D'oh! When I posted suggesting a slackening of material over this coming week, it didn't occur to me that Torchwood would be back on this week. I can get plenty of mileage out of kicking that around.
Except, it really isn't all that bad this time around. Losing Tosh and Owen has rid it of much of its irritating attempts at sexual tension and lovelorn glances, as has locking Jack and Ianto down as a couple (sure, they don't persuade in the least, but at least the constant ham-fisted stabs and flirting and bed-hopping are gone). More importantly, putting together a five-part serial allows Davies to play to his strengths. Well, maybe it would be better to say it helps to off-sets his weaknesses, hopefully we can get through to Episode 5 before the last-minute bullshit reversal kicks in and we all realise we've wasted our time.
Actually, that's not entirely fair. Davies does have strengths. Given sufficient time, he can definitely build up tension (and several hundred children screaming in unison will really give you the wiggins), a facet of his earlier work not really evident in Doctor Who, where everything has to be bright flashing lights and running right fucking now, and all the fucking time (unless we're taking time out for some pointless, cross-species mooning, natch). His character moments are also a bit more measured (watching Ianto come out to his family was probably the least shitty moment the character has ever had, which makes it even more grimly amusing that it occurred whilst he was attempting to obtain a child for experimentation). There's even time for actual mysteries, rather than buzzwords. Who is coming? Why did they leave a survivor all those years ago? And why would anyone want Jack dead?
Actually, that last one isn't really a mystery, so much as a list with an awful lot of names on it, but there's till enough to keep me interested, which makes for a pretty nice change. Still, it was all build-up, so there's not much point in considering it in isolation.
Before I sign off, though, bonus marks for hiring Peter Capaldi (who is already acting the regulars off-screen without even having met them) as one of a bunch of shadowy civil servants. You can't have too many shadowy civil servants. It's just not physically possible. Scientists have proved it with lasers.