Sunday, 23 May 2010

Guardian In 'Just Not Getting It' Shock...

Well, I guess it's safe now to take a look at the finale of 'Ashes To Ashes'. But just in case...


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The 'Guardian's' review is, well, typically 'Guardian':
So that's it then, Ashes to Ashes to ashes. The end of Gene Hunt, the bullying, racist, misogynist, everything else-ist DCI the nation strangely fell in love with...
Ahh, bless. You can almost hear the baffled incomprehension that must have been in his mind when he typed that copy, can't you?

Rather like the now-notorious quote (attributed to Pauline Kael) that a liberal doyenne "couldn't believe Nixon had won", since no one she knew had voted for him, the Guardian just doesn't understand how anyone other than policemen (corrupt, racist, misogynistic policemen at that, ones not yet drummed out of the force by the professional standards people) could appreciate that show.

And certainly, it's proved popular with the police, if blogs are anything to go by. Even Inspector Gadget couldn't resist changing his header in tribute on Friday:


Yet it also proved hugely popular with the public too. And that makes nice, politically-correct, well brought up Guardian reviewers, secure in their insular bubble, head's explode...

Mind you, the reviewer is in good company, because even the creators are puzzled by that:
Some viewers may have been too busy enjoying Hunt's politically incorrect ways to notice. The gruff Gary Cooper fan surprised his creators by sparking the passion of some female viewers – there's even an online group called Hunt's Housewives – the admiration of some men, and leaving others obsessed with Gene and Alex's (or Galex's) relationship. "I'm still amazed that girls find it romantic, this big hulking bloke in a dated suit, that there could be anything even closely resembling a sex symbol," Graham says. "I find that baffling. It's great but I just don't understand it."
Oh, dear. Well, sometimes the best discoveries are the most unexpected. 'Fawlty Towers' wasn't expected to be a hit either, being savaged by the critics on release, only to see the character of Basil Fawlty - manic, cowardly, incompetent - voted second favourite TV character in a Channel Four programme.

It isn't just the maddeningly elusive appeal of the main character - for as we all know now, Hunt IS the main character, not Sam Tyler or Alex Drake - but the baffling (to the reviewer) ending, and the 'did they or didn't they?' question:
Got it? No, I'm not sure I have either. Did the people behind A2A know all this when they started, or are they just tying together all the loose ends together now, in a big old knot?
My guess is that they planned something like this, on reflection, if not the exact format of the ending. And I plan to go back and watch 'Life on Mars' all over again to see if there's any foreshadowing!

The bitterness at the popularity of the show with the public, and the obvious yearning for the 'old' police force seeps through in every line of the Guardian's review:
Heaven is the pub, the old one from Life on Mars, the Railway Arms, where CID went for a bit of R&R after beating the crap out of people all day.
Heh!

As shows go, this one - two?- has been one of the key shows of the Noughties (I loathe that term, but what else do you call them?). And the BBC almost passed up the chance to screen it. What a mistake that would have been...

So what is the appeal? Nostalgia? The retro soundtrack? A longing for the world to be put to rights, for a police force to concentrate on real villains, instead of politically correct trivialities? A longing for real heroes, uncomplicated by modern drama's need for 'conflict' and 'ambiguity'?

Probably all of the above. At least at first.

But then, like all great shows written by great teams, it took on a life all of its own beyond the soundtrack and the snappy one-liners, and became something that could support its internal mythology to produce something as splendid as the final episode, which ends - fittingly -with the Hunt character moodily contemplating his new 'decade' and new ride in his office, while outside another confused soul arrives, looking for his iPhone and wondering where the hell he's ended up...

Not a prospect that comforts our poor reviewer:
Hold up though, who's this at the end? A new arrival in Gene Hunt's purgatory? Does that keep the door open, just a crack, for maybe more to come? Oh Lordy no, surely not, they said this really was the end.
I don't think so, though. The ending is just too, too perfect. I think - I hope, despite wanting more - that the creators will resist the temptation to do one more series.

And if they don't win a BAFTA, there'll be no justice. But then, as the public longing for the world of 'Life on Mars' and 'Ashes to Ashes' shows us, there isn't any justice any more, is there..?

22 comments:

Quiet_Man said...

