Jan, 2008

Sleeper: First Glance

Sleeper‘ felt like preparation – and while an effective enough story itself, failed to bring the viewer to a comfortable conclusion. Beth provided a well-handled focus for the story, a confused woman torn between reality and a secret hidden from everyone, including herself. Beth wanted to be ordinary, but circumstance had pushed extraordinary upon her; whereas, the ordinary members of Torchwood embrace the extraordinary role they play, without necessarily understanding it completely. You might draw parallels between Captain Jack and the alien invaders, as both enforce strict and unsympathetic controls on the information they pass to those who serve them. Sleepers and Torchwood members alike only know what they need to know to serve their current function and nothing more.

While I thought Beth handled her character well, I found less positive thoughts surfacing about the sleeper who survived to the end. I blame the director rather than the actor, but the murder of the council member added unnecessary violence and splashes of gore with an almost comical portrayal of the alien. The distant, disinterested gaze didn’t work at all – less of the psychopath, more of the mildly aggrieved accountant. Why the story required the same guy to break his partners neck also begged an answer – as that kind of violence got cut from the Doctor Who: TV Movie and the story didn’t suffer for it at all. Has pointless and poorly directed violence started to replace the childish bouts of sex and swearing from Season One?

Highlight of the evening – a witty Ianto Jones who seemed to have an amusing quip for every occasion. Yes, it might have seemed uncharacteristic of the often morose Ianto of Season One… Yes, it looked like Ianto just got dumped with all the throwaway humourous dialog for the episode… but, it worked for me.

Overall, the episode almost worked and I trust it will lead to something more – but, how about getting on to some fuller and rounder storytelling and characterisation for Episode Three, huh?

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang: First Glance

I believe ‘Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang‘ succeeded as a “Previously on…” catch-up episode far better than many I have seen over the years. Approaching Torchwood on the basis that you might never have seen it before, it provided an episode length run down of the team members, their roles, their background, their relationships, and the relative flexibility of their sexuality.

James Marsters – as Captain John – acted a fine part as old friend, associate and lover to Captain Jack, proving – it would seem – that the 51st Century Time Agency had a tendency towards profit, heroic and self-indulgence. Compared to the Time Lords, being a Time Agents apparently meant a non-stop party, laced with drugs, booze, sex and extremes of violence.

Everyone turned in a fine performance, with characters falling quickly back into place… though Owen seemed a little subdued. I guess losing your soul mate to a rift in space/time, trying to commit suicide and murdering your boss can have a sobering effect on a person! I’m certain thw stories will reveal more of where Owen and Toshiko are going – a relationship probably cooked up because she’s the only one left in the Hub who Owen hasn’t had a sexual relationship with yet (providing you exclude the pterodactyl).

Captain John hijacking the night club and then ‘play fighting’ with Captain Jack proved the most entertaining bit; while the McGuffin used to conclude the story didn’t really drive hard to suspend disbelief in the viewer (I doubt you can conjure up a DNA cocktail like that in a matter of minutes and hope to do anything but kill the person you inject it into…).

Anyway… an excellent start to the new series and I’m looking forward to the rest. Lets keep the standard high this year, okay Chris?

Torchwood in the Guide

I rescued an article about Torchwood Series One at h2g2 a couple of months ago – and while I mentioned it in passing, it seems a little silly not to unearth it again just before the start of Series Two.

h2g2 is ‘an encyclopaedic project… written by people from all over the world’, conceived by Douglas Adams, launched in 1999, named after The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and absorbed into the BBC stable of community sub-sites in 2001. I write and subedit there as The Apprentice – and found this article on Torchwood languishing it what the site calls the Flea Market – a dumping ground for almost articles and promising ideas that need care and attention to get them into a state suitable for consideration as Entries in the Guide.

I found it quite enjoyable to drag together the various bits and bobs of information needed to fill out the detail of this article, as well as the range of quotes for each episode. I did stick with as much of the original entry as possible – which led to certain episode overviews reading a little differently to the ones I specifically re-wrote or expanded – but did do a considerable amount of work myself. I took a few liberties trying to guess around the knowns and suggest a few unknowns – like where the team park the car, when exactly the series takes place, and how the heck that pterodactyl gets in and out of the Hub.

Do have a read… and if you find anything alien, it’s theres… any errors are probably mine.

Torchwood Returns

Jack’s back on Wednesday! Yay! The brief (5 minute?) trailer available from the Torchwood website gives away the beginning of the series – and Jack seems quite upbeat… Will he remain the plucky, if slightly tortured, character from Who, or return to the morose, mildly unlikeable Jack of Series One? I certainly hope for the former – because the other Jack made it difficult to bring a real unity to the Torchwood team and I liked him a lot less. Yes, he had his moments, but he lacked a certain lightness of character that should come with someone who effectively can expect to live for-almost-ever.

While Chris Chibnall continues to captain the good ship Torchwood, I hope lessons will have been learned from Series One. If you’re going to do adult, then do it without the schoolboy in the playground mentality of short sweaty bouts of sex and gratuitous flashes of swearing. Deal with adult themes in an adult way – and you will find your viewers appreciating it. I certainly would.

What do I want to see this series? I want to find out what happened during the two years wiped from Jack’s mind while he was a Time Agent…