Torchwood

Gareth David-Lloyd the only person involved with any discernible talent? Check.

Still wants to be Angel? So very badly.

Total Bollocks Overdrive? Present and correct. Or rather, as Nic points out, present and very very wrong.

Ah, welcome back Torchwood. It’s like you’ve never been away, but not in a good way. Also, I’m not entirely certain that responding to criticisms that everyone in Torchwood is an idiot by writing a plot that depends on the fact that everyone in Torchwood is an idiot was the right choice for the episode that relaunches the show. But hey, at least it had Spike in it. If you like Spike. Which I don’t.

Posted in TV. Tags: . 25 Comments »

25 Responses to “Torchwood”

  1. Jonathan M Says:

    I’ve recently been watching ITV’s Primeval.

    It knocks Torchwood into a cocked hat simply by virtue of a) stating quite clearly what it wants to do in the opening credits and then delivering it and b) being just incredibly… well.. nice. It’s an intensely likable, cheesy and silly series.

  2. grahamsleight Says:

    A fellow curmudgeon! Woo-hoo!

  3. Niall Says:

    Graham, you’re right that it did look prettier than it used to. And I’m sure someone must have done a script polish, because there were some decent lines, even if they stuck out like sore thumbs. But in general, same ol’ Torchwood.

  4. Iain Clark Says:

    I’m not sure that Primeval’s intense lack of ambition is in itself a redeeming feature. I sort of watch it against my better judgement. Actually I wouldn’t say that this new version of Torchwood with the edges bludgeoned off is much different from Primeval.

  5. grahamsleight Says:

    Niall: yes. We can unequivocally say that this is the best-photographed adult sf series ever made in Cardiff.

  6. Victoria Says:

    If you can’t enjoy that opening scene – land-fish! sports car! Cardiff! – then, really, there is no hope left for you. ;-)

    But honestly, aren’t you being a tad serious about it? I’ve never seen it before, but I read it more as a pastiche than as an attempt at emulation.

  7. grahamsleight Says:

    Victoria: surely you’ve known there’s no hope left for me for ages? I have to admit, I did like the “Bloody Torchwood!” line.

  8. James Says:

    Fortunately I like Spike. Spike mocked all the things I hate about Torchwood, which means that the writers know what’s stupid but won’t change it.

    Unfortunately it’s not a pastiche, it wants to be “dark, sexy, adult, XFiles” etc.

    I completely agree with Jonathan, I like Primeval much more than Torchwood. Torchwood annoys me. Primeval has dinosaurs attacking and Hannah from S-Club 7.

  9. Niall Says:

    Victoria, the fish scene was tolerable up until he started introducing the cast for the benefit of new viewers. And I wish I could believe Torchwood was that ironic but, alas, they seem to mean it.

    More importantly, dinosaurs: universally improving ingredient?

  10. Victoria Says:

    James: “dark, sexy, adult, XFiles” – Is this how the show’s creators have described it? I speak as a complete Torchwood virgin. I saw no evidence in tonights episode to suggest that it was trying to engage seriously in dark or sexy themes. It didn’t appear to take itself seriously at all. Rather it seemed to be enjoying its own ridiculousness – it took advantage of every opportunity to be camp, self-deprecating and playful. I found its naivity quite heartwarming, I have to admit.

  11. Victoria Says:

    Niall: This new viewer was grateful for the intro… :-)

  12. Niall Says:

    Well, that was certainly the original pitch:

    “It’s dark, wild and sexy, it’s the X Files meets This Life. It’s a stand-alone series for adult audiences which will have its own unique identity.”

    This new viewer was grateful for the intro

    But surely there were more elegant ways to get that job done …

  13. Victoria Says:

    Niall: This might be one of those cases in which the creator doesn’t understand their own brainchild. To what extent should we judge something for not ending up as its author intended or pitched? Surely it can be read differently, in an alternative light, and thereby rehabilitated? Just like the text of a novel, which takes on a life and meaning of its own when set loose in the world?

  14. Liz Says:

    I didn’t think it was dreadful, I just thought it was boring – the odd funny line, a fairly predictable plot, the constant attempts to substitute UST and a bit of snogging for actual adult themes. I gave up after 35 minutes, and it served only to prove that the BBC iPlayer is pretty cool.

  15. Susan Booth Says:

    I rather think that all the criticism has had an effect, despite denials from everyone involved. The ambition was, indeed, to make a dark and sexy adult series which would be compared to the X-files. Instead, everyone pointed out that the plots were crap, and no-one in their right minds would have recruited that unlikeable bunch of inefficient sex mad idiots as a team. Everyone involved with the series made a lot of noises about it being only old-time Who fans and SF fans who cared about this, and that really it had achieved what it set out to do.

    However, on the evidence of “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” (and inviting comparison with an excellent film seems a bit dangerous to me) they have been listening, and have decided to go down the camp, send-up route instead, though what they are sending up is a little obscure. The plot was, as usual, deeply predictable, and not only because we had seen most of it in the trailers. The characters were also shallow, and they still haven’t given Ianto a personality. Gwen seems to have cut her hair, though, which can only be a good thing…

    I’ve always preferred “Primeval”, though the evidence of the first episode of the new series seems to suggest that the reboot of that may have the effect of more chase sequences and less plot – and I’m not happy about those and some other changes. More Lester snark is good, though.

