Now, obviously I cannot rate the DVD, as it has not yet been released. I will, however, try to give you an overview of the quality of the series itself. In one word, it has to be : amazing. Or 'mind-blowing' (ok, it's hyphenated).
Ashes to Ashes, being the spin-off from 'Life on Mars', had a lot to live up to. The standards set by LoM were nothing short of excellent; it was creative, intelligent and entertaining genre-bending television at its finest. A2A was expected to be the greyhound-out-of-the-trap successor, and initially it wasn't. The first series, whilst good TV in itself, found itself on bumpier ground than its predecessor, at least in my eyes. But as it developed, and entered the second series, the writing improved greatly, the direction tightened up, and the plot began to hurtle along, ever raising more questions than it answered and leaving you wanting more. The jaw-dropping series finale sparked much discussion between myself and colleagues.
As such, I'm here to tell you that this third series of Ashes to Ashes (A2A) does not disappoint whatsoever. This may be one of the best series of TV that the BBC has ever aired. It's humorous, suspenseful, moving, and it's got action, mystery and class, but all in just the right measure. One major thing it has going for it is the fact that it is one of the few shows around nowadays that doesn't treat its audience like reality-TV-loving lemons. It's intelligent, so you have to actually think to keep up with the plot, which is more than can be said for most things on the box nowadays.
Picking up straight from where the 2nd series left off, we soon find ourselves back with the team of Fenchurch East (including quite a stylish re-entrance from the Quattro). From there on in, the pace does not let up. With the introduction of a new character in the form of DCI Jim Keats (played superbly, chillingly even, by Daniel Mays), Gene and the gang now have an adversary to play off of, which provides some of the most tense moments I've ever seen on British television. Keats, over the course of the series, serves as the foil for Hunt, in his attempts to subvert and corrupt Gene's world from his position in Discipline & Complaints.
Throughout this 3rd series, the characters evolve in diverse and realistic ways, and we come to know them as human beings. It's this level of empathy with their lives and their emotions that leads to one of the most shocking, startling, and satisfying conclusions I've ever witnessed on television, which, I believe, even trumps the ending of Life on Mars. The audacity and level of complexity behind the finale, and its many implications, cannot garner enough praise from myself.
Much kudos then to all the cast and crew involved in crafting such a fine piece of British TV, that will surely (hopefully) be remembered for years to come. All the main cast deserve some kind of award for their performances here, as they inhabit their characters flawlessly, but perhaps the writers must take the most credit. Their work here is nothing shy of genius; they had the pace spot-on, they knew how to push the audience's buttons, there were more than a few self-referential nods in there, and they knew that people would just not be satisfied until they finally unraveled the mystery at the heart of it all. Many thanks, and congratulations, to Mr Graham, Mr Pharoah and co.
If you've followed this saga all the way from Life on Mars, you'll know that I'm not exaggerating with this review. You owe it to yourself to watch the stunning conclusion to such a heartfelt and human story, that encompasses not only the life of Alex Drake, but also of Sam Tyler. The truth will set you free.