Within seconds of sitting down to the third episode of Ashes to Ashes, I'm already regretting it. The catch up has violently reminded me of Alex Drake the stuck-up clueless twit who has the temerity to be the main character, her even worse mother, and then that fucking clown. Getting David Walliams to talk in a deep voice is arguably a huge step forward in making him terrifying, but I still expect that oh-so-grim expression on his face to be suddenly interrupted by a pie.
Things drop even further as the episode starts with a particular bit of 1980s music which has always gone a fine line between scaring me and annoying me. I don't even know what it's called - Superman, maybe? The video clip has a short-haired stocky blonde woman at a keyboard playing the same few notes for the rest of eternity, occasionally saying random things like "This is your mother, why haven't you called?" and rather disturbingly has a set up which means every time her mouth opens, bright light floods out, and when her mouth is closed, her head glows a dull red. Very avante-garde. And also complete bollocks. Come on, people, there must be SOME better music from a whole freaking decade!?!
Well, today's episode is Nothing Changes (presumably a post ironic comment on the first episode of Torchwood because anything else suggests that this is going to be as crap as the last two). And our, heheheh, hero, hahahah, ah. Well, Alex Drake is contining to not stop fighting for a second by blanking out in front of the TV. I do like this aspect of her, as she makes me feel so motivated. Me merely typing out my thoughts is a Herculanean feat of achievement compared to Miss Unstamped Ass. She's also started talking to the ghost of her daughter (who probably isn't dead, but ride with it), and despite telling us all at home that she's got the hang of this "don't look because the ghosts will vanish" gig, STILL proceeds to turn around and make her daughter vanish. Now, I'm sure there can be nothing nastier than for a mother and child to be separated perhaps forever against their will... but I stopped giving a shit long ago. Sorry. I don't care, Alex. If you behaved around your daughter the way you handle the rest of your life, then frankly she'll have a much better future without you.
Time to get down to the reason I waste time downloading things in the first place - the Gene Genie beating the shit out of scrotes in as politically incorrect way as humanly possible. Aw yeah. Alas, seeing Gene, Alex, Ray and Chris doesn't get the same feeling of almost family that you got in LOM. It's not people who trust each other tackling huge odds, its a carpool of people who aren't really that happy with the situation. Alex treats a car chase with her usual lack of adrenaline, Chris is more interested in his lunch, and Ray handles the radio as he's painfully aware of how redundant he is around here. Only Gene treats events with concentration, let alone passion. God I hate the 80s.
"Just because I'm stuck here doesn't mean I have to pretend to like it," sneers Alex to Gene after he actually tracks down some drug dealers and catches them with absolutely no help from her. Christ, girl, my heart bleeds for you. Yet again I must ask why the hell you get out of bed - certainly there is a good chance you won't inspire suicide bombers that way. Humanitarian Alex also shows off her wonderful maternal instincts when she sees a young girl sitting on a wall sobbing - she stares at her for five minutes, calls Gene (or "Hunt" as she so endearingly refers to him) over so HE can stare at her. Gene, radical that he is, simply asks, "You right, sweetheart?" and lo and behold the plot starts.
And her opening monologue is slightly less convincing than "Sam Speed" on The Catherine Tate Show.
Gene suggests they just talk to the girl while Alex spews psychology buzzwords at him including "cognitive approach" and then announces that girl is scared of Gene. Despite no evidence of this and the fact that Gene has been generally a lot more friendly than the cold eyed Alex who has been voyeuristically leering at her the whole time. Finally, Gene decides to trust Alex to deal with people. Or maybe he's just as sick of her as I am. But - and you'll be staggered to discover this - Alex gets nowhere with her cognitive approach. Wow. That's yet another notch on her 100% failure rate. "Don't gloat!" she rants at Gene. "She's traumatized!"
Wow. Seeing her crying her lungs out and ignoring everything, I just assumed it was an allergy or something.
Just in case we started to think that Alex was the only gormless tit in the story, Chris turns up - as ever cracking jokes and trying to steal evidence - and delights in his new joke: a prostitute has made a charge of rape. Oh, my sides, get me another corset somebody. I really get the impression that "Chris" is actually a completely different character and just happened to get the same name and actor as the other Chris. They are not remotely similar. Even fucking Raymondo doesn't make light of rape! And it wouldn't really be a problem for Chris being a corrupt, insensitive, sexist prick... except he's supposed to be the bloke we saw in Life on Mars. Jeez.
