Monday, April 7, 2008

Torchwood v. The Little Things

Well, I've finally gotten around to watching these newfangled Torchwood episodes, and they are actually quite good. The thing is, though... it's a show with lots of little problems. This was what crossed my mind when watching Meat and I thought about the leaps of logic they need to keep the plot running. Because in that, because Torchwood desperately needed a sad ending for a change in all the highly efficient world-saving they do every week, their had to be a reason for the space-whale to go crazy and start trying to kill people.

Catherine Treganna thinks for half a second, and then says, "Oh, that's it! Someone shoots it by accident!"

I admit, in most cases this would suffice. But when you have a creature that is constantly having its flesh carved apart clumsily with chainsaws... you'd think.. maybe.. that a bullet wouldn't smart that much in comparison. Or even that most of its nerves would actually be dead from the endless pain. Or that struggling enough to be in danger of killing people would be difficult with most of its muscle missing.

Then there's the whole plot contrivance of Jack, the same dude who slammed an armoured van into a country home before diving out with a shotgun and pistol and blasting everyone away, saying that they need to go in with stun guns. Only stun guns - no actual weaponry for (the very real eventuality) that something goes wrong. What possible motivation could he have for doing this?

Catherine Treganna says "Well.. Jack decides they're dealing with disorganised criminals so it's too dangerous"

Ah. The disorganised criminal. The deadliest of enemies. See the Duke of Wellington thought it was a piece of piss going up against those petty, organised French legions, but when he had to face some completely disorganised criminals - he was bricking it!

Just in case this is all sounding too plausible - Torchwood's 'stun guns' aren't exactly 'guns'. Because guns, as most people know, fire missiles with variable range through a controlled detonation or equivalent force as catalyst. And what they have are gun-shaped tasers. That they need to get close and stick into people. Or, you know, hold against their skin if you want something a little less double entendre-ish.

Considering that the police tasers currently used in American school all the time for a means to release the sexual frustrations of inbred security guards are actually a ranged weapon, it does beg the question of why the hell Torchwood have shitty old models. That are designed to be inconspicuous by looking like a gun. Because, you know, they're meant to have the most advanced technology on the planet.

And it seems like it's one extreme or another - say, To The Last Man... that was a story that surprised me a lot by actually making me like it. Because it had good little bits in it - it was the whole that was a terrible act of derivative and pointless TV writing, but if you took it one iota at a time it's quite watchable. (Come on, all the little details about Tosh and Tommy are great!) It's enough to lead me to believe that Helen Raynor should write the character bits and somebody else writes all the bits with plots. Because she doesn't seem to have much bar "people from the past show up, people in the present scream".

Then the polar opposite of this - Dead Man Walking. The episode is generally well worked out in dramatic terms, and for the first half it's fairly difficult to fault Matt Jones aside from inflicting the credibility-destroyer of Owen's animal magnetism on us again (which is even worse than in S1 because in every other story this year he's written as a complete loser who just wants to be on his own) and giving John Barrowman an excuse to attempt a cockney accent. Well, and I guess the ripping off of Image of the Fendahl.

But when watching the last ten minutes... I started doing a running commentary again, about all the utterly retarded minor details...


GWEN: How did they stop it from getting to thirteen and where does 'faith' come into it?

JACK: Hey, I asked you that!

GWEN: You did?

JACK: Yeah, like twenty minutes ago.

GWEN: Oh? Wait did I say?

JACK: 'I don't know'

GWEN: Bollocks.

*

Jack to Martha "Don't worry - we'll find a way to reverse this... because you've got to be on Doctor Who in a couple of months! Dads won't be watching if you're looking like that. Well, not unless it's a special leather furntiure episode of the Antique's Roadshow..."

*

WHY are ALL the patients on life-support? Some of them are quite plainly physically fit. Are the Welsh unable to tell which ones are critical cases? Those crazy Welsh...

(Yeah, obviously it's so we can have the bit where every one of the support machines goes off, but COME ON! Wanting to have patients see Death arrive to their horror at the same time is having your cake and eating it too..)

*

It's nice that Jack is evacuating everyone to the carpark. The carpark that is infested with Weevils. Yes, that's right, Matt Jones, I watch for these details.

*

Hang on... they don't know what to do when they find the Grim Reaper... and their solution is to get Ianto to Google for that information. Because obviously how to kill Death itself is information that is going to be easily accessible online. I'm hoping now that the finale is Jack trying to kick the Grim Reaper in the bollocks because Ianto finds the Red Dwarf episode guide instead.

Also, yet another piece of tech-ignorance from a show trying to keep up with the times - no matter what you type into Google you will never be 'redirected'. Only Wikipedia does that. And it doesn't do it based on a phrase. Nowhere near as bad as the eBay bit in Random Shoes, though...

*

GWEN: Hey, I just heard that twelve people have been killed.

JACK: Duh, so?

GWEN: So when Death kills thirteen people we're screwed.

JACK: It's twelve now! WE'RE RUNNING OUT OF TIME!!!

GWEN: ... I just told you that.

JACK: Oh, aren't you special?