I thoroughly enjoyed the 2 series for a variety of reasons, one of which was that it was everything that the Guardianistas hated about "real" people. Ostensibly it should have been the 2 heroes who captured our imagination, yet it was the politically incorrect cops who came across as real and endearing.

Edwin Greenwood said...

"And that makes nice, politically-correct, well brought up Guardian reviewers, secure in their insular bubble, head's explode..."

<mode="impressed pedant">
Ouch! I have to say I did struggle for a while with that splendid construction, Julia. I think what you were trying to write was:

And that makes nice, politically-correct, well brought up Guardian reviewers', secure in their insular bubble, heads explode...
</mode>

RAB said...

Not only are they PC at the Guardian, but a bit thick too. And to think they used to have Clive James doing their reviews. Makes you weep eh?
I was working in the Crown Court when the Crown prosecution Service was invented. My colleagues and I looked at each other knowingly and said...
Oops, there goes the neighbourhood!

It was obvious from the start that it would become politicised in a very nasty way.
It attracted fourth rate legal minds, that were trendy lefties almost to a man. That was when the rot set in in our legal system, and has continued apace ever since.

Yes of course we "real" people love him.We want real coppers like Hunt. Someone who takes down real villians and would laugh in the face of anybody wanting him to arrest a granny for selling goldfish to under age kids, or a soap box preacher for hate crimes, for saying homosexuality is a sin.

I wonder what the ratings are for old episodes of the Sweeney on ITV3. I bet they are high.

TheBigYin said...

Bravo Julia, I've been waiting for someone like yourself to do some sort of critique of A2A.

To me it was a tale of two different moralities between two different decades. Both Sam Tyler and Drake brought this decades values to curb the excesses of Gene Hunts.

I still had no Idea of what was going on (but I should have guessed as the name of the show, Ashes to Ashes was a pointer.)

It started to dawn on my half way through the final episode that Jim Keats was in fact the devil trying to discredit our Gene and lure our erstwhile heros down to Satan's lair. The actor that played the hissing and spitting Keats (Daniel Mays) deserves an award all on his own, he played a blinder.

Being a bloke I found that Philip Glenister (Hunt) is somewhat ugly, with his potmarked face and all, but his powerfull performances, I relent, can be a powerful force in his attractiveness to women, something akin to women who want to marry inmates on death row I suppose. Still being a bloke, Keeley Hawes (Drake) makes an absurdity of one of the anti-smoking pictures on my cigarette packets, I refuse to call them fags, you know, the one with the drooping, half smoked cigarette to indicate that smokers can't...err...well you know.

The guardianistas (if that's how you spell it) want to get real. It's fantasy, something similar to your Guardian stories, fiction born out of vague recollections of how it was, you numpties.

These moral guardians are beneath contempt. I still call the local papershop/mini-mart the Paki shop without malice, even though it is run by a lovely couple of Indian lads. It stems from the sixties when my mother would send me round to the 'paki shop' to get a loaf of bread etc. And I do love the "battle of the sexes" jokes...some good banter there, on both sides but when it becomes political...

Sunday afternoon drinky poos, doesn't have loosten your keyboard, (tongue.)

TheBigYin said...

Sunday afternoon drinky poos, doesn't have loosten your keyboard, (tongue.)

And your spelling! *half loosen*

Oldrightie said...

Yin, buddy, enjoy the drinkies for as long as you can afford them! Fire up the Quattro.

TheBigYin said...

@oldrightie Oh I will, with this nice weather I'd like to visit a pub garden for a pint and a cigarette but don't want the hassle of the 'new age' anti-smoker complaining to the landlord that I'm spoiling their enjoyment of a Smokfree Britain.

Although I could give the anti-smoker a bit of Gene Hunt...hmmm, food for thought.

Joe Public said...

Surely, it's an oxymoron for a majority to be considered Politically Incorrect?

Joseph Takagi said...

It's "nice" vs "nasty".

"Nice" is someone who can be very polite. They can do a good presentation in a meeting. They will offend no-one. But can they do the job? No.

"Nasty" is someone who's capable of saying all the wrong things. They turn up in an old suit. They make sexist comments. But they can do the job very well.

I've met both types in companies. I've seen projects run by "nice" and they always go off the rails and a "nasty" bloke comes in and sorts it out.

But eventually, they forget the "nasty" bloke, pass him over for promotion, concentrate on his irrelevant downsides and along comes another nice bloke.

