Archive for the ‘TORCHWOOD REVIEWS’ Category

The Offal Truth

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008


Rhys finally finds out there are aliens! Er, didn’t the rest of the world find that out during The Christmas Invasion and the like? Or was that only London? Well, I suppose in order to a) keep the Torchwood series at least nominally independent, and b) make it a dramatic moment (and the drama level was high), it was best to play it as something innovative. This is, after all, what the episode is all about. Yeah, it’s another character piece, as Rhys essentially makes his Series 2 debut. There was a dangerous moment at the end which nearly pushed the reset button (as episodes are so want to do), as the expected retcon drug makes it reappearance (they are nominally a “secret” organisation after all – ha!), but the writer/producers make a brave decision and leave that plot point open to screw things up down the line. (One wonders if Gwen and Rhys split up, would the retcon be retcon-sidered? (Boo!))

Ah, Gwen and Rhys… this episode does bring up the many love “relationships”. Gwen and Jack look set to get hot and heavy, and once again we are reminded that Tosh has a thing for Owen… which is really getting boring. Either move that relationship on, or give it up, people! As for Gwen and Owen… that seemed to disappear around the time of Out of Time, and we haven’t missed it since. At least there’s still Jack and Ianto, with Ianto slipping from comedy fumbler to action hero with merely a scene change… which really smacks of inconsistency. One or the other, people, and preferably not the slapstick version, as that’s really not working.

But what the episode is really about is Peter Davison. Or rather, the Space Whale episode that never happened, as we now know what Space Whales are just whopping huge hunks of meat! Which can be readily carved out, tossed in a wheelbarrow, carried and shoved with bare hands, without any need of refrigeration, and still be fit for human consumption. Ew. The lack of hygiene was one of the more disgusting aspects of the episode. Oh, and there was probably something about feeding off a living being, but the Declassified shows that the point really was the Space Whale, not what was done with it (and also highlighting a huge continuity blunder by showing Rhys throwing his hands out when getting shot then quickly shoving them behind his back where they are supposed to be tied, which they show again and again… and again). Eh, who needs morality lessons when you’ve got a huge CGI Space Whale! (And what obvious CGI it was…)

A decent episode from the character point of view, a bit of a fizzler from the point of view of actual plot. I can’t entirely decide if this is a good episode yet or not, that will have to wait until we can see if there is impact from the Rhys decision.


Ice Warrior

Monday, February 4th, 2008


Helen Raynor delivers a smashing script that demonstrates the changes brought to season 2 Torchwood. Although there is still no sign of the humour of the first episode (perhaps when Captain John comes back), but we are treated to a far more mature team of Torchwood crew than we ever saw in season 1. In particular, this is a Toshiko episode, and she has grown up a lot since Greeks Bearing Gifts. This is something we have definitely needed. As yet, we can’t tell is Owen has developed that much (he certainly seems more adult, but I’m waiting for the inevitable Owen-centric episode), but there is plenty to see for Tosh. Jack comes across as rather harsh to her (especially considering the more usual ‘soft-touch’ approach), but I like that. Jack is being the team-leader, and these are the kind of hard decisions a leader should be making. This could easily lead to the team fracturing, but hopefully this more mature grouping will recognise (and I do think Tosh did acknowledge, if not like, Jack’s reasons) as a necessity.

Helen Raynor (and, frankly, I might be inclined to see Evolution of the Daleks in Manhattan as a hideous, hideous aberration) also treats us to early Torchwood, with two incredibly English characters of George and Harriet. Fine, we only see them briefly (and at first I thought of them as local Ghost Hunters, although quickly realised they were Torchwood), but they do come across as more competent that our own Torchwood team. It’ll be nice to explore the wider Torchwood universe (and, yes, there is still that missing Torchwood haunting fan-obsessers’ dreams), so wouldn’t turn down another chance to see that pair in action (although I don’t think we could manage another Torchwood spin-off).

But not everything can be about the characters (although even the Declassified is forced to talk about the characters and not rave on about the effects for the entire episode), so we must look at the plot sometime. What there is of it keeps moving along (although I notice that only Gwen gets the “scary ghost” moments, have to pick on some woman, I suppose, and Tosh is otherwise occupied), but there are a few deus ex machina plot elements dropped clunkily into the episode. The rift manipulator springs immediately to mind (I hope Torchwood retrieved that!), and Owen’s fridge makes a second appearance this season as the hold-all of useful items. Considering all the alien-tech Torchwood has (and already has proven prone to using this season despite earlier protestations), must it all come down to the blood? Is this some extended metaphor for bringing the team together or just a sign of co-incidental plotting? Time will tell (ObQuote: it always does).

