Saturday, February 9, 2008

MASSIVELY TOPICAL TORCHWOOD REVIEW

Okay, when I watched the finale of Torchwood S1 - in actual fact a double-episode comprised of both Captain Jack Harkness and End of Days - I had wordpad open ready to write my half-time predictions. But things got out of hand when I started getting more and more pissed off with the same old crap from TW, seemingly doomed to forever be more of a joke than DW, which is fairly impressive given the reaming that DW gets from some peeps.

Anyway, I ended up writing a log of all the moments that pissed me off, and my response to them. May not make sense without the episode itself. As is, it's like half a MST3K

Captain Jack Harkness

OWEN: December 24th - that was when Diane flew through the rift...

Thanks, Owen. I couldn't have coped with just the recap I saw a few seconds ago

IANTO: You were in love with her, weren't you?

More subtle exposition. Captain Jack Harkness travels through time and space, with one constant companion... Captain Obvious.

RANDOM GIRL: Why is George dancing with a Jap?

I get that racism is a very serious issue (At least for everyone not working on Little Britain) but where is the rule that says that racism can only be put into a modern-day period piece with all the subtlety of the typical Hitler campaign? Why the fuck is Jack shocked at this racism when he lived in the 40s for years? Why are we meant to be, for that matter?

JACK: Hey, you could always dance with me if you wanna...

...and now he's forgotten about the existence of homophobia. Well done, man!

(Note, it's since been revealed in DW, of course, that Jack has actually lived through the entire 20th Century. Twice. Which makes his apparent ignorance of homophobia, racism and discrimination even less credible. And it's pretty incredible when you notice he has a brain)

JACK: It's not my name: it's his... but I didn't realise he was... so HOT!

Chris Chibnall's idea for making a well-rounded, credible character... have them absolutely obsessed with sex no matter how sombre the ocassion.

OWEN: Shit! (Awkward Pause, staring into nothing) SHIT!

Remember, folks, they hired Burn Gorman for the part because his acting "blew them away". (Not for Brad Pitt-style looks..) Imagine what the other auditionees were like...

COMPUTER: Your battery is running low.

Who the fuck would design a laptop that has a "low battery" warning that takes up THE ENTIRE SCREEN? Most retarded thing ever.

SATO: This period... you look like you fit in...

Well, apart from the whole ineptly hitting on aggressive heteros and getting yourself punched out thing... but he has been wearing a 1940s period dress uniform for the past year, nice to see you started paying attention..

JACK: He dies.

SATO: When?

JACK: Tomorrow.


Sorry, when did they get the date?

(Note, they probably did get it somewhere so you can ignore that complaint. Unless it turns out I was right!)

GWEN: Just a silly dare. Someone said it was haunted.

Again, writers have trouble with the whole "Gwen isn't 15 years old" thing.

GEORGE: How many did you kill in the Battle of Britain? 26?

Pedantic time, but there was only one American pilot who fought in the Battle of Britain and he made zero confirmed kills before being shot down himself. I know this because Tom Cruise wanted to make a film about him...

GWEN: He wears a cravaT. (Nb, weird pronounciation)

HOLY SHIT! IT'S THE SAME GUY!!! No more evidence is needed than that piece of fashion. Not for the Scooby Gang, anyway...

IANTO: No, Gwen, get out, wait for back up!

Back-up being an effeminate butler sort and a cockney Doctor/pervert. I wouldn't be feeling too confident.

As in Robin Hood and B7, it's moments like this where a gang of six against the world feels a bit naff.

IANTO: Get out of there, Gwen, and that's an order!

Am I the only one who remembers Ianto being introduced as the caretaker of the building, rather than a bona fide agent?

IANTO: Open the rift now and the whole world could suffer!

He's at it again!

OWEN: Mainly because Diane didn't try and kill us all and, oh yeah, she also happened to be a HUMAN BEING!

For some reason continuity in Torchwood needs to be yelled or it doesn't count.

