Ashes To Ashes: The Blitz Club

IT’S not a good idea to get ahead of ourselves.
But I thought I’d just say that episode two of Ashes To Ashes does not disappoint.
It confirms the TV team really has pulled this project off, despite the views of some non-believers.
That includes John Harris and Tony Parsons, who savaged Ashes To Ashes on BBC2’s Newsnight Review last night.
Any late night discussion which includes the word “postmodern” in the introduction needs to be treated with caution.
Cheshire-raised writer John was upset about the move from Manchester to London.
He also missed John Simm’s Sam Tyler and believed Ashes To Ashes was lacking in several departments.
“It makes reasonably entertaining TV – it’s very thin,” he said.
Author and writer Tony was even more vocal in his criticism.
“I thought it was unforgiveably feeble,” he commented.

Tony also felt both Philip Glenister and Gene Hunt had been short-changed.
“That character and that actor deserve a better vehicle than this clapped out old banger.”

It was left to Julie Myerson, another writer, to defend Ashes – and she tried her best.
“It’s going to have to be different – I think Keeley Hawes is terrific, actually…you’ve got something different,” she said.
“They have, quite rightly, done a new dynamic.”
She also attempted to highlight the new emotional pull of DI Alex Drake’s (Keeley Hawes) quest to return to her daughter Molly in 2008.
Something that Sam Tyler, for all of his strong desire to go “home”, simply didn’t have waiting for him.
But John and Tony were too immersed in their own views to let Julie have her say.

Every time she tried to speak, they interrupted and talked over her.
Both are, of course, entitled to their opinions – as I am mine.
There’s also a negative review in today’s Times, the second unfavourable article to be run by that newspaper.
Yet again, a tall man in a dark coat hovers over me, meaning I am sadly unable to provide a direct link to that particular review.
It may reflect the views of a section of the audience who will find Ashes a turn off.
Thankfully, the opinions that really count are those of viewers sat at home.
And my bet is that the vast majority will love Ashes To Ashes, without ever having to reach for a dictionary definition of postmodernism.
As Julie tried to point out, it’s a different show.
No-one can ever take away the brilliance of Life On Mars.

While there are, of course, links between the two dramas, Ashes To Ashes is not Life On Mars series three. The clue is in the title.
For many fans it is, quite rightly, more than just a TV show.
But let’s not lose sight of the fact that this is meant to be enjoyed as a piece of television entertainment.
There will be Sam Tyler fans who simply won’t feel able to take the Ashes To Ashes journey.
For others, there will probably be a period of adjustment while watching the first episode.
As I wrote in my first review, it took me a little while to become convinced.
Having now re-watched that opening episode, it’s actually 37 minutes and 30 seconds in to the point where Alex walks into Luigi’s.
None of which will matter, of course, to viewers who never watched Life On Mars.
Don’t worry. The positive reviews of Ashes far outweigh the few critical ones.

Personally, I think it’s top quality telly and not to be missed.
But it’s not my opinion that counts – it’s yours.
In the words of Julie Myerson last night: “Give it a chance.”
To which I’d simply add: “Trust the Gene Genie.”
Episode two features the new opening titles, new theme music and the much anticipated scenes in the Blitz Club.
They include a very different off duty WPC Shaz Granger (Montserrat Lombard) and DC Chris Skelton (Marshall Lancaster).
“We had to get all the make up – and Steve Strange was playing Fade To Grey,” Marshall told me.
“That was quite weird.”
The spark between Chris and Shaz gradually builds and becomes more significant towards the end of the series.
By which time the words of the critics may also have faded to grey.
*Ashes To Ashes begins on BBC1 at 9pm next Thursday.
Newsnight Review
Blitz Club
Blitz Club @ flickr
Lunch In Luigi’s
A Message From The Action Man
Life On Mars Goes South
Ashes To Ashes First Episode Video Clip
More Ashes To Ashes Blogs
The Railway Arms


Filed under Ashes To Ashes

11 responses to “Ashes To Ashes: The Blitz Club

  1. Alan Parkinson

    Well, I watched the first episode of ‘Ashes To Ashes’ without any prejudice. Unfortunately, Keeley Hawes does not have the acting characteristics to play opposite Phillip Glenister. I must admit that she managed to be ‘very cheesey’ with her quips, which I felt were not delivered with any acting conviction. Such a shame, as I felt it detracted from what could have been an evolution from ‘Life On Mars’. It did not grasp me in the first episode. This was the important factor in any episodic serial thriller and unfortunately, it wasn’t delivered. The ‘Gene Genie’ could not even convince me that this was a series worth setting my calender for. I can now truthfully say that the writers should have ended on the high that was ‘Life On Mars’.

