Season 3, Episode 1
Ashes to Ashes 3x01 (2nd April 2010)
Ashes to Ashes is back on BBC1 Friday nights for its third and final series. At the end of the last series we were left with a cliff hanger where our heroine Alex Drake was accidentally shot in the stomach by Gene Hunt. Now it's 3 months later and 1983, Gene has gone AWOL to Spain, supposedly to avoid repercussions, and Alex has spent her time in a hospital bed with a coma. During this coma Alex is also back in the present where, after a conversation with a therapist, she enters an electronics store. There she sees our characters from 1983 on all the TV sets talking to her in bed. Then Alex is whisked off via haziness to Piccadilly Circus where Gene is talking to her on the big screens; there are a few cuts to a, no doubt important, modern BBC news report of a body being found by a farm house; after which Gene proceeds to 'Gene Hunt' Alex out of her 2010 coma with a few slaps. Lets fire up the Quattro she says. They put some Eurythmics on and skid around a bit, we're back in the 80's people.
This opening didn't hang around or make any concessions for the new viewer, even the loose semblance of a recap has been combined with the opening credits. They clearly wanted to get straight back to business, but it might have been a bit too quick in its haste to cut to the chase. Gene and Alex stroll right into the station and much to Ray's (and my) confusion start reading the case board like nothing has happened. Gene then boots Ray from his temporary DI post and we get the low down on this week's crime for Alex to solve and Gene to stumble his way through.
The plot of the week revolves around a girl being kidnapped and a ransom. Aside from some reasonably good performances from the parents, it's a predicable and forgettable plot which you've seen a million times. It could even have cut entirely and, aside from show being over a lot quicker, you wouldn't have noticed. That might have been a good idea actually as when it begins to wrap up pace goes out the window, there's a muddle of conversations and suddenly it's over and done with. Not a satisfying conclusion at all.
There were things to like about the episode though. We are introduced to a new character, Jim Keats, from the “Discipline and Complaints” department; played excellently by “oh it's him from... you know” actor Daniel Mays; who was last seen in BBC1's hustle and has also been in several features such as The Bank Job and Atonement. He appears to be Gene's new nemesis for the series and also seems to know something about Alex's situation. It'll be interesting where they take his character, Mays certainly seems up to the task.
In the end this was an okay opening, the weak crime plot-line was bookended with some good material and laughs here and there. Like Life on Mars before it, the show has never really let it's procedural aspects reign over, or prop up, its character and “weird” agendas, so short comings in those areas don't usually screw things up. Certainly not in this case when there's plenty to set up for the season.
By the end we are promised that closure is going to be brought to the world of Gene Hunt and his cohorts. I've found the last two seasons of Ashes to Ashes to trail off and I lose interest towards the end. This first episode alludes to questions about Sam's death and Gene keeping secrets. Plus, since it looks like Alex has a new ghost of a copper with a busted up face to play with, lets hope that doesn't happen this time. Episode 2 will air in two weeks on April 16th.