I had a revelation about Ashes to Ashes when I was whinging about it with my mother today. Okay, it's probably not a revelation to others, but it just occurred to me. Alex isn't 'Alex' because it's a bloke's name. It's because it brings to mind Alexis Carrington. Flipping channels, Alex asked for "more Dynasty, please."
If Sam modelled his 1973 look on Bodie, Alex is modelling her 1981 personality on Carrington.
Now, do I think this wise? No. Female characters are already underrepresented on television and it would be nice to have someone made of awesome in what's attempting to be a smash hit. Not to mention we already have a magnificent bastard in the show and we don't really need a magnificent bitch (especially since, unlike Sam, she isn't yet counterbalancing Gene.) But can I now understand the reasoning? Yes.
I admire what they're trying to do, with A2A emulating an early 80s show in tackiness, over-the-top, and broad characterisation --- but it doesn't quite gel. There are too many conflicting aspects. There's the parody self-mocking aspect - hang a lantern and let it shine, we know you know. At the same time, they want us to care about these characters, hence the long shots on Angsty Gene and Alex's Ripleyesque tape recordings. Then there's the 80s nostalgia aspect (and this time, unlike last, it really is 'nostalgia' --- and either deliberately factually incorrect, or badly researched.) Then there's the "mystery". And, to top it off, there's the attempt to say something really quite interesting about feminism and sexism and how they intersect.
That's too much for one story. There isn't a unified focus or theme. There are threads. Some of them quite brilliant. Some of them quite crass. Either it's a silly, funny parody show that's sending everything up - or it's a serious, artistic drama operating on meta. But it can't be both at once, it just doesn't work. It's incredibly inconsistent, already, in regards to characterisation - and if you're going to get something right at the early stages - characterisation's the main one (also, though, the one that invariably isn't working at this stage, with actors needing to find their space and balances needing to be struck.)
And so, even with low expectations, I'm disappointed. I'm perplexed that it is somehow not better than Torchwood, because, apart from a couple of key scenes, it's just not very entertaining. And I'm wondering how writers can get some things so right, and others so wrong.
But, because I really love Phil, Dean and Marsh (and, in fact, Montserrat, she's great), I'm going to keep watching. And I'll do my best not to be tearing it to shreds every ten seconds. It's a program inviting comment, but I'm not sure it's up to the kind of critical analysis I do constantly because I was stupid enough to do film studies in Uni. (It's really ruined entertainment for me, you have no idea. And, in fact, probably contributed a lot to my neuroticism regarding my own stuff.)