It pains me to say that I found this episode of Ashes to Ashes distinctly average. Although average A2A is still a Himalayan mile better than a lot of TV drama.
The main focus was on the case of the week, and unfortunately I’d guessed that the undercover cop had gone to the dark side in the first fifteen minutes. The dark side being Terry Stafford (played by Peter Guiness, a man who is to crime drama casting supremos, what Terrence Hardiman is to children’s drama casting supremos looking for someone sinister).
Terry is nasty piece of work – just the kind of scum Gene thrives on bringing down – and he’s also a thorn in the side of DCI Wilson from a nieghbouring division.
Gene is less than chuffed to find Wilson running undercover cop Louise Gardiner on his patch, and when Keats gives him the okay to start digging, Gene gets out his biggest shovel. (This scene really felt like Keats was the teacher asking Gene to show that he could play nicely with others.)
It’s not long before Gene blows Louise’s cover, pulls in Terry’s son Daniel (very much his father’s boy), and we all slowly crawl towards the inevitable shoot-out (with added prowling round a mannequin factory).
But as I said at the beginning, even average A2A is worth watching. This week we discovered the truth behind the vandalism of the Blue Peter garden (remember that?). You’ve guessed it, it’s Gene ‘restraining’ a suspect.
Some of the best lines were almost thrown away. As Gene and Alex leave DCI Wilson’s office, we just catch the words, “Nice tits.” Alex asks if she really heard him say that, to which Gene replies, “The man’s a cripple – have a heart.” I enjoyed Gene’s “The early bird that bags the bastard” line too.
Jim (Keats) fixing it for Chris to keep his job (after Louise manipulated him into beating Daniel Stafford to a pulp in the cells) was nicely done too.
Personally, my favourite moment was Gene trying to rouse Alex from her chloroformed stupor. It’s a neat play on the viewer’s conflicted desire to see Gene and Alex kiss (and the knowledge that the whole thing will be ruined if they ever do). As he leans in to give her the kiss of life, having fiddled self-consciously with that skew-whiff tie of his, we cut to Alex’s vision of her self being buried alive, there’s a scream, and she comes back to consciousness with a jolt. Poor Gene.
As for the ongoing mystery, the writers are trying to content us with the tiniest crumbs: missing files, messages from a junkie (“You belong here”), mystical graffiti (Gene loves Sam), plus the usual stars/6-6-20 stuff. I am wondering if Louise was from the future – the way Keats spoke to her about not giving up echoed the pep-talks he gives Alex. I am, no doubt being suckered by another red herring…
Speaking of Keats and his manner of speaking, he increasingly reminds me of the Daily Mail hectoring the BBC – pointless pressurising based on little more than prejudice, and eager rubbing of salt into wounds when small mistakes are made. I do hope the writers have a suitable nasty end in mind for him.
Next week promises to give us more on Sam Tyler, as well as a who-can-pee-the-highest contest between Gene (I’m hoping Philip Glenister will release his inner man-beast in full) and DCI Litton (Lee Ross from the excellent Press Gang). Excellent – I have every faith that things will only get better from here.
Posted by Jo the Hat.