*

OWEN: What are you in here for?

JAMIE: Leukemia.

OWEN (Bernard Black style) Oh, thank god for that! I thought you were a bald midget with terrible taste in headgear!

*

OWEN: They got you in for a round of chemo?

JAMIE: No. I just thought I'd shave my head because it's the coolest look around you big-mouthed defective.

*

Wait, hang on.... Death only begins to walk the Earth when he's already provided a means for himself to be destroyed in exactly the same way as he was previously.... the script makes no fucking sense.

*

TOSH: We don't know what we're dealing with!

Erm... we have sort of established that it's the Grim Reaper. A few hints have been dropped to that effect here and there...

Nice job, though, covering up that shitty bit of scripting instantaneously with the big kissy-kissy moment.

*

OWEN: I was hurdling a hayley, you dick.


... actually he probably doesn't say that. But I can't understand a word of what Burn Gorman is saying there.

*

OWEN: How long? How long can you last here with just twelve victims?!

GRIM REAPER: Fuck. I knew learning to open doors would be useful somewhere along the line...

*

...Owen and the Grim Reaper are the kinkiest tango-partners that I've ever seen.

*

So... Martha becomes hot again... but nothing else at all that the Reaper did is reversed?

*

GOD JACK IS AN ARSEHOLE!

OWEN: Yeah, so you've caused the deaths of a dozen people because of a decision on a whim about me being hot and you wanting me back in the office, which would easily be enough to have you dishonourably discharged if this organisation ACTUALLY had any sort of code of conduct at all, and you nearly killed a visiting dignitary who happened to be visiting. You are a prick. Considering that, care to actually break the habit of a lifetime and give me my fucking job back?

JACK: Whatever.


I never like to end on a limp punchline. Or on a good one. So I'll just use this space to say that Paul Clement, whoever he is, is a gigantic cunt. Yeah. Find that quote you arsehole.

3 comments:

Youth of Australia said...

That was delightful. It really was. I'd had a shit day not getting jobs, stuck in tax agents, plus being repeatedly caught in the rain.

I agree with pretty much everything, and Raynor IS good at character moments (I was stunned when the two most VITALLY important of scenes were cut from Daleks in Manhatten, where the Doctor and Martha discuss the end of their relationship, and a big scene where they return to Hooverville). As for DMW... what can I say? It managed to work out in the end, but come to think of it, it narrowly escapes the "bad" label.

And Paul Clement was a writer on The Legacy. Left because they thought he was crap and couldn't take, how shall we say, constructive criticims.

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

stuck in tax agents,

Ooh er!

(I assume you mean their office really...)

(I was stunned when the two most VITALLY important of scenes were cut from Daleks in Manhatten, where the Doctor and Martha discuss the end of their relationship, and a big scene where they return to Hooverville)

Ooh, I'll have to check those out.

You know, I like DiM. I think its biggest problem is the odd context - if it had been made in the classic series, say in the Williams era especially, it would have felt right at home. As it is.. it's sort of like The Chase right after Revelation.

As for DMW... what can I say? It managed to work out in the end, but come to think of it, it narrowly escapes the "bad" label.

Yeah, it was a good episode all told. Like I said, just lots of distracting little things.

And Paul Clement was a writer on The Legacy. Left because they thought he was crap and couldn't take, how shall we say, constructive criticims.

Somehow, this does not come as a shock.

Youth of Australia said...

Ooh er!
(I assume you mean their office really...)

Well, yes. That's what we call their office round these parts.

Ooh, I'll have to check those out.
Real headbutt the table kind of "you kept in that Rose mention instead of THIS?!?"

OTOH, one deletion I am glad of is when, in the theatre, the Daleks stop everything to let the Doctor chat with Sec and say, "Hah, feeling superior now, tentacle boy?" "Actually, now you mention it, now. Huh, bad karma?" "Oh, you KNOW it is!"

It's SO stupid, especially after the bit where the Doctor goes, "So these new Daleks won't be killers, huh?" "No, they'll be killers. But we'll stop the whole jihad-on-the-universe business. Only a retard wouldn't be a killer..."

You know, I like DiM. I think its biggest problem is the odd context - if it had been made in the classic series, say in the Williams era especially, it would have felt right at home. As it is.. it's sort of like The Chase right after Revelation.
Yeah, it is a tad 'kid friendly', if you know what I mean. I hate to use "dumbed down", but it's struggling not to be complicated in anything beyond the technobabble lightning stuff.

Yeah, it was a good episode all told. Like I said, just lots of distracting little things.
Actually, reading TWM, I discovered that the whole glove business was added to the script. Originally, Jack found some other method to bring Owen back, one that he DIDN'T already know would be bad news, so he thought it would work fine. But someone decided to do the "other glove" angle which leaves the plot top-heavy. And apparently DEATH wouldn't actually leave Owen, because it needs thirteen to leave him, hence locking himself in a deserted part of the hospital...

Oh well.

Somehow, this does not come as a shock.
He is, without doubt, a dickhead. At least the others seem to be nice (if insanely fanatical about the DWADs)...