Thursday, 9 July 2009

Day Two

(I'm a bit behind in my plan to blog on each episode as it happens, due to a combination of a red-hot social life and a computer apparently powered by asthmatic hamsters in rusty wheels. Bear with me.)

Forty percent of the way through, and Torchwood still shows no signs of sucking to the epic extent it once did. Sure, there are niggles, mainly that Davies is using a common tactic of lazy writers by setting up an adversary for the heroes that are totally BIG and BAD and WILL KILL YOU, but who are simultaneously outrageously incompetent whenever it's necessary to have the heroes escape, or to discover a new clue. I mean, who the Hell talks about matters vital to national security on their mobile in front of the office temp they hired yesterday. Capaldi might be an awesome actor, but his character is a chump. If only he could be more like his colleague (the one who looks like the love child of Richard Briers and Leo off The West Wing), who sashays around the corridors of power like a Sir Humphrey Appleby for the post 9/11 world.

That's a comparatively minor point, though, in part because the real action is promised for when the 456 finally show up [1]. Once again, then, there's a certain difficulty in judging the success of the episode, since so much is conditional upon the pay off.

Still. Unquestionable good bits:
  • Very little Jack. This is good, because Jack is a terrible character, and has been since the Daleks killed him, and because Barrowman is a distinctly limited actor, and has been since at least Shark Attack 3. [2]
  • On a related note, watching him screaming as his body forcibly rebuilt him was pretty damn cool, and seeing him encased in concrete better still.
  • Gwen shooting an unarmed man in the foot. One of the biggest complaints about Torchwood in the past was that it couldn't include a scene one wouldn't find in Doctor Who without screaming "WE ARE ADULT" over the top, and spraying blood and fuck-tricks all over the place. You could argue it's a bit sad that something so simple impresses me, but I'll take all the improvements I can get.
  • Kids. Still creepy.
  • "We want a pony". Best line Davies has written for a long time.
Not so good bits.
  • The aforementioned incompetence of the hostile government agencies.
  • Apparently the BBC still doesn't have anyone that can direct action films for shit. Gwen in particular looks like a eight-year old with two water pistols whenever she engages in gun-play.
  • Ianto's family. I should be careful here, they're not too bad yet, but one can't help the sneaking suspicion that despite their humble background and current status as (mercilessly unfunny) light relief, they will end up saving everyone, because Davies is convinced everyone in the world hates the working class, and he must re-educate us. Someone might want to tell him a) we get it, and b) if all of your working class characters are shouty arguing selfish bumblers, it might not be the audience who has a problem with undervaluing the working class, irrespective of how many times they implausibly save the Earth at the eleventh hour.
  • This is fairly minor, but how does Ianto know how to drive a JCB, and how did he get himself inside the perimeter of a top secret base filled with anti-terrorist forces? See above about strategic incompetence, by the way, it doesn't fill me with confidence that the British Armed Forces apparently don't bother with identification checks for sexy undertakers.
In all, then, a mixed bag, but a mixed bag of sweets which includes the occasional Pink Shrimp, as opposed to a mixed bag of the faeces of two dozen different types of rodent. Definite, and significant, progress.

[1] One thing I forgot about Monday's episode that really pissed me off; apparently "half the world" are still refusing to accept the existence of extra-terrestrials. This despite the fact that the fucking world was stolen. I can't decide if RTD doesn't want to be bothered with following through with the fall-out of his ludicrously overblown finales, which would make him a cock, or if he's deliberately throwing this stuff in to irritate people who have complained about it before, in which case he's intentionally weakening the structure of the show to make a point, which would kind of confirm my impression of the man as BBC Centre's equivalent to George Bush. Sure, Davies hasn't started any pointless and bloody wars, but then Bush never wrote Love & Monsters, so who is the real criminal?

[2] I also find him a fairly grating person, too. Not just because he's everywhere these days, bellowing catchphrases into microphones so loud each drop of phlegm sounds like a napalm drop, but because he seems even more congenitally incapable of considering the possibility that Torchwood might just suck than its creator is. According to Cocklick, Barrowman has been complaining that being reduced to five episodes from thirteen is "like we're being punished." You are being punished, Barrowman. That's what happens when nobody watches your show, because despite having a huge potential audience, you decided to be shit on toast. Your problem is not being able to grasp the possibility that your punishment is deserved.

No comments: