I was a great fan of “Life on Mars”, but gave up on “Ashes to Ashes” very quickly. To my mind, whereas Philip Glenister’s Gene Hunt was an excellent supporting character and foil in LoM, promoting him to co-star altered the balance between drama and comedy for the worse (this is not a comment on Glenister or his acting, but the comic and caricaturic nature of his character).
However, now the final episode of AtA has aired – “which explains it all” – I was a little curious – not enought to watch the show, but sufficient to Google it.
Having done so, I have decided that I was right to pretend that the story ended with Series 2 of LoM, because if what I read is accurate, they just went and spoilt it.
Seems they were all dead from the start, and that Gene Hunt’s cop-shop was a kind of purgatory for dead cops. This annoys me, due to what it implies about LoM.
In LoM, we were given to think that Sam Tyler was in a coma back in his own time. The only question was – was the world he was now experiencing real in some way, was it in the past, or was it just all a dream. At the end of Series 2 he comes out of the coma, and we see him back in his own time, coping with the police force of the 21st century, with its meetings and bureaucracy. In the end he takes a long jump off a building to return to the world that was more real to him. This (literal) leap into the unknown sees him arrive just in time to save his friends from almost certain death, and find his love. As the children walk up the alley, and the test card girl turns off our screen, it is left to our own imagination what has happened, and what will happen.
But now we know – Sam was dead. Either he was dead all the time, or he was in a coma, and then recovered; and then committed suicide. Which, strictly speaking means he should have never returned to Gene Hunt’s purgatory, but instead gone straight to DCI Jim Keats’ hell instead.
I absolutely loved LoM, and when I watched the first few episodes of AtA, I thought “no good will come of this”.
I was right.