Release: Oct 08, 2015 - Author: Tony Montana - Translator: Tony Montana - external link: IMDB - more from this series
Compared are the cut International Version (German DVD by Polyband/WVG / FSK 16) and the uncut UK Version (UK DVD by Entertainment One / BBFC 15)
- 1 scene with alternate footage
- 14 removed scenes
- Length difference: 483.6 seconds / approx. 8 minutes and 4 seconds
BEWARE: Since this is not only the season finale but also the series finale, I would like to explicitely point out that the following comparison contains spoiler about how the show ends. Keep reading at your own risk!
Ashes to Ashes is a spin-off of the amazing BBC show Life on Mars (not to be confused with the US Version starring Harvey Keitel as Gee Hunt, which is basically alright, but compared to the original, it comes off second best). Similar to Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes is about a person that has an accident and then wakes up back in time. While DCI Sam Tyler from Life on Mars woke up in the 70s after a car crash, DI Alex Drake wakes up in the 80s after she got shot. Just like Sam, Alex desperately tries to find a way to get home, back to her little daughter Molly.
While Life on Mars took place in Manchester, Ashes to Ashes takes place in London. Other than the location, not many things have changed because DCI Hunt and his team have been transfered from Manchester to London. Besides Gene "The Gene Genie" Hunt himself, Ray Carling and Chris Skelton are in on it as well. Only Sam Tyler and Annie Cartwright are missing. Instead of Annie, young Shaz Granger is part of the team now. And instead of Sam, the spin-off is about Alex Drake. Like Sam, she sometimes gets upset about Gene's old-school methods and knows better. Among other things because there are things Gene simply cannot know yet because it has not happened yet.
Personally, I like Ashes to Ashes better than Life on Mars, which was an amazing show nonetheless. The different focus of each season is an added value that did not exist in Life on Mars. Furthermore, there is more Gene Hunt in it, who, similar to Ari Gold in Entourage, is the actual star of the show - despite the fact that the story is primarily about another person.
Season 1 is the season with the most similarities to Life on Mars. In both, the main character tries to figure out what to do how to get back home. This is also the only common theme in this first season. Other than that, the first season consists of "Case of the Week" episodes, as already known from Life on Mars (except for the final episodes of course).
Season 2 already tries a different approach. For the very first time, there is a common theme throughout the entire second season. In this case, it is a corruption scandal within the police that goes to the top. Indeed, there are a few "Case of the Week" episodes, but the characters never lose sight of the big picture, the corruption scandal, and it all ends in a two-part episode with a huge cliffhanger.
The final Season 3 has an entirely different concept. After cliffhanger finale in the second season, it takes some time until everything is back to normal. But even then, nothing is as it used to be. Starting with the first episode of this season, Alex has recurring visions of a young policeman wtih half of his face blown off. Moreover, a new character (Jim Keats) is being established. Apparently, Keats is after Hunt and he spares no effort to split up the team.
In general, the final season is more sinister on any level. Also, there are regular references to Sam Tyler and Life on Mars. The ending of Ashes to Ashes is also an ending of Life on Mars, if you will. Though there was an actual ending in Life on Mars, there was room for interpretation. In the finale of Ashes to Ashes, one gets a definite answer about where Sam and Alex are/were. Knowing Life on Mars is not a necessity, but it makes understanding the final season of Ashes to Ashes easier, that's for sure.
Certainly, the ending is not to everybody's taste. But it fits in perfectly, considering that the final season is rather sinister from the very beginning. In Life on Mars, the ending seemed a bit hasty resp. it all happened so sudden and next thing you know, the show was over. That does not mean the ending was bad. On the contrary, I liked it. But in Ashes to Ashes, it all seems thoroughly though through. And despite some reviews on the internet, the ending does make sense resp. one ending does not contradict the other one. The ending of Ashes to Ashes "only" adds another aspect to it. Explaining this in detail would be a massive spoiler hence I am not going to do that. But watch both shows and think about it for yourself. That way, it is more fun anyway. Also, I strongly advise to watch all 5 seasons of Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes at least twice because the ending of Ashes to Ashes puts everything in a new perpective.
Similar to Life on Mars, there are two versions of Ashes to Ashes as well: the so-called "International Version", which lacks footage and has been sold internationally, and the longer resp. uncut "UK Version".
The Uncut Versions of both shows are available in the UK: Life on Mars on both Blu-ray and DVD, Ashes to Ashes only on DVD for some reason.
Bottom line, the International Versions are alright because no elementary scene has been removed. I would still recommend the Uncut Versions though because some of the removed footage is quite nice.
