We all Missed Buying Gene Hunt’s Audi Quattro :(

audi-quattro

Keen-eyed ebay watchers noticed an iconic classic car make its way onto the digital marketplace last week – Gene Hunt‘s 1983 Audi Quattro from the show Ashes to Ashes. Many a fan clamored to the site to bid on their dreams of saying “Fire up the Quattro” un-ironically every time they venture out to work, but it seems that someone now owns it and all of our nerd dreams are crushed. As the Telegraph points out, there were in fact two cars used in the show, and this was the second one: “The 1983 example of the legendary rally-derived four-wheel-drive coupe was used on the second and third series of the time-travelling police drama when it was driven by the engagingly politically incorrect lead character Gene Hunt.”

gene-hunts-quattro

You’ll notice some “battle damage” on various surfaces of the car because “The Quattro” was one of the most heart-wrenching casualties of the last moments of the show itself. Rather than restoring the car to it’s previous state, these holes were sealed and left to give it some character. The ebay listing itself gives some more details:

“In order to make it look like it was in the middle of a shoot out in the finale’ the front bumper, grille & badge were cut in half so they would fall off (now cobbled back on but still in 2 pieces), a piece of angle iron was welded to the underside of the bonnet to push it open, the o/s Headlight glass was broken (now replaced) various cowels and covers were removed under the bonnet to accommodate the wiring. Some of the switches on the dash, the dashboard to the left of the instrument cluster, the passenger headrest, passenger sun visor, and both front seats had “squibs” (small bullet hit effects) placed in them so were all damaged by either the installation or the implementation of these effects.

The windscreen, rear screen, drivers door glass and passenger quarter glass were all broken but I have replaced them to keep it watertight. The doors are missing a number of internal components, most annoyingly is the absence of the check links which means the door swing open much wider than they were designed to and could catch on the wings. The interior plastic door handles are missing so I have temporarily connected cable ties to the rods so that the doors can be opened from inside. The drivers electric window works but the passenger one doesn’t, I think there is part of the loom missing inside the door. The boot carpet, spare wheel & jack are also missing. Along with a few bits of trim around the n/s door and quarter glasses. The n/s rear lamp was damaged by the fake bullet hits along with the n/s front indicator and the o/s front fog lamp. (I have cobbled them back together but they would need replacing if you wanted to return it to the road) It has a dent just behind the petrol flap on the n/s quarter panel, this is where the SFX did a test with the bullet hole effect.

And of course there’s the bullet holes you can see in the photos, people often asked why I didn’t fill and repaint them, my reply has always been that if I did that then it’d just be another red Quattro.Of all the hundreds of people that have posed for photographs in front of this car 99% of them opt for the passenger side, cause that’s where the action is.”

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British Science Fiction VS American Science Fiction: Why All The Fuss?

Anyone stopping by this site might wonder why exactly I don’t just talk about ALL science fiction, I mean it’s not like I don’t watch stuff from my home country at all. Keeping in mind that I am a Star Trek fan, I’ve dabbled in Star Wars, and I love some old Buck Rogers, that doesn’t excuse the fact that I am shamelessly addicted to stuff from the “other side of the pond”. The question remains, is there really a difference to the two different styles, can one distinctly draw a line between the two sides and separate them? For me, the answer is yes.

I think the main difference can all be chalked up to the argument of mood vs spectacle with the British productions geared heavily towards atmosphere, mood, and concepts and most American helmed productions relying mostly on spectacle, visuals, and special effects. As one can imagine, most of this can be chalked up to budgetary constraints, as anyone with access to millions of dollars in production budget would love to make something as grand as Star Wars, but if you are given far less you may have to settle for Blakes 7. What this usually means is that the actual scripting for these British programs has to be scripted to concentrate on tension, horror, and relationships versus escapist imagery. This forces the writers to go for ballsy content that will grab viewers and hold them; while there are a few American scifi shows that have taken this route, many “wuss out”.