Gene however is convinced said prostitue (Trixie la Bouche, AKA Ida Scott from The Satan Pit) is lying for petty revenge on some client judging by her blaise manner and less-than-convincing story, but nevertheless agrees to hear her out. Alex starts ranting about rape being about sex and power and I swear to god it looks like she's improvising this off the top of her head with no conviction whatsoever. Gene tells her to save this amateur dramatics for when he is lost in a coma, perhaps dreaming of a world with vaguely likeable characters in it.
Trixie explains her violator was a skinny, curly haired bloke with a posh accent (I get a vision of Steven Pacey at this point for some reason...) whose sudden insane rantings about purity and corruption suggest he might be a bit of knife-wielding masonic fundamentalist loony who will very likely strike again. Gene takes this seriously, knowing that the Stephen Pacey looney has struck before with similar modus operandi. Could this, perhaps have something to do with our crying catatonic captive girl? The answer will have to wait as Alex needs another mother-daughter flashback and guest appearance by Barry the Evil Clown of Doom because hell knows we just don't have enough of them...
Still, there are signs that Alex isn't quite as bat-shit-insane as last episode. When Barry the Evil Clown Doom appears... she ignores him, instead of pulling out a gun and going on a rampage. She's also stopped telling people they are fictional constructs and bragging that she has seen the future. At this rate, in two season's time she'll be well-adjusted enough to be likable. Nevertheless, her basing an entire psychological profile on the basis of a second-hand statement that the looney MIGHT have quoted the bible doesn't impress Gene. Or me.
"SOD THE LOT OF YOU!" she screams at the station when they don't instantly jump on her bandwagon following an unreliable source against an unreachable suspect. "I'M GOING TO DO WHAT I SHOULD HAVE DONE A LONG TIME AGO!"
I'll let you fill in that blank. Hopefully it involves her jumping off a building. Mind you, the last time she was gripped with such fervor for positive action, she was trying to jump the bones of a yuppie to get back at her 1981-version mother who would niether know nor care about her. Alex Drake ain't so good at solo action. Mm. Did you know that "Alex Drake" is an anagram of "X-RAE DALEK"? No did I.
Alex decides to find Evan, the guy who is her daughter's godfather in the future, and thus a friend, confidante, etc. This is reasonable, I suppose, bar the fact that a) he seems exactly the same as he does in 20 years time and b) "OH MY GOD!" Alex screams, upon looking at him. Who were you expecting, luv? And should you really be telling your guardian how gorgeous he is and absent-mindedly telling him his own future? A clue: give me strength. God this scene is embarassing as she grins like a nun with concussion, laughs dorkily and finally Evan decides she is nuts and runs away from "Subconscious, reassure thyself!" lady.
Meanwhile, Gene, Ray and Chris have been patiently combing the city for their insane, unreliable and unprofessional DI, and finally locate her interviewing some of the least attractive prostitutes since I watched Farscape. Upon realizing her coworkers have demonstrated even the vaguest of concerns about her safety, she accuses them of stalking her. And then screams that she cares so much about the safety of the ladies of the night because SHE USED TO BE ONE! And then she jumps up and down screaming, "HAHAHA! I WAS LYING THEN! I ONLY SAID THAT TO SHOW YOU HOW YOUR PRECONCEPTIONS INFORM YOUR JUDGEMENTS! AND YOU FELL FOR IT LIKE THE FASCISTS YOU ARE! AND EVEN IF I WAS A HOOKER, I'M TOO GOOD FOR YOU ALL! HAHAHAHA!"
"Sometimes," says Gene amiably, "I hate you, Drake. No, no 'hate'. Despise. You might have a plum in your gob but I would rather go with one of those toms than a bitter, twisted, messed-up, clenched-arsed, toffee-nosed bitch like you. You need help."
Alex slaps him twice and in her words, "goes off to get pissed" at Lougi's and is claiming this as a moral victory in teaching Gene about equality and manners, before woozily trying her truly pedestrian skills of seduction on the Gene Genie while bitching about her whole coma dreamstate fuge thing. Gene walks off in disgust as Alex leaps onto a passer-by with blond hair, a stripy shirt in suspenders as Shazza, Chris and Ray try not to projectile vomit at the site of their drunken DI on heat.
Yeah. Well. Subtext has rapidly become text. Alex was a nutter long before she got blasted into a twilight zone. I wonder how Gene and Gwen Cooper would get on? At least she's cute when she has nervous breakdowns. And doesn't need to dress up as a hooker every week. Oh, yes, did you think that 58 minutes could pass before Ms Drake dons her fur coat, ridiculous earings and fishnet stockings? You niave people, you.
