Monday, March 30, 2009

Bowie, The Clown, and ASHES TO ASHES

I'm so dumb!!!!

Or maybe I'm just getter old-er, with emphasis on the "er" But for the past four weeks I've been writing about the BBC AMERICA debut (and subsequent episodes of ) ASHES TO ASHES, and I never really "got" what "The Clown" was all about. And maybe I still don't...but I had forgotten all about the David Bowie video of his song ASHES to ASHES from the album "SCARY MONSTERS", and Bowie as the clown in that video. The clown keeps reoccurring to Alex Drake in her time travel to 1981.

ASHES TO ASHES, the TV show, is the sequel to LIFE ON MARS. ASHES TO ASHES, the song, is a continuation of the story of Major Tom, the space traveler in SPACE ODDITY by Bowie. Major Tom was shot into the stratosphere,he loses contact with earth, and moves on to infinity in SPACE ODDITY. Bowie's ASHES TO ASHES continues the story.

Here's the chorus from ASHES TO ASHES;

Ashes to Ashes funk is funky.....We know Major Tom's a junkie....Strung out in heaven's high....hitting an all time low


Time and time again I tell myself....I'll stay clean tonight...But the little green wheels are following me...Oh no, not again....I'm stuck with a valuable friend...I'm happy, hope you're happy too....One flash of light but no smoking pistol...I've never did good things....I've never done bad things...I've never done anything out of the blue...I want an axe to break the ice....I want to come down right now.

In the series Alex Drake (Keeley Hawes) was shot in 2008, and finds herself in 1981 with characters from LIFE ON MARS....."her valuable friends". She's stuck in infinity. It could be heaven, though it defies the usual concept we have about the afterlife....this is no reward for living a good life, its a place strangely like the one she left, but not quite the same, experiencing the same thing Sam Tyler did on LIFE ON MARS, and for that matter, Major Tom in the song ASHES TO ASHES.

Or then again...maybe Alex is in purgatory, trying to atone for past sins... or perhaps the theme of possible eternal separation might be indicative of being condemned to a personal hell.

To take a more secular view, Alex could be in a coma, or actually in an alternate universe that mirrors our own.

But I really believe that some of the clues are contained in the lyrics of Bowie's song, and perhaps in the video...check it out, embedded from the BBC America Website.

Andrew Clover, who appears as The Clown in ASHES TO ASHES, is interviewed.


I.J. Parnham said...

As Alex herself said - everything is significant.

Hugh Jee From Jersey said...

IJ...and the fact that everything is significant is what makes the show so fascinating. It seems that what appears to be a "throw away" scene is in fact not, and the viewer will be able to put it in to context in a later meandering is allowed. Things like the Bowie-esque clown, and Sam Tyler's "death" in this alternate world (whatever it may be), and the appearance of Gene, Ray, and Chris in London in the same jobs they held in Manchester...its just fascinating and addicting.

And ASHES is the best, most entertaining show on television, on either side of the pond. Period.

I.J. Parnham said...

Yeah, I'll avoid saying too much as I have seen all of season 1, but every debate I've ever had about A2A has always revolved around seemingly minor things and even a year on as fans are getting warmed up for season 2, debates about where they'll take things this time round always hinge on someone pointing out an apparently throwaway line or plot development. Either way, it's all great fun!

Edwin North said...

I am in the middle of my second viewing of Ashes, after a second run through Life on Mars. Knowing the end of Ashes, even stuff on LoM makes a ton more sense.
If you are watching as a yank and unfamiliar with BBC programing, movies etctherer is a deep love of the surreal. Always has been. Look at the Prisoner, Dr Who, Python and the whole progressive rock movement.

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