Review: Torchwood 1×8 – They Keep Killing Susie


So here’s the thing. A couple of weeks ago, I got so hacked off with the poor quality of Torchwood, I decided to stop watching. I studiously avoided tuning into the next episode and even though various people said it wasn’t bad, I still couldn’t bring myself to devote 50 minutes of my life to it. I even went as far as recording it, but I deleted it because I knew I’d never do anything more than glower at its sullen awfulness. Having a tooth extracted looked more inviting.

But there were enough people saying it was actually pretty good that I decided to tune in this week. Plus the title was They Keep Killing Susie, so I figured it might be a bit more interesting than the standard Torchwood episode.

You know what? Maybe it was because I’d had a vacation from Torchwood but I really enjoyed it.

Okay, so some of the standard Torchwood criticisms applied: the whole covert thing was a complete joke; the Torchwood-mobile is absurd; it dragged a bit; some of the acting was a bit wooden; Captain Jack’s gunwork was pants; and there were various Galactus*-sized holes in the plot that wouldn’t have passed Looney Tunes‘s strict script-editing standards.

But, the Torchwood team actually seemed like tolerable and near-competent human beings for a change, there was some nice characterisation going on, Captain Jack was all the better for being somewhat nearer to his fun, sex-loving Doctor Who incarnation and it was a genuinely adult plot. No sex, no swearing, no rampant lesbos™: just an interesting study of the near-universal, adult concerns of life, death and the hereafter. It was genuinely moving, thoughtful and original at times.

So if you’ve been avoiding the show for a while, try to catch the re-runs this week as you might be witnessing the one and only good episode of the series. Next week’s looks a bit Love and Monsters-ish, although not in a good way, but I might give that a go, too.

Four things to leave you with

  1. I can do three episodes, I can do five episodes, but if anyone thinks I’m going to hold out ’til cocking episode eight of every single TV show that airs to see if it’s any good, they’ve got another thing coming.
  2. The Ianto/Jack ending at the end: were they going to do what I think they were going to do? Ugh!!! Please tell me I’m wrong.
  3. Why does Torchwood tend to drag so much? Someone’s suggested that it’s the lack of B-plots. I think they might be right. What do you think?
  4. Supporting the theory that only Torchwood episodes written by Russell T Davies are any good – Torchwood being the mirror universe version of Doctor Who – this could be the episode that he mentioned in DWM has having completely rewritten. If not, who are the masked avengers of not-awful writing behind this episode?

* Sorry. That was a bit geeky, wasn’t it? In my defence, I’ve been watching Minoriteam episodes over the weekend.

Here’s a fifth thing: the trailer for next week’s episode:


  • 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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