(It's also worth noting that there are an awful lot of characters who are also both human and not attempting to kill members of Torchwood. It may also be that they don't know them very well, though...)

OWEN: There's a piece missing - we gotta find it!

Smoothe McGuffin...

JACK: Is that it? (...) Kiss her goodbye!

Once again Jack forgets that he is, in fact, a human and doesn't have the right to wholesale steal lines from The Doctor...

GWEN: What would Jack and Tosh do? How would they try and help us?...

..ah, nevermind, I'll just run after the weird alien guy who's undoubtedly evil...oh, yeah and lets chop the film up with heaps of white flashes. That's artistic.

IANTO: Be careful, Gwen. Bilis is still around.

And he's the BAD GUY. You seemed to get a bit confused on that point...

HARKNESS: Is Toshiko your woman?

JACK: No. There's no-one.


Example #3345 of the fun-ectomy Jack had between PotW and Torchwood

*

Jack is freaked out when Harkness comes on to him. Yep. Totally in character. Well, I'm assuming that he's been gelded..

*

The falling apart of Torchwood into a bloody fight between Ianto and Owen is clearly meant to be a shocking moment showing us that the organisation is at it's lowest ebb, hence building tension for the oncoming climax. Unfortunately, something very similar to this happens every frigging week on the show, so it loses absolutely all meaning.

IANTO: You have to let Diane go, just like I did Lisa.

Funnily enough, Owen didn't mention Diane. It was just Ianto, blathering on like an idiot.

OWEN: You're just a tea-boy.

IANTO: I'm much more than that.


A tea-boy with a crap haircut and a breaking voice? But still, gives some sort of meaning to Ianto's bizarrely and suddenly expanded role...

OWEN: In your dreams, Ianto... your sad wet-dreams where you're his part-time shag, maybe...

Again with the characters behaving like school children. Also note the implied homophobia on Owen's part, a strangely recurring theme considering that the season opener featured him date-raping a strange man as a spur-of-the-moment thing...

(*Ianto shoots Owen*)

w00t! Actually not a negative point. Good, in fact. Very, very good. Now, how long til he dies?

GEORGE: What's he doing?

He's reversed the polarity of the homophobia flow! For the next five minutes homosexuality is no longer even against the law! Enjoy his spirited rendition of the French tonsil hockey grand finale with another man in front of everybody! We should retcon history more often. Is Jack now going to get on a jetpack and ferry all the Jews to England one by one?

*

NB: In the time it has taken Owen to get back to Torchwood, fix the Rift device, crack Jack's safe, have 5000 arguments with Ianto, open the rift, and get shot, Gwen has managed to open her car and get in.

End of Days

RHYS: You know it's rude to stare...

Wha? Rhys is still alive? Isn't he, like, 12 episodes late for being killed off?

JACK: You people love anything that denies the randomness of existence.

Uh, Jack? You aren't an alien, remember?

OWEN: Are we goin' to sit around crying in our lattes...

a) Nobody is drinking coffee in this scene

b) People are angry at Owen, not sad

c) They've only just discovered what the effing problem IS!

OWEN: Or are we going to do something about it?!

Considering what happened the last time you decided to fix a problem, the lack of enthusiasm on show is very understandable...

OWEN: You can't control time WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO?

A moment ago it was 'we'! Owen, you are a worthless prick.

OWEN: No thanks, I'll be fine on my own.

Again, previous experience says no you won't be.

GWEN: Do you have to pick on him in public like that?!

Yeah, Torchwood is a very public place. And also, Jack simply pointed out that Owen caused the whole mess, before Owen started shouting out nonsense in the form of 'dialogue'. Yes, Gwen had sex with Owen, which is probably what justified this line in Chibnall's strange reality...

GWEN: All your staff have feelings, Jack. Even Owen!

JACK: Well, you would know.


Chris, mate, please listen - this is NOT A HIGH SCHOOL DRAMA! They're meant to be saving the fucking world!

