Review: Torchwood 2×9 – Something Borrowed

A nice day for a Welsh wedding

 

True story: when my wife and I announced we were going to get married, the first question we got from a sizeable proportion of Welsh people was "Oh, when’s it due?" When we said ‘it’ wasn’t, they almost all said, "Oh, there’s posh". 

That’s Welsh weddings for you (apparently). 

Plot
The night before her wedding, Gwen is juggling work with her hen night, when an alien shapeshifter leaves her carrying more than she bargained for. As everyone gathers for the ceremony, Jack must destroy her big day, unless one of the three mothers present finds a means to stop him.

Was it any good?
It must be an odd being a show runner, plotting out your season’s episodes. They’re not all going to be of the same tone, so do you sprinkle the atypical ones around or stick them all in one block?

For a while, I thought it was clear what Torchwood was doing: put the OTT Chris Chibnall and co episodes at the beginning and the end of the series and stick the more thoughtful ones in the middle. But with PJ Hammond’s episode next week and a piece of old-school Torchwood this week, it’s not so clear any more.

On the other hand, it might have been old-school in tone, with daftness aplenty and the Torchwood crew running around waving their silly guns in the air like they just got them out a Christmas stocking, but it wasn’t true old-school Torchwood arseness. This was intentional Torchwood comedy, not intended to be taken seriously. You can’t blow up Nerys Hughes and be taking yourself seriously.

And you know what? Within those terms, it was great.

Apart from being properly Welsh – bar probably the tamest Welsh hen night in recorded history – it had plenty of funny lines and some good character moments. Yes, dialogue designed to advance character rather than just the plot. It’s almost inconceivable, yet there it was on-screen. Gwen’s from Swansea not Cardiff, it turns out, thus explaining her slightly stronger accent; Tosh stays up at night watching Fred Astaire movies; and Jack doesn’t believe in weddings (any more). They’re actually starting to seem like people rather than just "the doctor", "the computer expert", "the one who cares" and so on. There’s even continuity between episodes, with Owen’s broken fingers causing problems. It’s almost like there’s a script editor hard at work behind the scenes. Is that allowed on Torchwood?

While John Barrowman pretty much phoned in his performance and actually messed up a few scenes with his uncommitted delivery, it was very much Eve Myles’ episode and it turns out that she’s a much better comedy actress than we’ve had a chance to see before. Really, they should just give her and Gareth David-Lloyd as many funny lines as they can and see what happens. Maybe a sitcom spin-off?

Stepping back slightly, there are some obvious problems. The Jack-Gwen thing was all a bit teenage; Owen’s clearly sociopathic enough not to have a twinge of guilt in front of Rhys about shagging Gwen last year; and there’s the little issue of retconning everyone to forget Gwen’s wedding day. Don’t know about you, but if I had no recollection of my son’s or daughter’s wedding day, I’d want to know why…

All the same, as long as you weren’t going in expecting Tolstoy – have you seen Torchwood before? – there was plenty to entertain, even if it wasn’t complete perfection.

Next week: PJ Hammond goes down to the basement, blows some dust off a pile of his old Ace of Wands and Sapphire and Steel scripts, and wonders to himself whose mind he can f*ck with this year.

  • I saw this last week and thought it was hilarious. I absolutely LOATHED the first series of Torchwood, trying too hard, too much sex, too scary for kids – kids couldn’t watch it but wanted to = major headache for parents – I would now let them watch this.
    Question though, why was Gwen’s accent getting stronger by the second? And what IS going to happen to Owen. Surely all his bits are going to keep falling off and he is going to turn into one of Terry Pratchett’s Igors?

  • It was very funny, even on a second viewing (I watched it last week, but wasn’t paying much attention and forgot most of what happened).
    Welsh accents are funny things and can get stronger or weaker depending on stress, what you’re talking about, etc. My wife’s been living in London so long and because of the nature of her work, her Welsh accent’s almost disappeared. But if she starts talking about Wales, it comes back for a bit. Amusingly, we once played Welsh monopoly and her accent stuck on ‘Swansea’ for three days. Tee hee.
    As for Owen, let’s not go there. The man can talk but has no breath.

  • andrea

    I think a lot of people don’t remember their kids’ wedding days or even their own, because they get completely blotto. I bet they all woke up next day with raging hangovers and pretended to each other that they remembered, out of embarrassment – “oh yeah, the dress was lovely, yeah” “yeah and um, the, er, speeches, they were good”
    andrea

  • Maybe, but I’ve not known anyone suffer that problem (and I’ve been to an awful lot of weddings…). I doubt that the somewhat prim and proper parents of Rhys would be accustomed to getting so drunk they can’t remember anything. At the very least, they might be wondering why there weren’t any photos or videos of the happy occasion.

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  • Maybe it’s just me, but I think the actor who played Rhys’ pal Banana should have been saved to play the grown-up version of Jack’s brother Grey.
    Like I said, it’s probably just me, but I could buy into a family resemblance between the two.