Fifth-episode verdict: Torchwood

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.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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