Way back when the writers and cast for this series of Torchwood were announced, people geeked out about a number of things and rightly so: James Marsters (woo hoo!) and PJ Hammond (woo hoo, but as if said by a ghost chasing after your very soul) are well worth the entrance fee, as they say.
I was probably the only person geeking out over the fact JC Wilsher was going to be writing for the show. Although he’s been confined to more mundane cop shows like Dalziel and Pascoe and The Bill for the best part of 15 years, he’s also the creator of the far better Between the Lines (What? You didn’t know I was one of the contributors to the standard Between The Lines faq?), which was one of the best cop shows of the 90s, despite an awful third series.
So I wasn’t particularly surprised that after a reasonably good episode last week, this week’s, which also took the trouble to introduce Doctor Who companion Martha Jones to the world of Torchwood and do something else that I won’t mention just yet, was actually pretty well written.
Captain Jack calls in Martha Jones to investigate mysterious deaths. When the trail leads to a sinister medical testing centre Martha must go undercover. But have Torchwood underestimated how far the testing centre will go to find medical breakthroughs? How safe are any of Torchwood?
Was it any good?
As always, you have to excuse the mess left by the Torchwood plots unit. Extreme medical testing that turn giant alien insects into parasites is a little bit daft. Interesting. Adult. But daft.
But in the deft hands of Mr Wilsher, it’s handled about as well as it could ever have been. We have some decent, fun dialogue. We have perhaps an over-abundance of continuity with Doctor Who, but not enough to overload the show. The verbal tussles with Jim from Neighbours sizzle in a way that doesn’t require much sexual innuendo for once. And team Torchwood are once again demonstrating that a few training sessions can pay dividends, particularly in Tosh’s case.
Favourite line of dialogue? “You are sick, you are twisted on the inside.”
There are some nice character developments as well, as Tosh and Owen finally started heading away from the Friends Zone and towards Date Land. The Ianto/Jack thing is handled reasonably, particularly now John Barrowman is back in comfortable emotion-light territory and can almost act again. But Gwen takes a backseat to the new arrival, which suggests that she might be losing out on screen time over the next few episodes.
Martha. What to say about Martha? Actually, you could argue that Martha has now become “a swearing word” that conjures up ideas of really bad acting and women who come across as children even though they’re all grown up.
However, apart from the “Mary Sue” like integration of our Martha into the team and the sudden promotion of UNIT over the previously beyond-everything Torchwood, Martha’s handled not too badly at all, either, as she’s slowly passed around the team to bond with them, individually. The news she has a boyfriend is promising, although it’s almost tantamount to paedophilia and makes me shudder a little, particularly after her attempts at flirting with Owen.
Oh yes. Owen. Gutsy move that. Didn’t really conjure up the tears that maybe everyone was expecting because not many people like him after last year’s offences against taste and decency, despite his rehabilitation this year. But having him shot and die worked better than Suzie’s death in the very first episode, particularly since they didn’t use some stupid space weapon but an automatic. Nice. All the same, remember your tattoo: [Don’t believe Rusty’s lies].
So probably the best Torchwood so far for me. Still not stratospheric, but better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. God bless you, Mr Wilsher. Can I have some more?