Tuesday, May 25, 2010

TV Cop Outs

Apparently TV can damage your health, as proven by that bloke who recently shot himself after Nick Knowles and his DIY SOS team had given his property a makeover. I ask you, just how bad a job could they have done? Still, at least his sacrifice hasn't been in vain - they've pulled the programme from the Bank Holiday schedules. Not that TV programmes usually have such an extreme effect. At worst, they simply obsess people, dominating their every waking hour, making them slaves to the schedules and destroying their social lives. The number of times I've been stood up by friends and acquaintances who'd rather watch the latest episode of their current TV obsession than come out for a pint. Haven't they ever heard of PVRs, or even VHS recorders? What's surprising though, is how often the people who obsess over these things, don't actually seem to understand what they've seen. You wouldn't believe the number of people I've encountered who have had to have the ending of Ashes to Ashes explained to them. They were all dead! All along, they were all dead!

It really shouldn't have come as a surprise. The clues were all there, throughout three series of Ashes to Ashes, not to mention the two series of Life on Mars which preceded them. If you were a fan, surely it would have been obvious? Mind you, I always thought the outcome of The Prisoner was obvious - they told you who 'Number One' was in the opening sequence every week: "Who is Number One?", "You are Number Six". The implication is clearly that Number One is Number Six. I always assumed that the Patrick McGoohan character had been the head of the facility he found himself in, but had suffered some kind of breakdown, resulting in his incarceration. All the weird shit he encounters was his interpretation, via his psychosis, of the facility's attempts to investigate the causes of his breakdown. But I could be wrong, and your interpretation is, ultimately, just as valid. Getting back to Ashes to Ashes, if you watched all the way to the end of the closing credits, you would have been treated to a vintage clip of Dixon of Dock Green.

Now, whilst the obvious reason for this excerpt's presence was to make the point that, ultimately, Ashes to Ashes was just another TV cop show, the latest in a long line, it was also citing the old show as a precedent for the current one. After all, the character of PC George Dixon was killed in his first appearance (in the film The Blue Lamp),gunned down by Dirk Bogarde, only to be resurrected, without explanation, a few years later for the TV series. Just like Gene Hunt. And,just like Gene Hunt, he proceeded to uphold the law in an idealised world of the 1950s, mentoring many young coppers and setting them on the right path. Clearly the inspiration for Ashes to Ashes, except that they neglected to give us the concluding episode revealing that Dock Green Police Station was actually some kind of limbo that the souls of dead coppers spent some time in, before passing over to either heaven or hell.



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