  16. Nic Says:

    Vicky: If you mean that we should read Torchwood as ‘so bad it’s hilarious’, then we’re in agreement. Take the early scene where the gang is back at base, confronting Jack over his disappearance and return – it takes real art to get every line of dialogue and every reaction shot *that* wrong.

    Twenty minutes in I was asking, plaintively, how much longer I had to suffer. (I would’ve given up then, except for a serious case of procrastination; I suspect that next week, when I’m not writing up a thesis chapter anymore, things will be different…) But a bottle of beer and that exchange about the poodle later, I was feeling more sunnily inclined. I also rather enjoyed camper, smarter, wearier Spike.

    I’ll probably watch again when Martha turns up.

  17. James Says:

    Liz : Don’t start an iPlayer discussion, please, I’ll be unable to resist commenting, and it will be a very tedious rant :-)

    (I saw Bill Bailey say something recently along the lines of “it’s like taping something when the tapes self destruct in 7 days” !)

  18. Andrew M Says:

    I’m going to have to infringe copyright, though it’s probably fair use:

    HENRY: This thing here, which looks like a wooden club, is actually several pieces of particular wood cunningly put together in a certain way so the whole thing is sprung, like a dance floor. It’s for hitting cricket balls with. If you get it right, the cricket ball will travel two hundred yards in four seconds, and all you’ve done is give it a knock like knocking the top off a bottle of stout, and it makes a noise like a trout taking a fly… (He clucks his tongue to make the noise) What we’re trying to do is to write cricket bats, so that when we throw up an idea and give it a little knock, it might…travel… (He clucks his tongue again and picks up the script) Now, what we’ve got here is a lump of wood of roughly the same shape trying to be a cricket bat, and if you hit a ball with it, the ball will travel about ten feet and you will drop the bat and dance about shouting “Ouch!” with your hands stuck into your armpits. (Indicates the cricket bat) This isn’t better because someone says it’s better, or because there’s a conspiracy by the MCC to keep cudgels out of Lords. It’s better because it’s better. You don’t believe me, so I suggest you go out to bat with this (the script) and see how you get on.

    I still don’t think Torchwood has evolved past being a cudgel. Or if it has, there’s the second eleven batting. The best tv writing – Sorkin, Whedon, Davies in Queer as Folk, the guys on Life on Mars, Morris, Fellows and Linehan when working together, Clements and Le Frenais, Galton and Simpson – is like a cricket bat. And as long as you have the right stance, you can hit the ball for six. Marsters was about the only … Lara … on the cast and his role – as it often ended up with Spike – seems to be to send the whole concept up. Hello, I’m the new Big Bad. I’m tough enough to have found these plot devices on my own even though it seems a little weak at that but I guess I’ll announce my intentions to get you off my back as it’s easier to pick you off singly or in pairs. And I’m as lazy as the script editors who are hiding the plot devices in plain sight.

    The line about “Bloody Torchwood” should have been a six, but through editing and dleivery ended up being fumbled in the slips.

    I’ll stop the metaphor now. The quotes from Stoppard’s The Real Thing.

    On the other hand, you don’t judge a sitcom on episode one and maybe we need to let it settle down. But Kevin McLeod’s script is way smarter Channel 4 and he even has his weekly equivalent of “You cannae break the laws of physics” by reckoning they won’t be able to build the house.

  19. Gareth D Jones Says:

    I didn’t bother watching it, having wasted 13 hours last year hoping it would get better.

  20. Victoria Says:

    Nic: I kind of do mean ‘it’s so bad, it’s good’. Clearly it fails to be ‘dark’, ‘sexy’ or in the least like X-Files – I wouldn’t dream of arguing that it has thematic integrity or narrative originality or anything of the sort – but by the end I felt like it was glorying in it’s magnificent failure, that the actors had actively tossed in their lot with the script and were hamming along. It made me feel warm and fuzzy to watch something that was so unashamedly crap. :-)

  21. Abigail Says:

    After some deliberation, I’ve decided to give Torchwood a pass. Going back at this point feels like going back to an abusive boyfriend. I may, however, watch the episodes with Martha.

  22. Jonathan M Says:

    I thought Martha was under-written and under used in Who. The prospect of the character moving to a series where the writers think that constant squabbling makes for entertaining viewing and rape makes for a sympathetic protagonist does not fill me with confidence and does not make me want to tune in.

  23. Niall Says:

    Well, it’s like irresistable force meets immovable object. Martha makes everything cooler; Torchwood makes everything worse. Which will win out?

  24. Chris Says:

    Whereas Primeval is now also trying to be the X-Files (post giving it a backstory). That guy may never be seen smoking a gif but I can but refer to him as the Cigarette Smoking Man

  25. Children of Earth « Torque Control Says:

    […] of feedback he has received here). And there is also the fact that the crass camp of the first two seasons, which seemed at the time to be part of the point of the show, is very noticeable by its absence. […]


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