After I saw Ashes 1.01 for the first time, last night, my reaction was low-key disappointment, a rather cold and empty feeling. The most positive comment I could muster was “Not at all sure ... reserving judgement”. Given that I don’t get to watch much TV anyway, in any other circumstances I wouldn’t have watched this episode again, and I wouldn’t be watching next week, either.
But because I want so much for this to succeed, for us, and for Philip, I decided to watch it again this morning and see how it went. And it’s starting to pull me in.
Having watched it a second time, I can now feel the power of it much more strongly. But how many people are going to bother watching it again?
Obviously I’m seeing things I didn’t see first time round, and considering who’s making the show, I imagine there’s still a lot more there to be found yet. One of the things I’ve noticed today is Gene, sitting on his own in Luigi’s, a long way from the rest of his team. As someone else pointed out last night, in the past if he wasn’t in the midst of his team he would be sitting to the side keeping an eye on them and talking to, or just being with, Sam. There’s quite a lot in this episode to establish Gene’s loneliness, and I hope we get to explore that for its own sake, not just as a device to push him towards Alex.
I hadn’t realised how much of my early, instinctively happy reaction to Life on Mars was down to the fact that 1973 was my time. I was sixteen years old, I was living my life to the soundtrack of Life on Mars and revising for my ‘O’ Levels to Sweet, Roger Daltrey, Mott the Hoople and Suzi Quattro.
In July 1981 I had just started my third job, working for Courage just over
One thing about the music that did hit me though: at the end, Gene sitting in his office all alone, looking at the picture of Sam up on the wall. And Bryan Ferry sings “Nothing lasts for ever.” Very, very sad moment. And I simply didn’t notice it first time round. I just registered that Gene was sitting all alone, which was bad enough.
Gene was obviously as sexy as hell in Life on Mars, but in some ways he’s even more so in Ashes. Better clothes, I suppose, slightly sleeker figure, but also perhaps the hint of vulnerability helps. In Ashes so far, he’s less of a Sheriff and more of a man. A gorgeous, sexy Manc Lion.
So, revised verdict: I think I quite like it. So far.
Major Nitpick: When they’re looking at the map of where the drug deals are taking place, Gene says “The centre is here: the financial district.”
And don’t tell me Gene wouldn’t know the term, newly-arrived though he is. He has surely been introduced to the City of