ANDY: Excuse me? Hi. Any time you feel like talking sense?

Oh, the irony. Look at the writer's name, my friend. Mwuhahaha!

(Note, I was under the impression that this episode was the work of Chibnall alone, simply going off the feel of things. I don't know who wrote it, nor want to know, but they are a Grade-A jack as this is one of the worst pieces of television I have ever seen)

JACK: That soldier came through a crack in time.

ANDY: He's not serious, is he?


Ahh, those crazy policemen. They never watch the news. Commonly known fact.

ANDY: Everyone's saying it, you know... at work and on the streets... do you think this the end of the world?

Ah. He got up to speed while they were walking down the corridor. Smart lad. Nice initiative.

RANDOM DOCTOR: We waited for you! You've gotta stop this!

How does he know about the deus ex machina method for revolving this crises? Really, what did he expect? Did someone give him Torchwood's number and claim it was the Jesus Christ Hotline?

OWEN: Scared enough, yet? Cos fuck knows I am!!!

More of the mature adult drama, as dictated by Chris Chibnall. It works much the same way as Bruce Willis movies.

TOSH: Okaasan?

That's the honourable form of referring to someone else's mother, or to your own in polite company. Generally, the informal term of address would be appropriate, which is 'Haha'.

Yeah, I know, it's an understandable error, really, but I still spotted it.

*

Erm, why does Owen leave by walking into a bio-hazard zone, when not wearing his protective gear?

JACK: Have I ever let you down?

Several times. Clearly Jack doesn't keep track of it all.

*

Ianto: Weevil Hunter

(Note, I have no idea what that even referred to now)

GWEN: Can we stop them from making that noise?

Ahhh, Gwen. She always knows how to prioritize in a crisis.

IANTO: We'll have to open the cells below it's just... we've never used them while I've been here...

Which would be the same amount of time as the others, if not less? You were in Torchwood One and transferred after Canary Wharf, remember? It's not always about you, Ianto.

*

FOR FUCK'S SAKE, STOP SHOVING FLASHBACKS DOWN MY THROAT! I KNOW WHO LISA IS, I WATCH THE FRIGGING SHOW!

JACK: Owen, how was the hospital?
OWEN: Laugh a bloody minute.

Was it supposed to be?

OWEN: I suggest you lead us...

Selflessness personified.

OWEN: Who the fuck are you, anyway?

How come he hasn't been so much as tempted to ask this earlier? Remeber people, he's been working there about two years..

OWEN: I would say thanks for the memories...

This moment would mean something if anyone at all so much as nearly liked Owen.

*

Aww, Burn Gorman's so cute when he tries to cry convincingly!

*

No complaints for a while here. The reason? Bilis Manger rocks. But it brings me back to...

OWEN: Diane...

HOW MANY RECAPS CAN YOU PUT IN A SHOW?! IS THIS FOR CHRONIC ADHD SUFFERERS? Not, only that, but it's A RECAP THAT'LL MAKE NO SENSE TO PEOPLE WHO DIDN'T SEE THE EPISODE!!!

RANDOM BLOKE: You aren't allowed to drink there, mate.

Huh? Do Cardiff people take umbrage if you dare drink alcohol at the bar? I'm having trouble understanding these Welsh customs...

JACK: Not gonna happen!

Jack could have a point. The fact that visions of the future were irrefutable law in Ghost Machine is meaningless here, as the laws of the Torchwood Universe are allowed to change regularly. Case in point: They Keep Killing Suzie = no afterlife. Random Shoes = afterlife.

RHYS: Do you work here? I'm Rhys... Gwen's boyfriend and *Hngkkhgurglegurglegurgle*

Whoa! Rhys getting killed! Who could ever have seen that coming?! I defy anyone to suggest they thought that he was going to die!!!! MOST UNPREDICATABLE HAPPENING IN HISTORY!

GWEN: You never even met him...

