Finally, an Ashes to Ashes review

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“A quick word about police brutality… lots of it” – Gene Hunt (1982)

The 80’s vibe that Ashes to Ashes strives to realise continues to be very compelling and convincing, with only the occasional creative camera angles and snappy editing suggesting that this is a thoroughly modern programme. While I am sure that some nitpickers can point out continuity errors, the fact that the series is (supposedly) set in the mind of Alex Drake in the moments between her life and death in 2008 means that the suspension of disbelief is quite easy. I am not sue whether these facts would have been completely grasped by any new viewer to series two of the show, because the explanation that is included in the title sequence seems, when you listen to it in isolation, sounds completely bizarre. However, if you haven’t been following the premise by now, can you point out which rock exactly you’ve been living under?

After Monday night’s episode we find ourselves half way through the second series of A2A and I have to confess that after a first series that slightly disappointed (relative to the genius that was Life on Mars), this time round the producers might (just might!) have even bettered their original show. The script, which is one of the biggest pulls for this series, sparkles with wit and irony and rattles along at a healthy pace, leading the viewer through each story, revealing clues and hints about the bigger picture though rarely going off piste to the degree that it could distract from the immediate narrative.

We have seen some fantastic stories featuring Gene Hunt and the team. The first tale about a bent copper set the tone for the following stories as the clues seemed to point to DSI “Supermac” Mackintosh being implicated in the wrong doings. The next episodes explored some nefarious activities at a gypsy camp, terrorist acts by animal rights activists and this week’s sex trafficking tale that culminated in the sudden end of the Supermac arc and the hint that something called “Project Rose” might be even more of a story.

That intriguing back story has been played out through the first four episodes where Alex has been stalked by an anonymous figure who sends roses (!) and messages that suggest he knows far more than he should about her unique circumstances. He’s even gone to the extent of kidnapping her for reasons so far unknown but I am sure that we will find out more as the next episodes play out. Gene, thankfully, has been at his acerbic best with gems like this… “Get yourself back to Liverpool and have a lovely life stealing hubcaps and being over-sentimantal” and the scene with the guard dog (I won’t spoil it for you) was just brilliant in a slightly sick kind of way. The rest of the gang are also on good form although I do wish that they would give Viv a bit more to do.  Overall, I can’t recommend this one highly enough.

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