Thursday, April 3, 2008

Torchwood VS Star Cops

Round 1 - FIGHT!

Audience Identification Character

PC Gwen Cooper
VS
DCI Nathan Spring

Let's see... they're both police officers so aren't immediately relatable to the audience. Gwen is an essentially happy-go-lucky woman in, erm, early 30s (?) who looks hot. That instantly gives her a lead on Nathan, who's forty-something (I'm think late-ish forties) who, frankly, isn't much to look at.

We then have the problem, though, that Gwen talks likea teenager and at no stage shows any form of expertise she would have learnt from the police. She is eventually revealed to be more than a little crazy. At the same time, however, Nathan is a workaholic cold-blooded crime-solving machine who spends half his time talking to a pocket calculator with his own voice and personality. It's a stalemate, so Gwen wins out on purely superficial reasons.

Torchwood 1, Star Cops 0


Boss Character

Captain Jack Harkness
VS
Dr Alexander Krivenko


In Doctor Who, Captain Jack is an effortlessly charimsatic and instantly loveable guy, in spite of his many vices and questionable moral code. It seems only sensible for him to get his own spin-off. But at the same time it also seems sensible to actually write him in much the same way. Of all the criminal undertakings in Torchwood S1 (only seen three eps of S2) the characterisation of Captain Jack would have to be top of the list. Basically, he's a grumpy, angry old bastard who can't wait to shoot anything at all, and loses a fair degree of audience empathy due to his inability to die, on top of the fact that he's a complete prick.

Krivenko, on the other hand is the ideal boss - he's sympathetic, smart, understanding... and knows when he shouldn't get involved and when he isn't wanted. He actually seems a bit too good to be true, which is why he's a) Not actually experienced in any form of police work, so can't help the team much, and b) Is a Russian, which means nobody's sure whether they can trust him. A well devised and written character all round.

It almost depends on your tase when it comes to a boss character as to what's good, as it changes the dynamic of the show entirely. I say Krivenko wins, though, because I like him, and because Jack is also supposedly the hero, a role he fails in more often than not.

Torchwood 1, Star Cops 1


Token Asian Chick

Dr Toshiko Sato
VS
Dr Anna Shoun


...Jesus Christ. Say, if you were to take the sordid, abandoned love-child of Bonnie Langford and Rick James into a household of Star Trek fans for them to raise and then bought them a ventriloquist dummy for their twelfth birthday, the result could only be, at most, a fifth as irritating as Anna Shoun. I have only seen her for 3 minutes tops. I wanted to smash my monitor after 1. A toxic combination of bad writing and worse acting that will haunt me in my nightmares.

Torchwood 3, Star Cops -1


Comic Relief

Dr Owen Taylor/Ianto Jones
VS
DI Colin Devis


Hmm. Quite curious that both series rely on an ugly, bigoted, foul-mouthed bastard, at least paritially, for their comic relief. Ianto I guess also counts but... well, he isn't much of an actual character is he? Shaping up to be better in this new season, but it's diffuclt to actually think of him as a human being.

Anyway, Owen has fallen obsessively in love to the point that he will contemplate murder and attempt suicide, has date-raped people (it is implied he has more than once) has exploited his coworkers and generally behaved like a complete arsehole. Colin Devis doesn't do much about wisecracks and pissing off the other characters with his uncouth behaviour, but is generally likeable for being a complete loser and not being bothered by the fact. Owen has only just reached this point of his characterisation, previously being bafflingly cast in the role of office casanova despite having a mouth that looks like a cemetary. I think I'll have to go with Devis, because he's better characterised than Owen. Something not terribly impressive anyway...

Torchwood 3, Star Cops 0


Budget

7-9 Million Pounds
VS
A chip butty


Hmmm. What's the meat on that butty?

Salami

Bleh.

Torchwood 4, Star Cops 0


Cast

John Barrowman, Eve Myles, Burn Gorman, Naoko Mori, Gareth David-Lloyd
VS
David Calder, Erick Ray Evans, Trevor Cooper, Linda Newton, Jonathan Adams, Sayo Inaba


Well, I have to say both casts are largely professional and well-chosen... setting aside the quibbling facts that Nathan was a young-gun and Owen a heart-throb at script level. Sadly, Star Cops must bear the brunt of Anna Shoun once again, as she makes Burn Gorman look like Laurence Olivier.

Torchwood 5, Star Cops 0

My, not looking good for the International Space Police Force, is it?


Scripts

Chris Chibnall
VS
Chris Boucher


Hey, they're both well-known for writing in cop shows and have the same first name! I had not noticed that before!

*Ahem* Anyway, despite the fact that pretty every Star Cops story I've seen has irritatingly ended the same way (Nathan confronting some dude who explains his entire plan in a lengthy manner [even if all details have been made clear to the audience] often at the same time as making inept attempts on his life) the fact still remains that Boucher is terribly good at characterisation. You may not like his characters, but by God he knows what they do. He also does bitchy one-liners like no other man.

