BBC : Ashes To Ashes

Gene Hunt
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No – not a reference to the Icelandic spectre that is giving the ozone layer a brief respite from its usual stream of kerosene contrails but the BBC’s ongoing trip back to the Eighties. Gene Hunt is a god, natch, but its a shame the series is otherwise complete gibberish. Its popularity is solely due to Philip Glenister’s two fingered salute to the cult of political correctness. It endures purely because of his characterisation – the only explanation given the cobblers that is otherwise presented as a storyline. You have to feel sorry for Keeley Hawes who struggles through the pseudo-SciFi nonsense of her quest to return to the here-and-now. Amongst other continuity issues, Bolly is showing few signs of missing her daughter or any part of her former life of the future.

An attempt at menace comes in the guise of DCI Jim Keats (Daniel Mays) who has been brought in as Hunt’s nemesis. The effect falls flat and is now beyond grating. Keats hovers around, irritating the characters and the audience with his cheeky cockney creepiness. No – the popularity of the series rests with the gleeful Huntisms, political flashbacks and nostalgic product placements which endure against competition from a series of lame themes which attempt to justify the drama. Shame really but its hard to see a way to salvage the script, penned by Matthew Graham.

This is the offspring of Life on Mars by Ashley Pharoah which also had the same time-travelling tosh, was sustained by a great performance from John Simm, albeit providing a foil for Hunt’s delicious seventies’ sexist. Even then, the appeal was in Glenister’s character but the story otherwise hung together and moved along. The popularity of the genre-making series is probably what inspired similar flashbacks like Red Riding and the recently released Cemetry Junction.

Not great but still has a dwindling following, due solely to Hunt, this final series will likely fissle out with a ludicrous finale. Worth hitting the red button for Gene Hunt’s pop reel tribute after each show – a collection of Eighties gems from Top Of The Pops with an occasional pearl of wisdom from our 80’s anti-hero. Dunno who writes Hunt’s overdubs for this little treat but they are fun – imagine the Belle Stars as a “bit of posh”. Fire up the Quattro, then, and let’s head off into the nineties.

1 Comment

SimonJune 7th, 2010 at 8:05 am

Well, that’s me told ! The climactic ending put paid to most of my criticisms above, by explaining the storyline as a kind of police purgatory with Hunt and Keats fighting it out for the souls of what were all along, deceased coppers. I would love to say I saw it all coming but in truth, didn’t. Very clever – just a shame the lead up to it was poorly handled.

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