Sam Tyler – Rest in Peace (finally)


So, Ashes to Ashes reached a conclusion last Friday (21st May 2010) and it would seem that along with DI Alex Drake we also say goodbye to everyone else including Gene Hunt himself. More interestingly we finally know what happened to Sam Tyler both in our world (at the end of Life on Mars) and in this world (between Life and Ashes). And therein lays the problem.

I’ll come clean immediately; I thought (like millions of others) that Life on Mars was fantastic and hung on every scene and enjoyed every episode and felt that Sam’s suicide (in our world) was the only possible ending. I was worried that the return to the 80s wouldn’t work, and having suffered the first episode of Ashes I decided to give it a miss – I just couldn’t take the Keely Hawes portrayal of DI Alex Drake, nor could I take the 80s setting seriously (this probably because I remember it too well). As the series has progressed the 80s is more in vogue (including in government with a (sort of) return to the Tories [as also alluded to in Labour propaganda which compared Cameron to Hunt and backfired. But I digress.])

With the show ending I thought I would give it one last shot, so sat down for the last episode (and it didn’t seem to matter that I’d missed part one of a two part story). As is well documented elsewhere we get to understand why the world of Gene Hunt exists, learn the ‘truth’ about more characters than we might have expected and get a resolution for most characters. This also includes telling us what finally happened in this world to Sam Tyler and why the two series are connected in more than just Alex Drake’s mind (or so we believe).

The plot device in the episode was IMHO not bad, although I did realise who the dead body would be before the reveal, and overall the writers put together a decent ending. I would suggest, though, that this means we can go no further, short of doing  a Lost or a Heroes there are no more mysteries to layer on, and so with understanding comes closure.

I also suggest that the series as whole never escaped from the shadow of Life on Mars – although Sam Tyler is never actually in this series, his presence is implied everywhere; at any turn we half-expect to find him appear genie like to sort out DI Drake and let her return to her ‘real’ life. He doesn’t.

Not all is grim, the show seemed to keep to production values, the secondary characters (Ray, Chris and Shaz) are solid until the end, the Quattro is a great icon and Gene Hunt is a fantastic character right until the end – oh how we will miss him; even as the show approaches its denouement (dust to dust) we have such marvellous lines as (and I misquote):

‘If you can get reconnoitre into a sentence I’ll buy you a fish supper.’

So, overall was Ashes to Ashes worth the effort? For me no, but not being as good as Life on Mars is a description that applies to almost all TV shows and should not be seen as a fatal flaw.

Advertisements

About Tony Jones
Big Finish writer, reviewer and blogger, I'm interested in science fiction and Doctor Who. I review for CultBox, The Doctor Who Companion and others. I am also Audio Drama editor for Starburst Magazine, and write the occasional piece for Vortex, the BSFA critical magazine.

7 Responses to Sam Tyler – Rest in Peace (finally)

  1. Pingback: Rebel Yell? « Reality Checkpoint

  2. Pingback: Rebel Yell? « Red Rocket Rising

  3. Pingback: Red Rocket Rising » Rebel Yell?

  4. Laura Dash says:

    You’re wrong. Lom and Ata were both television and visual perfection. Both as stunning and mind blowing as eachother in different ways. Ata, for me had much stronger personalities – (Ray and Chris played much bigger parts, and bought fantastic comical elements to the show). It was much more complicated, dark, revealing, truthful and had amazing hidden visual secrets/messages/foreshadow-ments, you only discover/notice having watched it through the second/third/tenth time… (Which I do!) Which you would know if you’d stuck it out. You have really missed out on something magical. It’s one of those programs that actually become your life. I’m urging you please watch it! Alex Drake is one of the most endearing, strong, inspiring characters I’ve ever watched, not just female, every bit as much as Sam and more, and Keeley is amazing! And so beautiful! So I urge you pleeeeease watch it! You’d do yourself a favour you’d remember forever Xo

    • HelmStone says:

      Laura – thanks for the comments, each to their own and while I’m sure there is plenty I have missed I’m afraid life is too short to re-watch this for me!

  5. rachel geller says:

    I also disagree! The more times I watch the more I enjoy it and the more fascinated, addicted and obsessed I become. I wish I was Alex. 😦 the 80s were amazing and so was ata. You learn the truth about the whole lom/ata world… There’s no point in Lom without Ata! Why was Sam even there?! It was the police’s judgement day! Are they good – go to heaven (Gene) or bad/corrupt – go to hell (DCI Keats) – that’s why Keats tries to take them ‘down’ and when he took Viv’s soul after he did a corrupt thing, and that other police woman.* They were all destined to die anyway. So sad…
    *P.S. Just saying – the episode before Viv dies, one of the final shots is of Gene standing in his office, you see him through the glass, reflections challenge your trust in his personality, and show a hidden or different, darker side you didn’t know existed within that character, this is foreshadowing Viv’s betrail in the next episode. Also, Viv’s reflection is shown subtley through it. His reflection is on Gene, I believe this to be because Gene could have saved him. Viv went to Gene for help but he wouldn’t listen, which is why it’s so sad Keats took his soul, he was never a bad man. He just made a mistake, and I hope somehow he escaped Keats’/the police force’s Satan’s hell…

    • HelmStone says:

      Rachel,

      Thanks for the comments – amazing how I get two comments on the same piece only a few minutes apart when the piece is rather old now! Show’s you how the internet works I suppose!

      As I said to Laura I happily accept I have missed something but for me I have invested all the time I intend to in the show.

      Thanks again

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: