Thursday, January 18, 2007

Torchwood - end of the first series

Well, Torchwood certainly went out with a bang. (Spot who’s been catching up on recordings from over Christmas and the New Year!) I’ve previously commented that about the half the episodes were good, and the rest felt poor.

Episode 10, “Out of Time”, was amongst the best for the series. It’s a completely different style of episode, reminding of the odd Doctor Who episode that peppered the first and second (new) series and split the fan base by being less Doctor-based and more driven by the other characters: Father’s Day and Love & Monsters. It was slower, more reflective piece, looking at how situations affected lives, rather than focussing on aliens and gadgets.

For those who haven’t been following the series, the story begins when three people from 1953 accidentally fly through a rift in the time-space continuum and land at an airstrip near Cardiff in 2006, breaking goodness knows how many CAA regulations. The story then unravels the complexity of the 1950s characters as they live in a world that had moved on, and no longer feels like their home, and watches as a member of the Torchwood befriends each visitor.

  • John Ellis is crushed when he discovers that his son is an old man and has Alzheimer’s, unable to recognise his father. John chose suicide as a way out of his nightmare. (It’s a brave production decision to portray John’s desperation in this way, and one I question a little given that it’s only science fiction.)
  • Diane finds love (with Owen) but won’t settle and flies off to try and find the rift again.
  • Emma is the most na├»ve of the three, and yet is the only one to stay. With 1950s styles back in fashion, her insight is in demand, and she hops on a train to London to join the rag trade!

Each character is confronted with different problems and we watch them working through them. It’s a sensitive episode, and worthy of a place amongst the other twelve in Torchwood’s first series. And before we get too intense, it’s still only science fiction and to get too wrapped up in it would be to take it too seriously!

The final double bill (episode 12 “Captain Jack Harkness” and 13 “End of Days”) places the stress back on the Torchwood team. What risks will they take for each other and those that they love? Is Ianto the only male on the show that Gwen doesn’t carry a flame for? The villain, intriguingly named Bilis Manger, is incredibly creepy.

The final couple of minutes is weak. It felt like they’d cleared out the studio and filmed it with only the minimum of crew around to keep the storyline quiet. And after the noise and bustle of the previous hour and a bit, it contrasted badly, feeling tacked on the end as an afterthought. The wheeze of a TARDIS and the disappearance of Captain Jack surely a cue into the third series of Doctor Who that is due for UK transmission in the Spring 2007. (In fact, Who Spotters already predict that Captain Jack will appear in episode 11 called “Utopia”. Too much detail.)

We can look forward to the second series.


The Great Wee Azoo said...

I felt Torchwood was quite poor in comparison with Doctor Who. The big stomping monster in the finale was like something from a bad Playstation game and the apparent appearance of the Tardis at the end (to whisk Jack off to the better programme) was a kick in the teeth to those viewers who don't watch Doctor Who. I suggest you watch the 6-part Ultraviolet, which is what Torchwood should have been. Compared to Ultraviolet, Torchwood is a cartoon for hormonal 16 year olds. I wanted to like it, but just couldn't bring myself to pretend it was any good.

Alan in Belfast (Alan Meban) said...

But its budget per episode is so much less that its big brother Doctor Who - so the CGI is used more sparingly and less convincingly. You get what the you pay for.

The Great Wee Azoo said...

And it seems that we're all going to have to pay a lot more BBC license money (although not as much as the BBC wanted). Budget aside, I still remain unimpressed by Torchwood. I wanted to know how such an inept bunch managed to stay in their jobs. Where were their superiors? Also, many of the storylines ripped off a lot of popular media, especially Buffy and Angel, although I liked the Fight Club inspired episode. The one with the Cyberwoman was dreadful and the one with the fairies had some terrible interactions between the actors and the CGI fairies. The last double-episode was doing very well to build up the suspense and redeem itself until the stupid big monster turned up and reduced the whole thing to a cartoon. Hey! Did you see Sarah Jane at Christmas? That was good fun.