Chris, if you're reading this... please please please - STOP. I'm serious. I'm sure it's not your intention to turn Gwen, Torchwood's "human element" into a completely mindless and unlikeable bitch everytime you get on the word processor, but it's exactly what happens. Every time.

GWEN: The resurrection gauntlet

IANTO: Was destroyed.

GWEN: You could grab something else!


Is she completely delusional? Have they been tripping over resurrection devices constantly and I just haven't noticed it?

GWEN: There's got to be something you can do or WHAT'S THE FUCKING POINT OF YOU?!?

I think the real question is why everyone in Torchwood is now seeing Jack as their own, personal, one-man all-purpose problem solver. I mean, he's just their boss. If I ran a business I wouldn't expect employees bringing me their dead pets and asking me to bring them back to life.

And what is with all the swearing in this episode? Yeah, I know I'm not exactly The Wiggles in that regard, but it's really gratuitous, out of character, and just distractingly frequent. I think it's Chris reminding us that this is the series finale, seeing as the sluggish pace and constantly shifting plot haven't given any sense of it so far...

TOSH: You came back!

What... the fuck. Why does she grin like an idiot when she says that? Owen walking through the door somehow overrides a dude getting killed and Gwen having a full mental breakdown? And why's she so excited to see Owen back? She hates him after Greeks Bearing Gifts!

OWEN: Are you right? Are you okay?

What do you think, O-man?

JACK: Yeah. Because you're so in love with Rhys that you spend half your time in Owen's bed.

This is a tried and true negotiating technique. Just because it didn't work here, doesn't mean there's anything fundamentally wrong with it. Honest. Go out and try it.

OWEN: I'm sick of people doubting me!

Whoa, calm down. Maybe you should have mentioned it in an earlier episode if it bothered you so much...

*

Why didn't they need everyone's retina scans last week?

GWEN: Right, Jack, everything is going to go back to normal...

..... yeah. She is delusional. Unless there are earthquakes in Wales every week. I'm learning some fascinating things about that country..

GWEN: What do we do, Jack? How do we stop it?

... don't they realise how pathetic they all look?

*

Well that was resolved incredibly quickly...

GWEN: I wanna sit with him.

You punched him out and swore your head off at him just a matter of hours ago!

TOSH: It's been days.

Thank you, Ms Narrator.

CHRIS CHIBNALL: Hey, a kiss is what brings the dead person back to life! That's never been done before! I'm a genius!

Wrong on all counts.

*

We needed the kiss between Jack and Ianto as well. Subtle innuendo is never, ever enough for this show.

*

Erm, Jack gets in the TARDIS? That's the cliffhanger ending to the season I heard about? Huh. Not... as dramatic as I was expecting.

7 comments:

Youth of Australia said...

Great reviews as always.

Good point about Jack's ignorance of homophobia when logically living through such repressed times plus the whole immortality gig is what killed his fun gene. Maybe he's doing a Stephen Fry and using the camp stuff as a verbal weapon to confuse people?

As for snogging Harkness, I kind of accepted the idea that the American dude WOULDN'T be instantly fired/shamed/humiliated on the grounds that the witnesses would also have to explain who the mysterious "James Harper" was and why he vanished in blue light. They would put it down to some funky fumes or something.

As for Billis... I like the guy as a villain, but seriously. Ianto screams HE'S EVIL! For no evidence whatsoever. And what the fuck is up with the main fuse of a rift manipulator being in the evil guy's office? Why did Billis take it? He WANTS the rift open - and if he's playing some wierd game, why hide it so carefully?

I also note that in B7/RH, the characters muse on how stuffed up it is that six people could change the world. Yet, somehow in this wacky Cardiff of no long term memory, it is apparently bad form to have more than five operatives at one time! They only offer Gwen a job once Suzie shoots herself!

I'm really starting to think that Torchwood is beyond saving, and the script editors are clearly giving up...

Youth of Australia said...

