Friday 21 May 2010

Ashes to Ashes

I just finished watching the final episode of the BBC's Ashes to Ashes. How on earth did the writers manage to take the original Life on Mars concept and turn it into such self-absorbed tripe as was seen tonight?

Throughout this third and final season of Ashes, there seems to have been a desperate, ill-conceived attempt to shoehorn a back-story onto the secondary characters (Chris, Ray, Shaz) while at the same time trying to get the audience to believe that Gene Hunt - who has consistently been a hero figure of sorts in the previous four series - might in fact be a villain.

First, the 'character development' of the secondary cast. This was a ridiculous idea. It goes against the very reason for the success of the series' format. These characters were conceived as two-dimensional caricatures - eighties stereotypes that everyone who remembers the eighties would recognise instantly. The characters were (surely?) never intended to bring their own history and emotional background, at least not in any way that the audience was supposed to care about.

Secondly, who thought it would be a good idea to try to turn the audience against Gene Hunt, or to sew seeds of doubt in their minds? This was patently bonkers. There was no way that the viewers would accept that Hunt was anything other than the character that had been portrayed over the past four years, and all the clumsy dialogue delivered by the ghastly Jim Keats character fell a long way short of changing anyone's mind. At no point was I - or I suspect anyone else - even remotely convinced that Hunt would be revealed as anything other than some form of guardian for Drake and possibly the secondary characters too. And sure enough...

It seems to me that the attempt to botch together a bit of depth for Chris, Ray and Shaz, and Keats' interminably tedious 'report' storyline have come together to provide a final series whose concept was almost as far off the mark in terms of reading what the viewing public want, as Labour's ridiculous election posters, which failed chronically to grasp the fact that the public love Gene Hunt.

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