Wednesday, July 31, 2013

TV Series Review: Ashes to Ashes (season one)

Some people might remember that I used to alternate between British and American tv shows fairly regularly and might have noticed that the only British television on this blog as of late is Doctor Who related so what happened? A few things actually, one is that I did try out Being Human (the UK version) in early January and after a couple of episodes realized that I had no motivation to continue watching and that this was probably a good reason to drop the show. Right after that my semester became so busy that I didn't have time to add anything else to my watching roster so even though I've wanted to check out this show ever since I finished Life on Mars I just didn't really have the time too. What's this connection to Life on Mars (again, British version) you might ask? Well, it's a campion series basically, some of the cast, same premise, although it does have a different setting and a different main character. You don't need to have seen LoM to enjoy Ashes to Ashes, although the first five minutes here spoil what eventually happened there, for the moment anyway, I'm told that the third season of AtA finally explains all of the details for these shows and that's what I'm here for so let's get started!

Ashes to Ashes (season one)

Summary: Alex Drake was the psychiatrist who treated Sam Tyler and when she's shot on the job she's pretty sure he left an even larger impression on her than she thought since she's ended up in a situation much like he described. She's in 1981, still working as a police officer and has no clue how to get home just like Sam but something doesn't seem right. Even if she is basing this world she's in off of what he told her how would she know all the characters Sam knew down to their last personality quirks?

The Good: While I wasn't sure how well I was going to like Alex as the main character (it turns out that watching a character embarrass themselves over and over no matter the situation just feels awkward to me) but I did end up liking the relationship she and Gene had more than the relationship he and Sam had had, after two seasons of watching him slug the main character it was nice to see him thrown off his game and have to take a bit of a different approach. And, while like I said it was awkward to watch Alex go "hey I'm in a dream, I'm going to do something that I would never do in real life because it doesn't matter!" it was fun to see her genre-savyiness come through and say things like "this is important!" "why?" "because it's in my dream and therefore it must be!"

The Bad: Much like Life on Mars I did find my mind wandering a bit during the episodes and since I still don't know any contemporary British history I was a bit lost at the beginning of some of the crimes since I simply didn't have a frame of reference. I fear that's probably the series biggest barrier to entry, for an older viewer (someone whose in their late twenties or older) this probably wouldn't be a problem, they would at least realize that the creepy clown following Alex around is from the David Bowie's music video for the song "Ashes to Ashes" which I didn't find out about until I was almost done with the first season.

The Production Values: Before I watched this show I thought that I knew a little more about the 1980s than the 1970s but it turns out I know nothing so once again I'm useless if you want to know how screen accurate this show is*. Everything seemed technically sound both setting/prop wise and sound wise but honestly it shouldn't be an accomplishment if a show manages to achieve just that much.

In the end I don't have a lot to say about the show so far, I like some parts of it more than LoM and some less, overall I think I like LoM a bit better at this point but there are still two more seasons for me to watch so that could easily change. For the moment I give this a 3 out of 5 and probably won't buy it since, well, it was actually never released on DVD in the US (as far as I can tell it was broadcast once on BBCAmerica and that was it) so I would have to import it from Australia or Great Britain and I'm only going to go through that hassle for something I really adore.

*although I may have embarrassed my mother by showing her Alex Drake's perm and going "did yours look like this?" Although I only thought that since I remembered a few perms from the early 90s...

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