A prime example of this neutering of concept in favor of spectacle can be seen in the American version of Life on Mars, a remake of a UK show from a few years ago. At first glance, the shows seem similar, but anyone will immediately notice a stark difference between the two. First and foremost, we have the production values in place hammering away any subtlety in concept. Instead of filming in antiquated areas, and keeping things dingy, the American show goes for a smooth veneer of CGI effects on things to add in the twin towers and other relics to constantly remind us of another time.

Screw subtlety, here we have "shock and awe"

I was constantly baffled by the use of yellow lense filters to instill a weird vibe on the show, it made it look like portions were filmed on Venus or something. I know folks had a hideous concept of color back then, but wouldn’t it be better to actually use sets with yellow, green and brown things in them instead of just tossing a filter over everything? It’s not like the sky was yellow back then, though I was born in the 1980’s so maybe I missed that memo. This basically ruined the show for me right from the beginning because it makes it hazy and hard to see anything in any of the shots. Instead of thinking “man, Gene Hunt’s office has terrible décor”, I thought to myself “why is he at work at sundown in a foggy yellow-lit room?” While both shows do a fairly decent job of keeping the early 1970’s fashion and hairstyles in check, the American one looks a bit too “shiny” and somewhat gratuitous. The acting seems more “Hollywood” and fake, and everything looks too clean and sterilized. Even the classic cars seem to all be from car shows, no spec of dirt on any of them. The U.K. Life on Mars excels on “not trying too hard” and succeeds by keeping everything simple. The U.S. version tries far too hard, and as a result fails.

Another huge misstep is the overall casting of the show. In the original, Sam was a normal sized guy, athletic but not too large. This was at odds with Gene Hunt’s large size and physicality. We were to believe that if the two were to ever get in a fight, Hunt would decimate Sam with sheer size and brute strength. Instead we have a Sam that towers over Hunt, a sixty year old Hunt to be exact. I know Harvey Keitel is a well-liked actor, but how am I supposed to believe that he is a hardass, if it looks as if he could break a hip at any moment. Everyone else looks “too pretty” if you get my drift, nobody looks like a real person, and it seems like they cast the show from a modeling agency.

Dear God! Why is the sky yellow?

My final real problem is that the show has been whitewashed to be more politically correct. In the original Gene Hunt is not a nice man, he is a corrupt cop that uses his rank to bully everyone around him. Aside from that he is a chauvinist, he is racist, he is homophobic, and he has the manners of a drunken frat guy. While a bit of that stays in, things like racist views are taken largely out, as to not offend people. I can see why this happened, but the whole point of the character is to show an exact opposing view to Sam, someone that Sam tries so hard to avoid being. This way, when Gene starts to soften up, especially in the sequel show Ashes to Ashes, he is that much more endearing.

I could keep going, but I’d rather not nit-pick the entire show to death. Truth is, had I never seen the original version I still would have been annoyed by the show, and probably not finished it.

By doing this comparison, I am by no means belittling American science fiction as the inferior product, but it does show why one can almost never truly adapt a program from there to here, our sensibilities are so different. On the flip-side imagine a show like V (the new one) being created in the U.K., it would be an entirely different show. So yes, there is a difference in the two brands of sci-fi, and I prefer one over the other.

Ashes to Ashes Season 2 to appear on BBCA

A2A season 2 coming stateside!

From a press release:

Ashes to Ashes, the critically acclaimed sequel to UK hit Life on Mars, continues by fast forwarding a year to 1982, where leg warmers are cool and fluorescent is the color of choice. While Thatcher is in her element at No. 10 Downing St, bullish Detective Chief Inspector Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister, Cranford, Life on Mars) is back, policing the streets in his politically incorrect and loud mouthed style. Ashes to Ashes Season Two premieres Tuesday, May 11, 10:00p.m. ET/PT

After the bait and switch that occurred last year, where season 2 was announced to show up at the same time as the UK then canceled with no word from the company, this is welcome news to me.