I've always been a fan of spin-off series. Back in the late 1990's I couldn't wait for the start of Joss Whedon's "Angel" series. A couple of years later, I was probably one of the only people watching Chris Carter's X Files spin-off, "The Lone Gunmen". And back in 2005, nobody was more excited than me when the BBC first announced Torchwood, Doctor Who's first proper spin-off series. 'Cos spin-offs are great; a new spin, mind the pun, on an old idea.
When "Life on Mars" ended last spring I was a little upset, but relieved when I heard that a number of the central characters - including Gene Hunt - would be back on our screens in a sequel/spin-off series titled "Ashes to Ashes". Well, the wait is over - next week the 1980's set series begins on BBC One, and the Radio Times has a preview.
"...We thought it only right to spend an afternoon seeing if we could keep Gene Genie going. Someone mentioned Miami Vice. And somebody else mentioned Moonlighting. And then I confessed to having been a new romantic. And where were you during the Royal Wedding? And wouldn't Gene Hunt just hate cocktails and yuppies and Lord Scarman and... suffice to say, by the end of the afternoon we were as excited about Ashes to Ashes as we'd ever been about Life on Mars."
Considering this is a Torchwood fansite, you might be wondering why I'm telling you all this. It's great to talk about and promote another (British) fantasy series that isn't Doctor Who related. And spin-offs too, who doesn't love 'em? Except Joey, or Joanie Loves Chacci, or the Green, Green Grass - they're just shite.
"Ashes to Ashes" begins Thursday February 7th, BBC One @ 9pm.
Returning to Torchwood for a moment, the same issue of the Radio Times promotes episode four, "Meat" by Catherine Tregenna. The reviewer, Mark Braxton, writes "A mixed grill of an episode... mainly due to an unconvincing giant whale-slug. A shame: buried beneath the plotline is a thoughtful comment on the price of our carnivorous ways."
"Meat" guest stars Colin Baxter (as "Policeman"), Patti Clare ("Ruth"), Garry Lake ("Vic"), Gerald Carey ("Greg") and Matt Ryan ("Dale"). It's written by the aforementioned Catherine Tregenna and directed by Colin Teague.
The Radio Times 2nd-8th February edition is on sale now; priced £1.