All eight episodes from the first season of the ‘Life on Mars’ spinoff series. The series sees the return of DCI Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister), but he is no longer the self styled ‘Sheriff of Manchester’. Drawn by the action and intrigue of the London Met, Gene has turned his attentions to taking on the ‘southern nancy’ criminal scum. He is joined by his faithful sidekicks Ray Carling (Dean Andrews) and Chris Skelton (Marshall Lancaster). DCI Alex Drake (Keeley Hawes) is also thrown into the mix after suffering a horrific accident in 2008 and finding herself in 1981 alongside Hunt and his team.
A triumphant return for DCI Gene Hunt, Ashes To Ashes takes some of the characters from the superb time-shifting police drama Life On Mars, and moves the action to the early 1980s. So its out with the Cortina, in with the Audi Quattro, and straight down to some terrific television. Joining DCI Hunt — again played with terrific force and stature by Philip Glenister — is Keeley Hawes, as DCI Alex Drake. Like John Simms character in Life On Mars, DCI Drake suddenly finds herself in 1981, with no clear reason why. This provides the platform for another terrific show, the first series of which is fully present and correct here. Ashes To Ashes is tonally a little different from Life On Mars, but maintains the wonderful attention to period detail (and a healthy 80s soundtrack to match), and the willingness to mix in some fun alongside the serious business of police work. Ashes To Ashes is some achievement. It grounds out an identify for itself, stepping out of the shadow of Mars. And the rapport between Hawes and Glenister is a real highlight. But theres so much to enjoy here, backed up by the promise of another series in the offing. For now, though, theres plenty to get your teeth into here, thanks to a quality, very British drama thats simply compelling television. –Jon Foster