Sunday, 18 September 2011

Torchwood 4

Warning! Danger, Will Robinson!
Here be Torchwood 4x10 SPOILERS!

Where do I start? Hmm... First things first.

Hands up all those who were really really nervous about Starz Network paying for this series of Torchwood? I must admit, I was a bit sceptical. And then I saw the opening episode.

True, it was more of an introduction to the concept of Torchwood than an actual full-on episode, and it wasn’t anywhere near the standard of usual Torchwoodery... but I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt and go with it. Subsequent episodes got better and better - and then I got my miracle:

All the way through series one, two and especially three, I tolerated Gwen Cooper. She wasn’t always annoying; she had a few moments where I almost got to like her. And then the writers would make her do something that made me wish she’d died instead of Suzie - or Owen, or Tosh, or just about anyone. Her compassion came over wrong - I began to dislike her.

And then we had series four.

During the first couple of episodes I thought, hang on, she’s not so annoying right now. She hasn’t been the whole time. And just about the third episode I thought, blimey, she’s actually a character I actively like. And I mean LIKE. Not as much as Jack, but hey, that’s impossible. I actually didn’t want her to die in a fire, or get mowed down by a dalek, or eaten by a rabid bugblatter beast from Traal. And from there she just got better and better. Truly miraculous.

Now I have a few theories about this. The first goes, rather predictably, that now that RTD is no longer writing the episodes, the character has to act like every other in terms of pulling their weight within the dynamic of the team - they no longer have a free pass to hang about being The Speyshall One. Now they have to actually do something that makes a fandom / casual watcher / audience member want them to be there (or, in case of recurring villains, make everyone love to hate them). The second theory, and probably a much more plausible one, is that the character of Gwen was now being written by a woman. A woman who’s written for shitloads of other women in TV. Now I’m not exactly sure what difference that makes, but whatever it was, it was a big one. What do I take from this? That RTD doesn’t write women very well? Or it needed a female American scriptwriter to give Gwen a proper character? Who knows.

Funny I should put it like that. I did like the many little nods to the Doctor throughout the series. From Jack going a bit misty-eyed about telling Angelo about the Doctor and his companions to mentioning Silurians, there were a few tiny touches I liked - even the ubiquitous ‘What? What? What?’ got in there. Coincidence? Or a fun way to remind everyone that this was a finale that had another series coming? (Note - we can hope there’s another series coming. I haven’t looked but no news has been brought to my attention on that point. I really need to spend a day on Tinternet. You see how going abroad screws up your routine?)

An honourable mention must go to Kai Owen - he went with the lines, he did them well, and he will always be a favourite of mine. I’m so glad he wasn’t side-lined completely. We saw enough of him to make me happy.

Jack. We love Jack, that goes without saying. But put him in a room with a sci-fi legend like Bill Pullman and you have a very interesting chill to the room. Bill Pullman does excellent work, and this time he really made my flesh crawl. Bloody excellent. Even his end was enough to make me want to stab him in the eye. The new cast and crew were tolerable at first, and better as it went on. We lost people, yes, but it was part of the story, not just to shock - although they did that too. And talking of shocking - it was about time Jack got his end away. He did mention fallen comrades and previous relationships (was I the only one who liked that he talked about Ianto - twice?), and he did the Jack thing and helped himself wherever he wanted. And that’s why we like him.

And talking of guest stars - whoa! Nana Visitor and John de Lancie? Are you shitting me? I nearly died of happiness fangirl overload when Major Kira and Q appeared. Both characters shamefully underused but brilliantly cast. I’ll never agree with what happened to them both, but that’s just a fangirl throwing her toys out of the pram because what happened to her favourites was not what she wanted personally. They’re both still fab - who else could be the balls-out granddaughter, or running the bloody CIA? Suffice to say, I’m sighing rather happily right now.

In a nutshell - I liked it. It took time to get going, that’s for damn sure, but it got there in the end. It’s even eclipsed the current series of Doctor bloody Who in my priority stakes - but that’s a discussion for another day. Overall, it did the job. It was business as usual at the Torchwood Institute, and whether moaning anti-Americans liked it or not, it did exactly what Hot Rod Cow’s been doing for the past three series. The only gripe I had was that there were no aliens. Perhaps now that this series has paved the way for more coverage in the US, and hopefully, more of a budget and a need for a series five, we might get them. After all, no matter what Gwen says, it’s the alienness of the show that drew me, and that’s what I was waiting for. No, I didn’t get it - throwaway lines about alien technology and futures, other stars, other adventures with the Doctor only go so far. Now the US has had this primer, it’s time to bring in the aliens.

That’s it, I’m done. Time to catch up on Doctor bloody Who with tea and hope that we’re not about to be swamped in more Amy-appreciation.

Peach and lube, people. Especially you, John Barrowman.

~ ~ ~

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