Now I was in two minds whether to write this review, or not as last night’s episode really covered quite sensitive issues and felt more like an episode of Wire in the Blood, Messiah, or one of the other hard hitting crime dramas that IT V churn out then a sci-fi themed ‘cult’ entertainment show. But then I remembered the bit with Gene dressed up as a cowboy and when Ray burns his lip in a Brevell toaster and realised that while the show may be a lot darker than Life On Mars, it still knows how to entertain.
To get the grittier stuff out of the way first, the episode deals with the killing and mutilation of a teenage girl and the potential repeat of this crime by an emotionally disturbed waiter. This is pretty dark stuff, as I mentioned last week. Whereas Life On Mars mimicked The Sweeney in a lot of ways, Ashes To Ashes is tackling much darker subjects.
The transition to this darker tone has worked well and the show has its own feel, with Keeley Hawes making Alex Drake quite a complex character. She’s dealing with more psychological crimes and emotional conundrums then Sam ever had to face in the last show. So instead of fraud and assault, the more complex issues of drug dealing and abuse are handled. And it must be said that Ashley Pharoah and the team are tackling these issues with subtlety and great care.
So with these serious issues being the main thrust of the show, did it leave any room for fun? Well yes, from the initial car chase around the docks with the conclusios being the bad guys throwing garden gnomes full of drugs into the docks (and Chris’ subsequent job of finding them new homes) to Drake finally taking a pop at Gene Hunt for his continual sexist remarks. For all its more darker themes, there are still touches of light-hearted entertainment.
Now I don’t really want to be seen as all shallow, but one of the reasons for watching the show is Keely Hawes and her wardrobe. Whether it’s the fact that I am a child of the 80s and had a thing when I was little for Bananarama and Claire Grogen I don’t know, but DCI Alex Hunt is fast becoming an object of desire, rivalling Ornella Muti, Jenny Agutter and Caroline Munro in the ‘Geeks of a certain age love’ stakes.. It could be the posh accent, the intellect or of course it could be that those jeans are so so tight and she was dressed up as a slinky sexy cat this episode. It seems we that we have an icon of lust in the making.
And talking of Alex, this episode once again added to the complex life, flashbacks and emotional issues she has. Once again her daughter comes back to haunt her, and the sinister clown makes his uncomfortable presence known in-between flashes of Alex’s parents dying.
Once again this is a good episode that shows this new season has its own voice, relying not on the past glory of he previous series but instead fleshing out characters and creating a new environment for the established characters to evolve into. Chris is becoming something of a 80s fan, from him last week embracing Nu-romantic music to this week being the first of the team to have a kebab, he seems to be in his element with new technology and trends. Also this week Ray gets a chance to shine, the bigoted thug portrayed last season is slowly starting to mellow as he shows us a bit of emotion as he looks after some of the victims of the psychopath.
Finally Gene is still Gene, and the rock really on which this entire team of imbalanced, socially inept or confused police men and women can rely on to always see the good and the bad, the black and white of the situation. And still drink them under the table at the end of the night…