Tag Archives: Ray Carling

Ashes to Ashes (3.3): Ask not for whom the bell tolls

Normally British TV drama and a serious ‘issue’ are a bad mix. Of course, the normal rules can be pretty much suspended for Ashes to Ashes, so that even an episode taking a dark look at the realities of war doesn’t turn into a clunking great disaster.

The episode is, of course, peppered with the ongoing elements of mystery (how weird is it that Shaz is seeing stars too? Is this going to be like the end of series 4 of Doctor Who with the boundaries between worlds breaking down?) but the meat of the story is the hunt for a serial arsonist who’s at work on the eve of the 1983 General Election, and the effect it has on Ray.

Ray often feels the most caricatured of the team, but last night we really discovered his depths. When the team are called out to another arson attack (which in turn brought back memories of the fabulous London’s Burning) Ray dashes into the burning building to rescue a trapped woman. He in turn is rescued by one of the firemen and when offered the kiss of life by Chris manages to stick two fingers up at the suggestion.

The hero fireman, Andy Smith,  is a Falklands War survivor too and Ray is typically respectful of this military history. It goes without saying that he buys Andy and his fireman brother Steve, a pint or two.

Sadly it’s not long before Andy Smith is chief suspect – he has the technical expertise and motive (he’s suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, which feels a bit like calling a migraine a headache to be honest). Ray is deeply unhappy at the turn of events, and when another polling station goes up in flames, is relieved to be able to let Andy out of the cells.

All the while Jim Keats is trying to pull Ray’s strings, not to mention needling Gene and Alex unnecessarily. I know I’m not meant to like him (otherwise they wouldn’t be asking him to smile like Eugene Tooms from the X-Files), but he’s really starting to annoy me now. Nobody likes a gloater.

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Ashes to Ashes (3.1): More questions than answers

So, we have eight weeks to finally unravel what’s been going on in Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes, and we got off to a cracking start last night. From Alex’s new introduction – “My name is Alex Drake and frankly your guess is as good as mine” to our first sighting of DCI Gene Hunt – the Audi Quattro roaring across the screen to the Ride of the Valkyries, Hunt in full-on sheriff mode (it seeems Alex may harbour fantasies of being rescued from various types of badness by the Gene Genie too) – it was good to be back in Gene’s world.

Alex appeared to have gone back to the future… but it was only a dream – one she was literally slapped out of by Gene Hunt, who needed her to clear his name with D and C (Discipline and Complaints) after he accidentally shot her at the end of Series 2. Question one, what’s the significance of the news report of a body dug up in the present day?

Talking of D and C, here enters DCI Jim Keats – is he also from the future? He says he wants to help Alex, but is telling the truth? Questions two and three.

There is also the Case of the Week to solve – a little girl called Dorothy Blond has been kidnapped. Ray Carling has been running the investigation while Gene has been hiding out abroad (“the Isle of Wight. But that was shit, so I tried the Costa Brava.”) but with little success. Lucky for Dotty, Alex (yes, in red shoes) and Gene return to squabble, pull faces and eventually save the day.

Frankly it’s amazing Alex gets anything done however, what with being haunted by a dead policeman who seems to be missing half his face (Q4), stumbling on a file about Sam Tyler (Q5), and being subjected to her worst hairstyle yet.

But this isn’t really Alex’s show – I’m not sure I care whether she gets back to Molly anymore – the beating heart of the show is Gene. It may be the braggadocio and one-liners that go down in history, but it’s the vulnerability that we’re occasionally allowed to glimpse that stops him being a cartoon caricature.

The final shot of him through a rain-soaked window, whisky glass in hand, after Keats has vowed to expose his secrets and destroy his reputation, certainly pulled at my heart-strings, even as I did my best to ignore the seeds of doubt the dastardly writers have planted. Damn you Graham and Pharoah!

Still, having slept on it, my faith in the Gene Genie remains. I can’t wait to see what he makes of speed-dating next week.

Posted by Jo the Hat

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