Blair was the "nice" to Thatcher/Major's "nasty". And we've realised just how off the rails that's gone. The problem for the Conservatives, the thing they got totally wrong was throwing out the "nasty" image.

Gene Hunt embodies the "nasty" and the public are crying out for this. The Conservatives elected a "nice" which was right for that time, but not for the election. It's why the Graun/BBC types are so wrong. They think that Cameron was still too "nasty", but all that kumbayah politics has been buried. The people don't want it any more.

Mark Wadsworth said...

These series were OK, but you might as well watch old episodes of The Sweeney - in those days it really was un-PC people making fun of political correctness; rather than PC people flirting with un-policitical correctness in a manner about as appealing as lefties making fun of Christianity, while not daring to make fun of Islam.

JuliaM said...

"Ostensibly it should have been the 2 heroes who captured our imagination, yet it was the politically incorrect cops who came across as real and endearing."

Indeed. It must have made morning discussions around Guardian HQ watercoolers rather interesting.. ;)

"Ouch! I have to say I did struggle for a while with that splendid construction, Julia."

Gah! You're right. And I can't blame the iPhone keyboard for that one either...

"And to think they used to have Clive James doing their reviews. Makes you weep eh?"

Oh, agreed. I can't say I warm to Charlie Broooker much...

"I wonder what the ratings are for old episodes of the Sweeney on ITV3. I bet they are high."

I've caught a few episodes - as Mark says below, they are indeed not very PC at all. :D

JuliaM said...

"To me it was a tale of two different moralities between two different decades. "

It must have really baffled the Guardian that it wasn't the modern, trendy morality that got the most applause, musn't it?

"The actor that played the hissing and spitting Keats (Daniel Mays) deserves an award all on his own, he played a blinder."

Agreed. He really did.

"Surely, it's an oxymoron for a majority to be considered Politically Incorrect?"

The Righteous will move heaven and earth to avoid recognising it as a majority in the first place...

"I've met both types in companies. I've seen projects run by "nice" and they always go off the rails and a "nasty" bloke comes in and sorts it out."

Me too.

Greencoat said...

I think viewers were meant to be shocked by the Gene Hunt character and to join the Lefties in saying 'thank God we've moved on from all that, Dahlings'.

But as we know, the viewers quickly came to love Hunt, and to long for those not-so-far-off days when coppers kicked ass and honest citizens walked the streets without fear.

Foxy Brown said...

@The Big Yin

Being a bloke I found that Philip Glenister (Hunt) is somewhat ugly, with his potmarked face and all, but his powerfull performances, I relent, can be a powerful force in his attractiveness to women, something akin to women who want to marry inmates on death row I suppose.

Pockmarks or not Gene Hunt is the most gorgeous man in the history of television. He's a proper bloke - something that no longer exists in my part of north London. He doesn't (or should that be didn't)do his-and-hers-matching Birkenstocks; he wouldn't be seen dead at a farmers' market purchasing organically-grown, ethically-sourced macrobiotic gunk, and most importantly he'd never read the Guardian.

If there are any Gene Hunt types out there, please drop me a line!!!

Foxy Brown said...

Typical Guardian snobbery sees all of the working class as being lumpen thuggish scum. This group, however, is multi-faceted: DC Chris Skelton was the perfect embodiment of the well-mannered northern lad.

Sam Wollaston scores null points for anaylsis.

Chalcedon said...

I enjoyed Life on ars and Ashes 2 Ashes. Good stories and good acting. but gene hunt made the how. A fine portrayal by the younger Mr Glenister. I am going to miss it. still, looks like it will have to be the DVDs of all of them.

Chalcedon said...

Oh yeah, and the line from Hunt about his boys outside as ".....armed bastards" in Life on Mars was the ultimate gem.

blueknight said...

Foxy,
I'll drop you a line if you look anything like your picture...

JuliaM said...

"Typical Guardian snobbery sees all of the working class as being lumpen thuggish scum. This group, however, is multi-faceted: DC Chris Skelton was the perfect embodiment of the well-mannered northern lad. "

Indeed. Guardian bubble syndrome yet again.

banned said...

Loved the first series and have all the episodes but could not connect with the second one, dunno why.

Hogday said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hogday said...

JuliaM, we had to see a2a on the iplayer last night so I'm a bit late on the comments. Blinder of a review.