Third-episode verdict: Torchwood


So here we are already: episode three. Must be time for a verdict.

Tricky. After a flawed but fun opening episode, we had a disappointing but still potentially promising second episode that took the lustre off things a little. The third episode was, however, an absolute yawn-fest. No interesting dialogue and a somewhat trite attempt at adult emotions that again, we’d seen a dozen times before. This is starting to seem like a trend.

There was more typical kack-handedness from Torchwood, the crack commandos of sci-fi that seem to need basic training in how to use Google – the kind of people who keep pressing buttons on potential bombs, just to see what they do. They must have an observer from the Darwin Awards on stand-by at all times. Of course, since Captain Jack’s gun-firing training programme is designed to turn anyone from complete gun novice to Chow Yun-Fat in two hours – albeit without any follow-up training, dealing with little things like moving targets, etc – maybe there’s more to them than meets the eye.

Characterisation is all over the place. Gwen, our heroine, has apparently been a WPC for so short a time that she’s never seen a knifing or anyone dead. Her boyfriend has mutated from being the kind of guy who can cook a meal for two while she’s out into someone who can’t even work out how to put the tablets in the washing machine without calling her (you put them in the little bag that comes with the box. The instructions are on the side. Can you see me going “Duh!” from over there?). And Captain Jack is as bland as bland can be, although at least he’s starting to flirt a (very) little.

Maybe it’ll pick up by the fifth episode like the first series of new Who. There’s still a kind of fun element to the show that means there’s usually something good you can extract from each episode, but if you’re not a Who fan or Welsh, I’m going to have to say either don’t bother or wait until Russell T Davies or PJ Hammond is writing the script. If you like Who, it’s kind of compulsory though, particularly since the Cybermen are in the next episode. But I was really hoping this was going to be better.

  • Mark H Wilkinson

    I can’t tell you how pleased I am to see that, unlike, it seems, every other reviewer in the blogosphere, you resisted the temptation to say Jack was showing Gwen how to handle his weapon.

  • Boom boom!
    I feel a cymbal/drum crash should be heard at that comment Mark!

  • Watched the repeat last night. It wasn’t very good, was it? Though I don’t agree with you about Gwen’s reaction to Morgan’s death (her shock wasn’t so much the dead body ?��Ǩ���?Ǭ�it was more to do with her stabbing him, I think), they have serious problems with Owen. Last week he was a wisecracking Jack-the-Lad (and borderline date rapist), this week he’s a brooding obsessive. Huh?
    And have any of the writing team actually seen The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances? Because the only similarity between that Captain Jack Harkness and this one is the name, the face and the coat.
    Compare Torchwood to Ultraviolet, which I think was the last attempt at mainstream adult sci fi in the UK (correct me if I’m wrong), and it looks very thin and silly indeed.
    Mind you, I’m still looking forward to the PJ Hammond episode.

  • “her shock wasn’t so much the dead body ?��Ǩ��� it was more to do with her stabbing him, I think”
    She has more or less the same reaction when she sees herself from the future – she gets all Macbethy then, too.
    As for Owen, you’re right. Last week, he was the rapist; this week he hates rapists? Weird.
    And why has Captain Jack got the same coat he had during the 40s when he got new clothes back on the space station?

  • The decision over Jack’s costume is very John Nathan-Tuner-ish, isn’t it? He can’t die, he never sleeps, he doesn’t change his clothes.

  • Oh, and Gwen’s Macbethy-ness over the future vision? She didn’t see a body, and she thought she’d stabbed Owen. Very rough acting, though.

  • To be honest, I find the RTD/JNT parallels run very deep and are rather disturbing. Once you start thinking about things like hiring light entertainment stars to get better ratings, the fact John Levine gets invites to press conferences, etc, you begin to wonder if in fact some kind of “Search for Spock” thing has happened.

  • If RTD casts Matthew Waterhouse, I’m never watching again.

  • If you’ve never listened to any of the Peter Davison commentaries on the Doctor Who DVDs, next time you watch an episode of Who, take a note of how many times Matthew Waterhouse has his hand in his pocket. Then ask yourself which particular tinker told him that’s what all proper actors do…
    Anyway, Matthew Waterhouse has regenerated: he’s now Tom McRae, according to rumours.

  • Tom ‘Rise of the Cybermen’ MacRae? Not according to Wikipedia, he isn’t.
    Unless you mean Tom ‘Dull bloke with guitar’ McRae, in which case also not.

  • You wouldn’t recognise him if he’d regenerated, now would you? Anyway, the rumour is that MacRae may have been hired for being a bit good looking, not for his writing skills. cf Matthew Waterhouse/acting. I’m not saying they’re true, only that’s what the rumour is, scurrilous gossipmonger that I am.
    In my defence, the BBC also spells his name McRae and that’s who I checked with.

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