I forgive Jack's strangely childish behavior at the start of this ep. Fuck, if I had to put up with Owen the Testosterone Poster Boy, Psycho Ianto, Tosh Who? and Holier-Than-Thou Gwen, I'd be slagging them off as well. And not wasting decent quips on them either. Hell, the only real issue I have is that it has taken THIRTEEN LONG EPISODES for everyone to realize the five people in charge of the time rift are the same five that should under no circumstances be let near it. Would you trust Nigel Verkoff to manage a brothel? Ben Chatham to run a brewery? Ricky Gervais with anything?

And at the end of this they have the temerity to shout "YOU LEFT US, JACK! YOU'RE SO MEAN!"

Ianto: Weevil Hunter
(Note, I have no idea what that even referred to now)

Presumably the bit where Ianto locks two Weevils in one room singlehanded with not a single scratch.

Sigh. And I'm pretty sick of the Weevils developing nifty skills the help the plot. If someone is REAL EVIL, they're scared of him. If other Weevils are involved, they're telepathic. If time is in flux, they're time sensitive.

And why couldn't they be created by the Daleks instead of pig slaves! IT WOULDA BEEN CHEAPER FOR ONE THING!!

And why does Owen need to be retconned? For over two years of memories, that'd leave him braindamaged, surely? Isn't he going to think "ARGH! TWO YEARS OF MY LIFE HAVE VANISHED WHEN I WENT TO BED!" ... which is exactly what happened to Jack when he fled the Time Agency. But Jack's happy to do this to other people.

*thud thud thud*

Why does she grin like an idiot when she says that?
I completely forgot she hated him, and just assumed she was the same puppy dog happy around him as always... which is sickening now I think of it. I tell you, this takes standalone episodes to new hieghts!

OWEN: I'm sick of people doubting me!
Who doubted him? I mean, the whole problem was caused by the fact he DID what he SAID he would do!

As for the cliffhanger, it struck me how utterly wrong it felt to hear the TARDIS in the Hub.

It's so much better than that.

Cameron Mason said...


As for the cliffhanger, it struck me how utterly wrong it felt to hear the TARDIS in the Hub.

It's so much better than that.


That's why we don't see it materialise.

It's starts to, but then HADS kicks in and the TARDIS lands outside of the Hub.

Cameron

Youth of Australia said...

And, disturbingly, that's what RTD says...

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

It's starts to, but then HADS kicks in and the TARDIS lands outside of the Hub.

LMAO!

"Crappy spin-off detected - abort! ABORT!"

The fact that that is actually canonical just makes it all the more delicious.

I still want to know how Jack manages to get out without anyone seeing him. Does he transform into Mrs Utterson for a couple of seconds?

Youth of Australia said...

Well, there's a lovely interview in DWM where RTD gets stopped in the street about five times and asked that question.

He explains that the TARDIS doesn't actually land in the Hub, but the sound is heard because the rift is screwed up. Jack thus knows it is going to arrive and uses a secret passage to escape.

Of course, that doesn't explain why he leaves the hand in the Hub. Or where he got the backpack from. Or why the plass is empty. Just an on-screen blooper, like those "Visit the Doctor Who exhibition" posters in Everything Changes?

And the biggest question is...

WHY DIDN'T YOU CHANGE UTOPIA TO FIT IN WITH END OF DAYS SINCE YOU HAD A YEAR AND A HALF TO DO SO?!

I think we know the answer.

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

Of course, that doesn't explain why he leaves the hand in the Hub. Or where he got the backpack from. Or why the plass is empty. Just an on-screen blooper, like those "Visit the Doctor Who exhibition" posters in Everything Changes?

And there's a breeze in the Hub suggesting that the TARDIS is landing there from memory. And also I'm sure Jack was sitting in his shirtsleeves but we next see him wearing his greatcoat. And if he had a secret passage why didn't he use it in Cyberwoman? And why didn't he want to be seen by anyone else in Torchwood?

Etc, etc, etc...

(It's even worse than the way Zagreus and Scherzo fail to link up!)