...well, it's quite easy to see why Something Borrowed is seen as the televisual equivalent of Robert Mugabe.
To other stuff first....
What is the deal with PJ Hammond? I really liked the idea behind From Out of the Rain - that a malfunctioning projector channeling surreal rift energy should bring photos to life Red Dwarf style - but then I find out that isn't actually the idea at all. Because, for some reason, Hammond doesn't seem to get the idea behind Torchwood, that it's the Rift and stuff that come out of it that makes all the weird stuff happen in Cardiff that Torchwood need to protect the Welsh from. Hammond just thinks that weird shit happens for no reason and they deal with it... because they're conveniently around when it does.
Okay, the Rift is name-checked... but so what? That's the only hint of an explanation for what's going on. For the rest of it, we're meant to file it all under "The Night Travellers Are Weird". That's the only explanation for why The Ghostmaster and Pearl are able to manipulate the editing machine to put themselves into the film in the first place, how they can magically appear out of nowhere in Cardiff streets, how they can store humans souls in a run-down shed by an abandoned swimming pool etc.
The suggestion seems to be that all of The Night Travellers are supernatural beings and that Pearl and The Ghostmaster are the most powerful... okay, what do they do with the people they steal? What the hell is up with that? Remember, at the start of the episode, they steal a crowd of a dozen or so 1920s people. Why? Where do they go? I don't think they needed their souls then... why do they need souls again? Why isn't any of this explained?!
It's not as if there ISN'T oppurtunity for any of this shit to be explained.. I mean, the middle of the episode is nothing but padding. Plenty of time to provide half an explanation for ANY of this. But for some reason this time is all used for Ghostmaster and Pearl to re-enact all of the Rutger Hauer/Daryl Hannah scenes from Blade Runner. Which does nothing but demonstrate why Paul Darrow was never in the running for the role of Roy Batty.
(Completely irrelevant sidenote - did anyone else think that was Peter Miles in the part? Well, probably not because the people I know who read this see all the cast notes beforehand but COME ON! The resemblence is quite disturbing, and even though it's more of an impersonation the voice even sounded similar. The only reason I didn't feel positive it was him was because he didn't look thirty years older... but then I still figured he could have gotten whatever freakish genes Nicola Bryant has. Screw Davros, this guy is the new Rontane! Yes, that's right, Rontane needs to make a comeback...)
I do kind of like From Out of the Rain, though, for the last ten minutes. You know, where Jack actually thinks of a really clever way of killing the alien menace, and GOES THROUGH WITH IT. And Owen gets bitch-slapped unbelievably. It's a really good bit of action, only spoilt by some rather odd script writing where Ianto suddenly becomes the narrator..
"I've got the flask!"
"If those souls come out, they'll die!"
And probably one or two other ones.
Something else that really distracted me, and probably would have pissed off PJ Hammond, is the fact their budget didn't stretch to enough extras for the film scenes to really work. See, the idea was clearly that there would be quite a lengthy reel of circus stuff, with various performances. We would see:
*Tatooed man & fellow Night Travellers
It's all their in the dialogue. For the first lot, Jack sees them and waxes nostalgic over their friendship, as they by freakish coincidence happen to be from his circus. But THEN we see the Night Travellers, seemingly in group shot as Jack instantly recognizes them and refers to them in plural. Instead he's reacting to a shot of a singular Tatooed Man. Why exactly the Tatooed Man is so recogniseable is quite a mystery, because you think he'd be one of the less memorable of the group.
Jack then announces that he had nothing to do with the Night Travellers, and nor did any of his friends. Of course, they couldn't find two sets of performers, so ironically the jugglers, clowns and strongman that he specifically said he was mates with and wouldn't have joined the Night Travellers... were in the Night Travellers. And in fact were the core membership. Not that he seems to recognise them or anything...
Anyone else reckon PJ Hammond probably had a scarier group in mind. Like, instead of camp clowns and two dudes in viking helmets juggling, a Voodoo witch-Doctor with some monkeys, one of those long-necked tribespeople breathing fire, a lady with snakes crawling all over her, a contortionist-swordswallower that sort of thing? Something genuinely freaky? *Sigh* If only they had The Sideshow's casting manager...
But now onto Something.... no, I'm going to pass for a moment and talk about A Day in the Death.
I feel kinda sorry for Joe Lidster. (Nearly wrote "Dave Lister" then. Curse you, Campion-Clarke!) He's been really type-cast as "that dude who writes emo stories" and it's kind of a fair cop in light of the fact that he writes emotional and character moments very well. Even though I have mocked him for the somewhat soap-operaish tone of The Reaping it was utterly appropriate for the story and was well-handled.
The thing is, though, Joe Lidster can do quite a bit beyond emo stuff. But he gets commissioned for stuff like A Day in the Death that's one long character piece with a tacked-on piece of plot that essentially serves as a book-end for the story. And one for Owen, of all frigging people. Yeah, he's just died but I'm already over it.
He does a good job regardless of what he has to work with, and I don't know whether to praise his foolhardiness or trash his pig-headed arrogance when he actually tries to tie together the continuity of Seasons 1 & 2, as Owen announces to Tosh that he consciously decided to abandon his womanising ways and become the total loser that he has been this series. Clearly he (or the script editor) doesn't want this to get out of hand, because there is no mention at all of shagging Gwen (Notice how vigorously that has been ignored this season? Suddenly it's her and Jack that are the couple... it's like it was a bad dream the entire team had...)