Chibnall can write quite well, clearly. But Cyberwoman, Countrycide and Day One are all worrisome black marks against his name.

Also, I haven't noticed Boucher ripping Angel off.

Torchwood 5, Star Cops 2

...what, I REALLY like Chris Boucher, okay?


Music

Murray Gold editing a Fatboy Slim album
VS
That dude from The Moody Blues with a Moog synthesiser



... alright, Torchwood. You win this round...

3 comments:

Youth of Australia said...

Incredibly impressed with this. I have to say though, looking at only season one of Torchwood, I'd choose SC without a doubt.

After all, in terms of characterization, originality, consistency... Boucher smashes TW's head in with a brick, feeds the remains to some lions and lets Hyde eat those lions.

I would have had Ianto vs Box, though. And sarcastic computers always appeal to me, as on paper Box is bitchier than Orac.

Nathan: Box, do I use people unfairly?
Box: Uh, how can you use people fairly? Retard. Let me sleep.

TW needs a bitchy computer. Hell, I'm surprised they haven't killed Tosh and downloaded her brain into an android, so THREE of the gang are indestructible. In fact, having Tosh revealed to be a robot would explain a lot of things. Like her violent mood swings, autodelete memory and why no one treats her as a human being.

As for Shoun... well, I did brace myself. Anything Boucher disowns HAS to be bad... he hates her more than the music, so I was expecting Cancer from Assassin. But I still underestimated her.

There aren't MANY individuals who can recite the fundamental aspects of Bhuddism and make me say, "Oh, who are you fucking kidding?!"

If she was SO bothered, she coulda shot him in the legs... when she moans that Nathan is manipulating her, I boggle: well, it's either that or SLEEPING with you, you're useless for anything else!

As for the round ups... I think maybe Boucher caught Holmes' disease of not-quite-getting-used-to-non-Doctor-Who. I mean, with the Doctor you've got an excuse for the grand reveal, and gullible companions to help with exposition. But Nathan just says stuff, and the baddie says stuff. Confirmed. Book him, Devis.

The plots have also, I noted, slanted deeply on "corrupt unseen conglomerates tricking Star Cops in the most asking-for-it manner"... I was hoping that those dehydrated corpses were down to a monster in the asteroid belt. But no. Shonky ASIAN Conglomerate.

And you missed out Token Aussie chick vs Myffanwy the Pterodactyl.

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

I have to say though, looking at only season one of Torchwood, I'd choose SC without a doubt.

I probably prefer SC too, if I'm honest. I was just taking the piss out of it for the hell of it.

I would have had Ianto vs Box, though.

Ah, yes, as 'bit support character'. Box would probably have to win...

Box: Uh, how can you use people fairly? Retard. Let me sleep.

I loved that bit!

The plots have also, I noted, slanted deeply on "corrupt unseen conglomerates tricking Star Cops in the most asking-for-it manner"...

Instead of 'the butler did it!', it's 'the corporation did it!'

Seriously, I find Star Cops quite enjoyable because it's a well-written show but you can laugh at the production values at the same time. I'd have liked to have seen a second series with ideas developed a lot more, but the Beeb didn't give it an inch.

And I really think that Nathan, Theroux, Devis, Kenzy and Krivenko are quite a loveable gang..

Youth of Australia said...

I probably prefer SC too, if I'm onest. I was just taking the piss out of it for the hell of it.
With season two of TW, I think they were worthy of fighting. Come to think of it, SC's music, awful-yet-catchy as it is, must surely count as better than Torchwood's which, after all, consists of five seconds of military music Gold sneezed up to cover some background noise in AOG, plus someone whispering the word Torchwood four million times?

It's a lot less inventive, and actually, more annoying. Come to think of it, the pretentious wankery of the lyrics "oh, it won't be easy" feel better suited to TW and their psychotic belief they can handle anything with a minimum of fuss.

Ah, yes, as 'bit support character'. Box would probably have to win...
With season 2, it'd be a close run thing as Ianto struggles to become 'wittiest deadpan sidekick outside Blake's 7'.

I loved that bit!
As did I. I hope in episode 8 or 9 a scene starts with Box going, "Jaysys, what is wrong with Shoun? She has a stroke or something? GET SOME ACTING LESSONS, GOD DAMN IT!" and hastily shutting up when Nathan and Theroux enter...

Instead of 'the butler did it!', it's 'the corporation did it!'
Sometimes... the same corporation!

Seriously, I find Star Cops quite enjoyable because it's a well-written show but you can laugh at the production values at the same time. I'd have liked to have seen a second series with ideas developed a lot more, but the Beeb didn't give it an inch.
No. Mind you, there is some for-the-time kickass CGI, often involving those space shuttles spinning in orbit. But the problem is Invasion of the Dinosaurs - it's not animation or models or sets, its using all three and praying no one notices.

And I really think that Nathan, Theroux, Devis, Kenzy and Krivenko are quite a loveable gang..
At least three writers of Season Two agree with you...