Today’s video is the televisual equivalent of bubble and squeak, in that it consists of leftovers that have formed something new and hopefully quite appetizing. Watching it again this morning, though, with a view to putting together a little accompanying text, the one dominating thought I’m carrying is “Good grief, doesn’t Gene Hunt drink a lot?”.
This one came about while I was cutting together the ‘Cars’ video I featured last week. One thing I noticed during the third season of Ashes To Ashes, in particular, was that some of the cinematography is first rate – Hollywood standard, really, thanks to a fantastic team of cinematographers (Adam Suchitzky and Balazs Bolygo, who handled most of series three, have worked on Primeval and Doctor Who respectively, along with Simon Archer, who did most of the second series). The swooshing and panning I can take or leave, as it always seems fairly generic, but there is a lot of very stylised work going on that people tend not to notice: creative use of shadow, or soft golds that bleed into the darkness (representing, somehow, Alex’s determination to cling to life, whatever it takes), and lots of other trickery. Watch an episode without sound – force yourself to see – and you’ll get what I mean, if you don’t already. There are several sequences in the prison episode (season three, episode six), featured quite extensively in this video, which owe an awful lot to the Bradbury scenes in Blade Runner, with dim blue lighting reflecting off puddles in decrepit, echoing corridors.
It struck me as unfortunate that when I was finding clips for ‘Cars’, I had to leave all these out because they didn’t fit. And the only way to make them fit was to put them in something new. The trickiest part, on this occasion, was finding music: I went through the entire soundtrack and couldn’t find anything that wanted to convey the sombre, melancholy mood that I think is epitomised in that final episode. There are plenty of great songs, but nothing that seemed quite right. Then a friend suggested Joy Division (“if you want to be miserable and depressing”), and ‘Atmosphere, which, like ‘Cars’ before it, didn’t feature in the show, was an obvious choice. Then it was a question of scanning through each episode and finding stuff that looked nice. My favourite shot in the entire series was arguably the immaculately-framed tower block conversation at 2:55, but they filmed a wealth of great stuff – the slow motion car explosion that climaxes the first series, the shadowed discussion between Alex and Gene at 3:36, and Alex’s wordless contemplation in the bar at 1:05.
A few months down the line, I’m still not quite sure about the end result. It seems a little static in places, and rather amateurish. On the other hand I think it tells a coherent story – one that, like the Andrew Gold Doctor Who montage, I didn’t intend on telling when I put it together. It just sort of panned out that way. But there were few images in the show as bittersweet as the moment in the final episode that closes this montage – a reminder of everything that’s been gained and lost, and the price you pay for finding out who you are. And having seen it again just now, I am reminded of how much I miss Gene Hunt. But more of that next week.