Time index refers to the UK Version (in PAL)
The entire beginning is missing in the International Version. At first, there is the usual recap in the UK Version (no screenshots). Then the title of the show "Ashes to Ashes". Subsequently, we see Alex sleeping. She is having another one of her surreal dreams.
There is whistling, then we see Alex who looks like as fair guy.
One can hear Stewart Hall: "It's a knockout! And Alex is off!"
Molly screams in Alex's direction: "Come on, Mum! You can do it!"
Stewart Hall: "She's found the numbers 6620!"
Now Gene who looks like a fair guy as well and Stewart Hall as comentator again: "Gene Hunt's after her. He's gaining!"
Then we hear shouting down Gene. Stewart Hall laughs.
Now Molly again: "Mummy, get up, he's coming!"
Alex wakes up and raises her head. She sees Sam Tyler behind the glass while Molly yells "Mummy!" one more time.
Then the dream again resp. Molly: "Mummy, get up, he's coming!"
Another shot Alex looking at Sam Tyloer follows. Subsequently, the dream sequence goes on. At first, the cop with half his face blown off. Then Gene and Alex as fair guys again. A shot is fired, Alex goes down.
Molly yells: "Mummy! Mummy! Get up, he’s coming."
Then Alex again, except she does not look like a fair guy anymore.
Alex: "I have to know the truth. The truth will set me free."
Aside from Sam behind the glass, we now see "Fair Guy Gene" approaching Alex. (all in all 70,56 sec)
With the following tracking shot to Alex sleeping at her desk, the versions are back in sync. Well, almost. The black screen at the beginning is insignificantly shorter. (1 sec / no screenshot)
Due to the fac that the title of the show already popped up in the UK Version, only the International Version shows the title "Ashes to Ashes – Zurück in die 80er" (Back to the 80's) here. And as always, the title of the episode is being illustrated exclusively in the International Version.
Gene's "speech" is longer in the UK Version.
Ray: "What is it that's getting at you, guv?"
Gene: "I'll tell you what's getting to me. I've been too easy on you lot. Well, not anymore. This place is mine. You lot belong to me. Not Drake, not Keats. Me."
Then Alex in the International Version. In the UK Version, the scene goes on.
Gene: "Now somebody tell Drake to get her bony pointless arse into my office A-S-A bloody P!"
Gene goes back to his office and slams the door. Shaz then comes back with several cups of tea.
Shaz: "Those two should either get a room or kill each other."
Chris: "It's changed anyway. This whole place feels different and we all know it. I thought it was cos I switched to Denim For Men but there's something more."
Ray: "It's not been the same since Viv… well, since Viv went."
Chris: "I had a nightmare about Viv as it happens. He was all hunched up amongst this fire."
Shaz: "Chris, stop it."
Ray: "Not interested, Chris."
Chris: "OK. We all know something bloody weird is going on."
Ray: "Write to 'Arthur C Clarke's Mysterious World'."
Dann schreit Gene aus seinem Büro: "Granger! Seven sugars!"
Then the versions are back in sync.
After Alex's "I take you very seriously, Gene.", the conversation goes on in the UK Version.
Gene: "Do you know our problem, Bolls? We've lost sight of who we are."
Then a shot of Ray. He comes in with a gun in his hand and talks to Viv's successor.
Ray: "Hey, check this out. Terry and Bammo nicked it from some scrote last week. Oh, well tasty!"
Ray laughs but the new skipper does not seem to be thrilled.
Ray (rather serious): "Yeah, so, you know, if you want to ring firearms, let 'em know that we've still got it."
Now a shot of Chris. He hears whistling.
Chris: "Did no one hear that whistle?"
Back to Ray: "God, I miss Viv."
Ray leaves and when he does, the person next to the new skipper starts playing the flute. Ray turns around, said person salutes, Ray finally leaves. On the way to his office, he bumps into someone.
With the following shot of Ray opening the door to the office, the versions are back in sync.
When Alex has left Gene's office, she gets in a car in the International Version.
The UK Version also shows Alex on her way out. Then Gene appears behind her all of a sudden.
Gene: "If Jim Keats comes to see you, you tell me. If you don't, I will consider it an act of war."
Alex: "Did Sam commit an act of war?"
Gene: "The last thing Sam told me was that he was gagging for a pint. I said 'Get one in for me and all.'. No threats, no shouting, no violence. Just two mates talking about the boozer."
Gene turns around and gets back. Alex stands there for another second, then she leaves as well.
With the shot of Alex opening the car door, the versions are back in sync.