  2. mick sanders

    whilst life on mars was a TV masterpiece which truly touched most who watched. I waited for months in anticipation for ashes to ashes and felt let down, where was the real gene genie?, it felt slow and laboured, no feeling of surealment as DI drake knows that she is trapped between lives, I await episode 2 and hope that the Gene Genie is back on form.

  3. chris

    Poor from the start to finish. The original series was watched by an adoring public, the second with a eye for detail. The very fact they were driving a y reg in 1981 was a very poor starting point. Then again maybe the researchers got their act together later in the series. Totally dissapointed, the beeb had a winner and totally blew it, for the sake of a few expensive cars and silly scenes that glorify the A team rather than the adult viewing public.

  4. deb

    well i have watched 2 episodes now and still find it a cliche and parody. Find myself becoming distracted and not caring what happens to the dislikable bolly knickers who i have no empathy with. No tension, it feels rushed and sloppy, just trying to squeeze in retro comic moments at all costs. John Simm had the intelligence to quit whilst ahead.

  5. Orchid

    I hated Life on Mars, didn’t like John Simm’s character at all, even though I enjoyed him in other things including Dr Who. But this, I love. Of course it’s cliched and a parody, lets face it most of the 80’s were. I find Keeley Hawes character much more interesting than Sam Tyler, her issues with her mother and journey back to her daughter are guaranteed to keep me watching. The music has brought me back to my nightclubbing days, just as Life in Mars was the background to my early teens. Ashes is an all round great nostalgia trip and I hope another series is in the offing.

  6. Hays

    Having watched 2 eps of AtA, I have to say that I am very disappointed. Think Keeley Hawes is completely unconvincing. Maybe it would have worked better if her character hadn’t read Sam’s report..? The male characters are excellent as usual, although It seems wrong for Gene to hang out in a cafe/restaurant. It would have made more sense if he had hung out at a local pub again drinking beer and scotch. Also WPC Sharon seems to serve no point to the story. It just seems like she has been added into the script at the last minutes because the directors thought they should have another female actress.
    I will try a few more eps before I turn off, although judging from the first two, I doubt I will be buying the dvd!

  7. lynne o'reilly

    Can you please inform me of the sound tracks played in the episode The Blitz Club in Ashes to Ashes. Many thanks.

  8. Ian Wylie

    Hi Lynne – with some help from my friends over at The Railway Arms, the track listing for episode two is as below. And if you haven’t done so already, check out the music discussions over at the Arms:
    The Swords of a Thousand Men: Tenpole Tudor
    The Prince: Madness
    Body Talk: Imagination
    Money: The Flying Lizards
    We Are All Prostitutes: The Pop Group
    Fade to Grey: Visage
    Souvenir: OMD
    (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thing: Heaven 17
    I Hear You Now: Jon and Vangelis
    Show Me: Dexy’s Midnight Runners
    Gertcha: Chas and Dave
    Geno: Dexy’s Midnight Runners (Heard twice)

  9. Phillip.D.Curwood

    After watching Ashes to Ashes,as a big fan of LoM i find the story just as creative and not really that identifiable with its predecessor (LoM).
    You could watch A 2 A without ever seeing an episode of LoM and still follow it from beginning to end…….i thought it was brilliant.
    Gene Hunt is still as brash as ever and putting him in that time frame doesn’t destroy any kind of character dynamics that he had previously in LoM,in fact i love the whole era of change that took place in the 80’s but Gene kind of rejects it all.
    The chemistry between him and Alex Drake is a little lack lustre to me but i feel with every passing episode it is getting better and funnier.
    Lastly i have heard rumours that John Simm might be in series 2 of A 2 A,can anyone confirm this as it sounds like a very interesting story if so ???

  10. Ian Wylie

    Hi Phillip – I’ve not seen anything to suggest that John Simm will be in series two of Ashes To Ashes, aside from obvious fan speculation in light of the fact that the writers have left the door open for Sam.

  11. Phillip Curwood

    I know this may sound a little sad but i wonder if anyone can tell me how old is Gene hunt supposed to be in Ashes to Ashes in relation to Life on Mars……………….Just curious?

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