Because I forget stuff. Part of

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Originally posted November 6 2006 at 17:11 under General. 0 Comments. Trackbacks Disabled.


Finding the light

Yes, it’s time for the now weekly Torchwood episode review (bets on how long I keep that up!) As usual, spoilers ahead, so if you haven’t seen episode 4 (or possibly 1 to 3 either) stop reading before I, well, spoil it!


Well first off it was better than last weeks offering. Actually I think this was one of the most enjoyable episodes thus far (marauding cyberwoman—who seemed to have been converted in just enough places to maintain dignity—running around an enclosed space. What’s not to like?). That’s not to say it didn’t have its problems and by the end—well, by the end I think they may have gone and spoilt it.

The first problem is just the big sort of background plot hole I’m almost willing to forgive if what follows is fun enough—it still rankles though. How, exactly, are we meant to believe that Ianto managed to get a cyber-converter from London Torchwood to Cardiff Torchwood’s basement (the underground den has a basement!) without anybody noticing, while it’s keeping alive his half converted girlfriend? Did he forget to mention he’d borrowed the TARDIS to achieve the feat at some point? At least it’s almost believable that once this miraculous transportation had occurred Ianto could keep it secret. He’s probably the only one to go down there and presumably that’s where his character has been hiding all this time…

The big plot-holed machine was needed though because, you see, this is the cross-over episode. There have been the more “subtle” references to Doctor Who of course but this one is the big, hey, look, a link to that other show, ready to catch any Doctor Who fans who may be straying away. And cyber stuff is always popular you know. You might think that with all that the Doctor himself might get an explicit mention though, given he’s saved the world from those very cybermen (and some daleks) at that other Torchwood and personally knows Jack…

Anyway, on to the action. A normal doctor appears so that he can meet a fairly gruesome death and set up Ianto’s discovery. Things romp along nicely from there, if you can get past the occasional Ianto moment complete with violins to make us feel sympathy for the whining welshman. There’s Gwen waving a gun around just like she was taught to last week, see. Of course, if you’re going to wave a gun around, you might actually give shooting the cyberwoman in the rather unprotected front of the head a shot, but maybe that’s just me. It actually managed to build a little bit of tension and some excitement. Not without its share of clichés of course. Are mobile phones really that destined to go off at the most inconvenient times. It’s Gwen’s “boyfriend” calling, as that relationship becomes even more stupidly confused. Last week I mentioned how Gwen’s cosy little scene seemed to be inserted as an after thought, and this week things feel even more disjointed. That scene from last week would suggest a loving relationship having difficulties thanks to Gwen’s unusual work. Yet here she is happily snogging Owen (having spent most series being all flirty with Jack). This disjointedness of the relationship is reminiscent of the Doctor–Rose interaction in the last Doctor Who season. I’ve touched on it before that I feel this is somewhat down to the writing process but really it’s the sort of thing which should be smoothed over in the editing process. Then again, maybe the entire thing was just an excuse to go all adult and have a character say “hard-on”.

With things moving along nicely as mentioned, complete with sonic-screwdriveresque lock doors aren’t a problem, the team finally fight back via, of all things, a pterodactyl. I liked that, but the CGI was a bit over the top, not really looking real…it’s all very well having an occasional shot of a flying pterodactyl but when it’s becoming a major character and plot point the CGI really carried that “unreal” look that sort of, for me at least, intrudes a bit too much. That team needs some work as well; one of them has been hiding a very dangerous piece of alien tech in the basement of a secure facility, one’s boyfriend keeps calling at really bad times and the rest seem unable to follow orders, and/or are pretty stupid (who restores the power to the tech stuffed facility which is in the hands of the enemy without first regrouping?). Oh, and did the cyberwoman say “Human point 2?? Makes it sound like some sort of beta, not an upgrade

At this point I was, more or less, viewing with a bit of a smile. This was a bit more like it. Then came the ending…have the writers got some sort of obsession with pizza? I’ve seen some complaints that the pizza delivery girl ust walked straight through all Torchwood’s alarms and doors. Personally I just assumed that by this time she was being allowed in by Miss Cyberwoman. That’s not to say that pizza or delivery girls should have been allowed anywhere near this ending. I can forgive Jack’s little “how it starts” speech (overly dramatic as it was) and even the questionable attitude of then sending Ianto back in alone to finish it but then…he finds the cyberwoman, lying apparently dead next to her machine. That’s your ending, right there. That would have been good. I could have sympathised with Ianto right at that point—because she’s gone, because he’s too late to get a choice, because he’ll always be haunted by the choices he’s already made. They could have had her standing there and Ianto actually finishing it, finally realising that all somebody had to do was take that headshot. That would have worked too (not as well in my opinion but certainly better than what we got). Yet the writers had to push, had to “give us more”, and so there’s a pizza delivery girl complete with transplanted brain. I think I may have said “that’s just ridiculous” out loud. After that revelation moment the ending couldn’t be rescued for me. Not by the desperate “oh it’s still evil” suggestion that they should upgrade together. Not by Ianto’s waving a gun around. Not by everyone else finally realising guns make better weapons when fired. We were left with Ianto on his knees by the body of the cyberwoman he loved but he should have been there minutes earlier. The producers, writers and editors just weren’t brave enough to end it when they should.

That is part of Torchwood’s difficulties. At times it simply tries too much. There are signs of something good but when a script has a chance to just flow, to move without jarring, something overly flash or forced gets inserted, for the “human touch” in the case of Gwen’s cosy scenes, or just to show off the technology, or even just to try and be clever. For three quarters of an episode it was a good, fine romp but it all led to a huge jarring crash with a feeling of if only.

Perhaps I’m demanding too much but partly it’s frustration at the feeling that there’s a really good episode, and a pretty good series, hiding in there some place. I hope they find it before I and others give up hope.

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This Crazy Fool

Dr Ian Scott
Croydon (and Gateshead), United Kingdom
Bullding Services Engineer (EngDesign), PhD in Physics (University of York), football fanatic (Newcastle United), open source enthusiast (mainly Mozilla)

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