“This particular show, people do have very high expectations for the ending of it because it’s been such a long journey. But I do feel a little more pressure in the hope that people are happy with how it all finishes and they don’t go, ‘Oh, I loved those series but I was really disappointed towards the end...’” Not JJ Abrams or Matthew Fox there, but actor Dean Andrews (AKA misogynist copper Ray Carling). Lost may have snaffled all the headlines when it comes to endings this year – with 5am UK screenings to keep the super-fans from being spoilered by their American cousins – but it’s another fantasy drama that showed them how to finish with a bang rather than a whimper.
Not that a rousing finale was a given. After two hugely successful seasons of ’70s cop homage Life On Mars, the ’80sset follow-up Ashes To Ashes kicked off with a shaky first series, only to be followed by a belting second outing. On that form, the third series could have gone either way...
There are a couple of odd minor wobbles in series three, caused by the need to give each character a dedicated episode and provide a deeper look at their individual issues. But, as ever, Ashes blends giggles of comedy, flashes of horror, a hint of sci-fi, huge gobs of fantasy and even a saddlebag-full of Western along the way.
Given that this series is the culmination of a storyline that’s been running through the show since Life On Mars, the lack of extras are appalling. Sure, the 23-minute Making Of offers a full discussion of the ending, but the cast are so complimentary about working with each other that you feel it wouldn’t have taken much to get them in a room to chat over an episode or two.
At least when the end does arrive, it’s hugely satisfying. Reverential but not sickly sweet, tying up loose ends without sitting characters down on a beach to explain things in great detail – it’s hard to think of a more perfect send off. It could have been so different: cancellation after one season forced the US version of Life On Mars to tag on a hasty ending. It doesn’t come close to the joy provided here.
Definitely worth a second watch, it’s just a shame the lack of extras doesn’t compel you to choose this boxset over your Sky+ episodes.