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November 13, 2006

Fifth-episode verdict: Torchwood

Posted on November 13, 2006 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Torchwood CarusometerMajor Caruso

So here we are. Episode five of Torchwood. Again, an improvement from the second and third episodes but also an improvement from last week's Cyberwoman.

Yet the thing is, they still managed to muck up a PJ Hammond script. How do you do that? It was classic Hammond, where everything was inexplicable, unstoppable, magical and scary. If RTD had simply handed it to Shaun O'Riordan, David McCallum and Joanna Lumley, we'd have had Sapphire and Steel: Assignment Seven, and we'd all have been duly grateful. But he didn't and so the episode only managed to clock a “Partial Caruso” on the The Carusometer, which equates to "a show with two walk-on cameos by David Caruso, during both of which he takes off and puts on his sunglasses repeatedly".

Where did it go wrong?

Well, the direction wasn't awful, but there was some ridiculous (literal) signposting and there were close-ups on things we really didn't need close-ups of (the Torchwood logo on the side of the stupid Range Rover for example. You're supposed to be covert, nimrods). The music and sound effects were absolutely awful, removing any trace of menace from the direction - thank you again, Murray Gold. The CGI could have been knocked up in a copy of After Effects 1.0 in some bloke's bedroom circa 1996. And the acting was, once again, as stiff as the Old Wood trees, particularly from Evil Child. It just goes to show there's a lot more that goes into making a TV programme than just the script.

So it's time for the fifth-episode verdict. As you can see from Torchwood's Carusometer for the first five episodes, we've gone through the whole gamut of bad readings. A simple average would give an overall reading just shy of four, a Major Caruso. Does it look like the show's going to get any better than that? No, judging from the trailer for next week's episode. So...

The Medium is Not Enough has declared Torchwood to be a 4 or “Major Caruso” on The Carusometer quality scale. A Major Caruso corresponds to “a show that David Caruso might exec produce or star in, or maybe write during a lunch break, perched at a strange angle on the side of a boat”.

Which is a pity, really, since it had such promise.

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November 3, 2006

Review: The State Within

Posted on November 3, 2006 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The State Within

In the UK: Thursdays, BBC1, 9pm. Repeated Tuesdays, BBC1, 2.10am.
In the US: BBC America. Premieres in 2007.

Here's new: a co-prod (I want to say cod-prod, but won't) between BBC America and BBC1. Whatever next? BBC Scotland and BBC Factual? BBC Knowledge and BBC Sport?

Anyway, here's a show I had high hopes for. Good cast: Jason Isaacs (Brotherhood), Lennie James (Jericho), Sharon Gless (Cagney and Lacey). An interesting premise: a terrorist attack and the UK and US governments' response to it plus a great big conspiracy underneath the surface.

But tarnation. It was mostly pants.

Continue reading "Review: The State Within"

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October 27, 2006

Silly Who rumour of the week

Posted on October 27, 2006 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Tennant fun

It seems the “episode without the Doctor” possibility is really driving fans nuts. We've already had Love and Monsters in series two, and the expectation is that there'll be another episode that's Doctor-lite, thanks to hellish filming schedules. So how will the production team cope?

We've already had one possibility thrown at us: the Doctor and new companion are regressed into children by mad scientist Mark Gatiss and so child actors will take the place of Freema Agyeman and David Tennant. Since there's that exciting competition for some lucky fan to land a part on the show, maybe that'll tie in nicely.

Paul McGannBut now, we have another one, which has the virtues of a 1% chance of being true and all the hallmarks of a conspiracy theory. In this exciting possibility, Martha Jones turns round, says “Tell me all about regeneration, Doctor”, and low and behold, we have a Tennant-narrated tale of life being Paul McGann. That would fill me with joy if it happened, because it's about time McGann got to be something more than a footnote in Who history*.

Sheridan Smith with a DalekWhere the conspiracy theory element comes in is the BBC7 series starting in the New Year. The idea is that that will act as a primer for the public to accept McGann as a previous Doctor and more importantly to get them used to Sheridan Smith as his companion, who will then legitimately be able to appear on-screen as the Doctor's companion and be an audience draw. Smith, of course, has a big youth following from Two Pints of Lager (although not from Grown Ups).

Not at all plausible, particularly since the rumour also says it's going to be set during the Time War, but I liked it anyway.

Incidentally, the Big Finish web site now has more details on those BBC7 audio plays. One thing I spotted that I hadn't seen elsewhere: Sheridan Smith's character is going to be with the Doctor thanks to some form of Time Lord Witness Protection Programme (very Big Finish). Even she doesn't know what she's supposed to have seen, though.

*Footnote: Technically, Paul McGann is the longest running Doctor, since he was the official Doctor between 1996 and 2005, appearing in the TV movie, comics, books and audio plays, all of which were licensed by the BBC.

UPDATE: The rumour mutates and combines with the earlier rumour! Now the suggestion is that when the Doctor and companion are zapped by Mark Gatiss, he turns back into Paul McGann. Now that's the hallmark of a great rumour.

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