Feb, 2008

Reset: First Glance

Martha makes her presence felt in the Torchwood Hub, assisting in a story, ‘Reset’, that’ll span at least three episodes. Why bring Martha in…? Well, aside from providing a welcome addition to the crew and an ideal way to draw interesting moments of interaction out from each of the other characters, she also provides an necessary story element. The arc needs a time traveller and a doctor who is neither Jack nor Owen. It couldn’t be Jack, because if the experiments performed on Martha had been performed on Jack instead, his invulnerability to death would have created a whole different ending. It couldn’t be Owen because, well… he’s going to be out of the equation and Torchwood needed someone to replace him. Voila! Martha saves the day!

Overall, an interesting episode – though I’m not sure about the medical research. The Pharm does some normal medical trials for cover and more dubious experiments on the side. However, why experiment with weird alien DNA when you genuinely have no clue what might happen? Why release these people back into the community? What did Doctor Copley imagine would come of the experimentation should one of the ‘swarms’ hatch another giant mayfly – especially if the birth might happen almost anywhere?

Bizarre objectives aside, the CGI giant mayfly looked convincing enough and the story had plenty of energy and drive. A good dose of James Bond-style espionage and gadgetry combined with character interaction meant by the end of the episode the team held together well and Owen’s sacrifice didn’t seem like an entirely throwaway plot device. Nice to see Torchwood using some more alien technology – like the camera lenses. Onionskin plotting – investigating one thing only to discover something more itself covering up something else – handled well… and I just know we have another Resurrection Glove coming (that’s the funny thing about gloves, isn’t it Ianto… they always come in pairs…).

Timing Malfunction

Damn. I seem to have missed my opportunity to join the playtest for the Doctor Who Role Playing game, by Cubicle 7. That’ll teach me for not trawling the Internet constantly looking for references to Who. It’s unfortunate because they only announced the game in December and the playtest has, therefore, only been running for a few weeks.

Anyway – despite a sense of mild disappointment, I intend to plough ahead with the concept of running a post-World War One Torchwood campaign using the Call of Cthulhu system – partially because of the wealth of material, partially because the game system revolves around that period anyway, and also because I happen to find the system very easier to use. I shall post updates on how this moves along…

Adam: First Glance

Neat from the outset, with subtle changes in the characters during the titles. Then we have Adam front and centre right away. Worked for me – though, as a power, seems like a whole kettle of fish to keep having to touch everyone and try to keep things straight in their memories. The panic to change Gwen was great, a rush job that left Rhys out of the equation. Slightly bemused by the apparent need to perform a Vulcan nerve pinch to attain contact on the first couple of occasions… It would have seemed more natural to touch Gwen on the arm, for example, rather than reaching for her shoulder – and therefore close to her face – which would surely make a suspicious individual flinch away. I imagine it came down to camera angle…

Ianto got to be cheeky again – Tosh: “You write about artefacts in your diary?”, Ianto: “Amongst other things…” (wink) – and then had Adam put him through some thoroughly harrowing false memories. The whole sequence of Ianto murdering women, with pig squeals instead of screams… utterly dark, utterly effective. Gareth David-Lloyd‘s acting sure has come on since ‘Cyberwoman’ when that sobbing really didn’t convince me at all… Wrapped up in his long black coat, I could almost picture him in a long term career as a murderer.

The whole episode held up well, with lots of potential for some very different acting. Tosh turning Owen down for a date, face furious with indignation at the very thought… yeah, why not! Owen reminded me of Adrian Mole or something with the whole geek persona in place.

It was only the amnesia stuff that let me down a bit, as the story trailed off into an over-extended conclusion in the board room. The final effort by Adam to survive, however, managed to rescue the story somewhat… though I freely admit to being confused why the alien artefact contained sand, presumably from Jack’s homeworld.

And speaking of Jack’s homeworld… the best bit – Captain Jack’s accent is how they all talked in the Boeshane Peninsula. Obviously. Well done on that little bit of continuity jiggery-pokery!

Meat: First Glance

I admit I might simply be a big softy with a bigger heart when it comes down to suffering. I could probably put it down to that quality in my character that made ‘Meat’ such an effective episode for me. Having spent the first three episodes in limbo, credited but no apparent, Rhys got his ample first outing for the season and did an effective job of stepping on toes and revealing the bad guys. The rest of the cast turned in fine performances, with Ianto continuing to shine with a couple of one liners and the CGI whale-alien doing a good job at roping in my sympathy and empathy.

A tale of just how callous humanity can be in pursuit of profit, ‘Meat’ showed Torchwood doing a very necessary task that, as Owen rightly highlighted, probably wouldn’t turn around the dark fate of Earth in the 21st Century. Like ‘Small Worlds‘ in the first season, Jack seemed resigned to taking the least pleasant but necessary path in the end, though Owen beat him to making the actual decision on the fate of the whale-alien. Poor thing.

Was there something ‘Countrycide’-like in the plotting? The team investigates, they get deep and end up captured, one of the team manages to crash into the midst of the proceedings and save the day… Maybe, or maybe not.