Monday, May 18, 2009

TV: 'Ashes to Ashes' - Series 2, Episode 5

Ashes to Ashes Banner - Series 2

This is the episode where Alex finally meets the 'mystery man' who has been randomly sending her single red roses - according to the BBC1 blurb. After last week's five-star episode, I'm hoping this one will be just as entertaining.

Having now watched it, it wouldn't be the episode that you would encourage casual viewers to watch to 'catch-up'. Far too many names to absorb, a few red herrings along the way and a convoluted main plot involving gender-reassignment!

The episode began with Gene and the team carrying out their own unique form of deportation by pulling-over a French lorry-driver and dumping their prisoner in the back of the truck. We then see Alex at her flat, asleep, in front of the TV. She awakes to see and hear the duck-you-love-to-hate - 'Orville' worried that Alex is going to die... We're then into the opening credits. Forgetting the duck, the main plot revolves around Alex's future in-laws being the victim of a burglary and we're introduced to Alex's future husband as a 14-year-old-boy! (do try and keep up!)

As the episode continues, it's clear that this one is going to be a plodding storyline as 30 minutes into it, there have been no other references to Alex's situation (apart the 'Orville incident').

Then, BAM!!, approximately half-way through, a major plot development (at last) - we're introduced for the first time to Martin Summers, who appears at the station after-hours to Alex. He makes it clear that he comes from the same 'place' as her with the line: "There aren't a lot of people from the other World" and "[I'm]...the one person who can help you".

Alex learns he's an ex-cop who is now retired but 'disgraced' (in our time) and when asked why he doesn't want to go back, he comments: "I could do, but I don't want to" and refers to: '...a slow and painful death".

As previously mentioned, this is a complex episode. The main plot about the burglary and the identity of the burglar occupies most of the air-time. When the team discover that the chief suspect has been long-dead, this gives the plot the potential of being a complex one. Strangely (for me), I'd sussed the solution fairly early on! 

We also have a secondary story that sees Ray Carling applying to join the Army. Initially this looks as if it might be important in the overall story-arc but as it turns out, it serves no purpose in moving the plot along and appears to be there just to fill time and maybe even (deliberately?) confuse viewers.

On the plus side, there is a good selection of music from the eighties including: Atomic by Blondie and Ivory Madonna by UB40 plus others. It was just disappointing that with all the music they could have chosen, Ivory Madonna pops up again having been used in a previous episode.

Other references to the eighties continued. Apart from Orville (who I hate with a passion), there was Chris Skelton referring to the new channel, Channel 4, and specifically 'Countdown' that he confidently predicted 'will never catch on'. There was also a reference to Pebble Mill.

Perhaps the most confusing part of the episode was Alex getting closer to identifying who has been sending her the single roses. We learn that it's one Boris Johnson...but confusingly, we don't get to see him. And nor does Alex. She turns up at Luigi's restaurant (as instructed on a previous note from him), only to find another calling card - this time it says: 'sorry I missed you'.

On a parallel note, the writers upped the sexual chemistry between the two leads and there were a couple of scenes where the 'will-they-or-won't-they' plot-device was cranked up a gear. We saw a softer side of Gene Hunt and a more flirty side to Alex.

In the final scene of this episode, Alex learns that there is no record of Martin Summers ever having been a policeman - which suggests that he IS from the future. Spooky! The episode concludes with his reappearance. He confronts Alex, wanting to know if she wants his help in 'getting back'. For reasons that will I'm sure, become clear in the remaining episodes, she declines.

Best line: "About as useful as a pair of slippers for Douglas Bader..."
(Gene Hunt)

Almost the best line: "...put all your eggs in one bastard..."
(Alex Drake)

All-in-all, a rather boring episode (until the appearance of the significant character, Martin Summers half-way through). Irrelevant parts of the episode such as Ray Carling's application for the Army were just irritating because it made viewers think it was relevant to the story (maybe it will be) and the bigger story-arc. Similarly, to dangle the name of Boris in front of us and then do nothing with it is just playing with the audience.

star-two
I hate that duck! Stop playing with the audience and give us more that's relevant to Alex's predicament. This episode felt like 'The Sweeney' crossed with 'Lost' - and the only thing that's would be more disappointing would be an episode of 'Lost' crossed with an episode of 'Lost'!!!