a thought that there was a slight possibility that Sam had transformed into Shaz but I have more faith in the writers than that and it’s a bloomin good job I’m not coming up with an ending for the series.

Did Sam even die? Was our beloved Gene really involved? See what I mean?! So many questions!! Another strength of the series is the addition of the wonderful Daniel Mays as investigating officer Jim Keats who has such a presence within the series you can feel him looming over the characters even when he’s not on screen. We know Keats is a man not to be trusted but is there more to him than we first think? There have been a few moments in the opening episodes that have led us to believe he might belong more in Drake’s world than Gene’s. When Alex has referenced things post 1983 Keats has smiled and nodded in a knowing way making my paranoid and alert mind think that he might come from 2010?

There is no doubt for me that Ashes to Ashes is the best thing on TV at the moment and I’m happy to let it carry me to the end. Series usually struggle to keep their standard but the first two episodes have gone from strength to strength and as much as I wanted all my questions answered there’s another part of me that will be sad to see the whole thing come an end.

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