UK TV

Torchwood 1×11-1×13 – Combat, Captain Jack Harkness and The End of Days

Torchwood

So Torchwood lurches to an end. I was going to say “finally found its feet, more or less”, but then I saw End of Days and I changed my mind. More on that later.

Before that was Combat, penned by that Mickey from Doctor Who. Let’s not beat around the bush: it was Fight Club with Weevils. No one was pretending otherwise. Since most of the Torchwood episodes were ‘inspired’ by something else, we shouldn’t be too surprised by this. All the same, while the plot was a bit rubbish, the characterisation was pretty good and you didn’t feel violated by the dialogue – always welcome, I think. At the end, the trailer for the next episode left me wanting to watch it. Amazing.

So then we got Captain Jack Harness. I enjoyed it. I really did. I sat there thinking that if the producers ever needed a template for future episodes, they could do a whole lot worse than this one. Tosh proved to be interesting, once she had something to do. There was some real spookiness. Ianto proved to have a few guts. Owen got what he deserved. Jack had some reasonable backstory filled in and John Barrowman proved that while he may lack sparks when he kisses women, he’s got what it takes with the guys.

I do worry though that the Torchwood team need to get out less, since they all seem to fall in love at the drop of a hat.

So there I was, about to say that Torchwood had finally worked out a decent formula, when End of Days popped up. Oh my. It’s like the entire team caught 24-hour Tourette’s. Now compared with Chris Chibnall’s previous efforts (Day One, Cyberwoman, and Countrycide), it was noticeably better. But all the usual failures were there: completely nonsensical plots, cringe-worthy dialogue, bizarre characterisation, and non-stop swearing for no real reason. The acting also became a thousand times worse.

We finally learned what the season’s big bad was, too: appropriately enough, a spin-off from a much better Doctor Who monster. Time taken to defeat the season’s doom-laden arc-creature: two minutes. Not that threatening then. Which was a shame, since the build up in Captain Jack Harness had been quite impressive. Surely if you’re going to spend every episode having someone say “Something is stirring in the darkness” (or similar), you better make sure it can’t be killed by a Care Bear Blast at the last moment?

I also have to wonder what The Mill’s been up to, since I saw better critters while playing a rubbish port of Quake for the Mac from about 10 years ago. Seriously, they got paid for that?

Nice ending though.

So now it’s over and another series has been commissioned. Since the writer of Captain Jack Harness, Catherine Tregenna, also wrote Out of Time, I think those happy few of you who are Torchwood fans should petition the Beeb to let her write most of next series’ scripts, since she’s clearly the best writer they’ve got (at least, until they learn how not to mangle PJ Hammond’s work).

At the very least, Russell T Davies needs to get himself an electric cattle prod and take it to work on the script editor and Chibnall until they get their respective acts into gear. I’m hoping that the lessons learned in the second half of the series get passed on and thought about, because I get the impression Torchwood is finally on the way to being a halfway decent series. But the deadwood in Torchwood still needs a whole load of chopping.

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TMINE

Schedule for the week

John BarrowmanHappy New Year everyone. Did you all have nice holidays? Feeling rested and geared up for another 365 days? Thought so.

Christmas is a funny time. It’s a time for eating and watching loads of television, apparently. I know this because Radio 1 told me so – while simultaneously berating the quality of Christmas TV – as I was driving over the Severn bridge. The funny thing is, despite being MediumRob, I hardly watched any tele.

In part, that’s because of Bastard. ‘Bastard’ is the new name for my PVR. Why am I anthropomorphising my PVR? Because just like the rest of us, it took a break for Christmas. Everything fine until December 23rd but then it took a little rest until I got back on the 28th. Ah diddums.

I managed to catch up a bit thanks to the beauties of digital TV and its constant repeats, but I still have a bit of a backlog of viewing because of my Christmas presents. As a little glimpse into my life (and what people think I’d like for Christmas), here’s a list of all the presents I got that didn’t include ‘voucher’ or ‘chocolate’ in their name.

Not quite as much sci-fi as you might have suspected, huh? I do in fact have more than one layer. Two maybe. I wouldn’t say more than three, though. Anyway, given a choice between watching Stanley Tucci and Daniel Benzali at the height of their acting powers or watching insipid Christmas TV, I plumped for Murder One. And everyone assembled agreed it was the right choice and could they have copies, too? (I said no, because that would be completely illegal).

So I’ve still to make my way through a few shows, and will be bunging up reviews later in the week than might have been expected. It’ll give you all some time to settle in. After the jump are some blipvert-style reviews of a few of the shows I’ve already managed to watch, since they probably don’t merit their own entries.

There was one extra present, though: Doctor Who Top Trumps (“Doctor Who Top Trumps…?!” “Oh you love it really.” Sigh). Anyway, there I was, Christmas Day, playing Doctor Who Top Trumps in the Celtic Manor. I mention this not to show off, but because at roughly the same time, John Barrowman and his family were in Wales’ other five-star hotel. I’m hoping that through some form of symmetry, they were playing “Snooty TV Reviewers Top Trumps”:

John: Rob Buckley? Never heard of him. Oh well, cheap sarcasm – nine.

John’s Dad: Damn. There you go.

John: Next card… Worth to society – one.

John’s Dad: You got the Clive James high card?!

Wouldn’t that have been fun?

TTFN

Continue reading “Schedule for the week”

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BFI events

New Year news

DT looking somber



The last week’s news in review.

Doctor Who

Film

British TV

  • There’s a Green Wing special event at the NFT on the 17th January. There will be an on-stage interview with creator Victoria Pile and “(we hope) cast members Tamsin Greig, Stephen Mangan and Julian Rhind-Tutt”.

US TV