But first there has to be the most awkward sex scene since Torchwood: Day One, and I wait patiently for Gordon Gecko to reveal HE is the psycho and slash Alex to ribbons cause, hell, SOMETHING needs to snap this tart out of her fugue. But no, we get the ever wonderful Barry The Evil Clown of Death's Guilt-Inducing LSD Trip Hour after the BBC closes down for the night.
The next morning, there is no trace of Gordon whatsoever and the very, VERY hungover Alex stumbles to work in huge sunglasses. I have to give it to Keely Hawes, she genuinely seems on the point of losing her lunch. That's fine hungover acting that is. Viv the black copper even marvels at it in the traditional "DAY-AM, WHITE WOMAN GOT WASTED LAST NIGHT!" manner that we all need to keep his character credible. And then she has another tantrum when Gene points out that their department would work smoother if the DI wasn't a drunken slut flaunting herself around the place and calling everyone she meets a "1981 construct". "WHAT DO YOU WANT? FOR ME TO MORPH INTO A NUN?!?" she screams at the top of her voice. "IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT ANYWAY!"
Finally, Gene grows tired of this 'ridiculous conversation' and the plot turns to a boat on the river where Trixie was allegedly raped. The team shall infiltrate the party via fancy dress outfits - Gene as a Mexican cowboy, Chris as Superman/Clarke Kent, Raymondo as James Bond (complete with silly dog-like moustache) and Alex as - get this - a hooker!!! However, the looney suspect isn't dressed as a periot clown (thank fuck) but is actually the son from Celeb. If that reference makes any sense. Which it may not. It's always the quiet ones, isn't it? Alex comes up with a brilliant plan - insult Gene and then come onto Ray harder than she did to poor Gordon Gecko the other night. Truly hers is a towerin intelligence.
What's really worrying... is it works! The waiter-looney does his entire biblical speil to Gene as he rants about unclean women beautiful on the outside but within filled with rotting bones that can never be purified. As you do. Satisfied, Alex starts shrieking, "YOU'RE UNDER ARREST!" despite Gene's repeated reminders they are supposed to be undercover because the boat owner is a mason who can have their whole department shut down in an instant. So Alex goes to said owner and TELLS him all of this. Just because she can.
Did I make it clear Alex is fucking deranged?
Leaving James Bond and Superman to distract everyone with a barroom brawl, they drag Looney back to the station... BUT EVAN IS HIS DEFENSE LAWYER! OH, THE IRONY! THE PATHOS! THE DRAMA!!!!!!! At least Alex manages NOT to freak out like before, so a slight improvement there. However, her entire psychological profiling know-how consists of "demand suspect confess". Suspect does not. Case collapses. So she chases after Evans insisting that even though she has no evidence of any sort, she must be right because it's entirely possible she might be. Gene meanwhile decides not to listen to another word Alex says and gets Trixie to reveal that actually, yes, she is lying and she wasn't raped.
Meanwhile, Chris' increasingly poor social skills mean it is down to Raymondo to look after catatonia girl. And, oddly enough, he gets her to talk. And it turns out she is a prostitute and ALSO one attacked by the looney! Who saw that coming? It turns out that while Trixie was not raped, she claimed to be because catatonic girl was too traumatized to do it for herself. Alex is delighted at this turn of events and runs to gloat over Gene... who has already got Trixie to fess up and knows all this already. Smackdown.
So, if Alex had just let Gene go along on his own, the chances are he would have discovered the truth earlier and tackled the problem for there. All she managed to do was get the Masons to turn against the police. Whoopee. And of course another bleak unhappy ending - clue's in the title, donchaknow? - and Luigi still hates all his clients, and the justice system is still corrupt and Alex is still isolated from her friends and family in both time zones and, what's this?
Yes, Raymondo is evolving into a proper human being. I wonder if maybe he should be the central character of this show. At least he doesn't have clowns following him, understands right from wrong and is able to set himself on fire without feeling physical pain.
What a guy.
Next Time: "If this is a test, I fear I may fail."
Kennedy has been assassinated and the police of the greater metropoliton are on the murderer's tail. Alex, of course, has much better things to do like pester her mother and guardian, storm into their house and scream, "YOU LYING LIARS!" for about seven hours. Gene prays for a miracle when locked in a sauna with Alex who starts to disrobe. Do I REALLY need to use up my harddrive on this?!