Three episodes down, and only one forgettable episode so far. Torchwood is off to a good start, although we have yet to see real evidence of a lighter atmosphere. Still, as they say, keep watching the skis!


The Slumber of the Beast

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008


What then of the second episode of Torchwood? The first obvious question is: where’s the humour gone? One episode (by one of the creator’s admittedly) does not a vision make, but one would hope that there would be a consistence approach to the episodes by all writers.

Or was this left over from last season? Certainly, this story could fit into the first season, with its grim and gritty team, and the focus on one human going through emotional problems and identified with by Gwen. She (Gwen) is the easy link for the writers and has been set up as the “human element” among the more emotionless crew. When in doubt, go to Gwen pointing out that the human view is the good one.

(And let’s be in no doubt that the alien view is the wrong one. Once again Encyclopaedia Jack knows exactly what’s going on and that the alien menace is indeed an alien menace. No wonder that the old woman in episode was complaining about Torchwood, how did they ever manage to do anything properly without Jack explaining everything they had to know?)

Unfortunately, the main story itself isn’t at all original. A sleeper agent that wakes up but the cover element dominates their thinking… (for some reason, I want to make a Total Recall reference here, but mentioning Arnie isn’t a sufficient excuse). Frankly, you could eliminate the second half of the episode, and go straight from Beth finding out she was an evil alien to her dealing with it in the only sensible way. But we needs our action sequences, and so we get an entire Declassified episode dedicated to blowing up a Cardiff high-street in one shot.

There is a hint that this might speak to a bigger arc, but given the speed with which the cell moves in this episode, I would think the other cell members around the world would have taken over everything before anyone had time to react. Torchwood does follow up on past episodes, but usually from a character arc point of view, not a plot-element perspective. More likely the writer threw in “there are more cell members out there” to allow for future call-backs, but not with any definite plan in mind.

The focus of this episode is on Beth, with the Torchwood crew taking a background role to allow her story to be played out (and, frankly, her story could be told in nearly any series). Unless this story proves to be vitally important to the development of Torchwood, this episode ranks as unexciting filler material.


Comeback Jack

Monday, January 21st, 2008


Torchwood‘s back! And front! And left! And… well, has it ever been right? Clearly the producers have been giving it some consideration as the show has had some change over the intervening months. The Torchwood team has been forced to grow up without Jack around, so there’s no surprise that they are back to the general squabbling as soon as he returns.

No, that’s a lie. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang is a show that concentrates on the team with the addition of Spike… I mean, James Masters as… well, I won’t give spoilers away here, so let’s call his character John for the purposes of this review. John’s come to town, and now Jack and the team have to deal with him. Old secrets are raised, size jokes are made, and we get to see many of the characters show actual depth for a change.

Owen’s clearly been swapped for someone who isn’t as much of a prat, but I’m sure we’ll get to see him return to form in Owen-centric episodes. Tosh has… slightly become more confident, and Ianto has become… a bit of a prissy boy, really. Unless the production are careful, he’s going to become an extremely wet character and the first against the wall when the revolution comes (and, indeed, this is only a single entendre). But the focus of the episode is, of course, on Gwen and Jack. Gwen has moved on in her life with Rhys, and clearly doesn’t pine for Jack in any way with her long stares with large puppy dog eyes in his direction. Jack remains as jubilent as ever, hiding a mask of anguish, and still hits on anything that moves (although because this is a “proper adult series for the 21st century”, this means anything male). And I’m sure James Masters will be back as he got most of the best lines and has plot information that hints at an over-arcing (in a good, non-RTD, way).

Although we shouldn’t judge from the first episode (not that that’s going to stop us), the series has lightened up, with actual humourous moments given more weight and fit nicely into keeping the episode from being too angsty-dark, but we’ll see if they keep that up. I have to say I liked that side of it, and hope they do develop that more (without, obviously, becoming a comedy sit-com… although considering the series is British, it would actually be funny, unlike certain products from other countries).

This episode is a good reintroduction to the team, and the trailer for up-coming shows promise a lot of action (but then again, they wouldn’t show lots of the team filling out paperwork). I’m not saying the series is off rocky ground, but it looks like there’s a team with planks of wood around the hull, trying to pry it back into the water.