Quite a large amount of the episode is concerned with what Owen can and cannot do not that he's dead... and to me it feels like they're making the rules up as they go along. I mean, presumably the general idea is that his brain functions perfectly (due to the glove energy) but his blood doesn't pump. This accounts for quite a few of the ideas (no breathing, no body heat (though his brain would produce some heat)) but in other aspects it confuses me. Why can't he eat or drink anything? Digestion is performed using stomach acids, not bloods, and from then on its muscles that do the work and Owen's muscles are fine (for some reason - without oxygen from the bloodstream they'd die and exercise doesn't provide this if you can't breath)
That said, I'm also bothered by the fact that once his brain was working it wouldn't be hard to bring him to life properly. If Martha had worked quickly she could have given him a heart and lung transplant a full blood transfusion - it's been well established that Torchwood have enough medical gear around to try it - and he would have been as god as new. Scientists have already discovered that this is possible on regular dead humans if the blood is evacuated and replaced with a low-temperature saline solution shortly after death and the relevant operations undertaken (Well.. by 'humans' I guess I mean 'dogs'...) and with Owen his body was already perfectly preserved by that damned magic glove.
The one thing that I cannot forgive this episode for, however... is revealing that Owen talked Lucie Miller out of killing herself. Christ, Lidster, I had enough reasons to hate the guy.
Damnit, I'm out of options. I'm going to have to talk about Something Borrowed...
Does Phil Ford know any women? Because the entire basis of the episode seems to be "women are crazy!" because it relies utterly on Gwen behaving in such an unbelievably rash and illogical way, a way, I hasten to add, I have not known any women to behave in. In fact, his characterisation of Gwen seems to be so bad that it's been deliberately retconned by Chris Chibnall two episodes later.
I mean, how can you not drop your jaw when Gwen goes "Wait a minute, I just realised - if this baby I'm carrying disappears, all my rellos will want to know where it went!"
Even though she and Rhy thought they were alone, Private Dexter appears out of nowhere, screams "HOH-YAH, I-HADDEN-FORTA-DAAAT!" before vanishing again.
Is it wrong of me to think that Eve Myles looked kind of cute with the prosthetic baby-bump? It is? Well, better forget I ever mentioned it then.
Aside from the terrible setup this episode really deserves the title of most brain-dead story yet. And in Torchwood that really is a prize you don't want. Once we have established that there's an evil vampire woman shape-shifter who wants to kill Gwen, there is a logical scene that needs to be shown - Torchwood gang runs into room with guns out, and rather than actually try anything subtle like knocking the shapeshifter out or sneaking up before shooting it from point-blank etcetera, one screams out [utterly needlessly] "THAT'S HER, THAT'S HER!!", allowing her time to get away/take a hostage, and in the process she is shot repeatedly.
I can appreciate that we need to see this scene.
We don't need to see it four or five times, however. Especially when one of those times involves John Barrowman in fucking ridiculous makeup, looking like somebody thrown out of The Rocky Horror Picture Show for being too camp.
What really blows my mind is that after the final scene of shooting the shapeshifter from a distance, by which point it looks lik fucking Swiss Cheese, Owen cannily observes that it seems to be resistant to bullets.
Thank you, Ron Mallet. Astonishingly, though, this is meant to be a revelation to the audience, and Jack sounds incredibly proud of his genious when he announces that he has an idea... of getting a bigger gun. Whoa, hold that News Years Honours List, matron!
At this point Gwen and Rhys are running like fuck and Gwen's feeling contractions and Vampire Lady is right behind them... you know, I was just thinking then that this could have been a novel oppurtunity for Gwen to birth the eggs naturally and Vampire Lady to take them happily and everyone to live happily ever after. It's the sort of 90-degree twist in story telling that would be very appreciable after the amount of shit that we've gone through.
But no, Rhys decides that it's time to kill the baby. And he pulls out a gigantic plot contrivance - Owen's Patented Totally Unreliable Exploding Magic Wand! This seriously pissed me off because this particularly contrivance has had its day in Reset. You're not meant to bring it back for exactly the same scene. It also pissed me off with Rhys trying to justify the fact that he's magically able to use it with a hurried "Owen showed me how". Owen. The most stand-offish bastard in Torchwood. Who takes inordinate pride in his skills and abilities. Showed you how to work the magic wand. That took him months to work out how to set a piece of paper alight in a styrofoam cup.
And of course, it works first try!
Then, just to give me a laugh, Rhys grabs a chainsaw out of nowhere and sets out to kill Vampire Lady... and then stops for some reason. I've no idea why. Possibly he's just seen Jack's gigantic gun and needs a stiff drink ala George's enormous trousers in Blackadder III. And as a reward for his hard work he gets Alien Vampire Blood all over his best tux.
Oh, and then Jack drugs everyone at his wedding reception. The End.
This episode is amazingly bad. For my money, the worst of all episodes of Torchwood yet. Yes, even worse than Cyberwoman. The only point of this episode seems to be to get the inevitable marriage episode out of the way, to vainly try and convince the audience that there was some sort of romantic-subplot for Gwen and Jack in Season One (It's not working, you bastards!) and to spoil my fantasies by showing me how badly Nerys Hughes has aged over the past 20 years. Mother. Fucker.
All evidence points to this episode originally being set before Adam in the running (hence why Gwen turns up back to the Hub after a week in Paris in that story)but being forcefully moved into the low-ratings period instead, because it is utter shit.
The most disturbing thing is that Lawrence Miles only seems to find it objectionable for depicting it as alright to abort an alien foetus.
I mean... what am I meant to say to follow that one up?