Torchwood: Everything Changes

Oh, Torchwood, there you are, with your big silly SUV and your big silly shots of people standing on tall buildings for no reason whatsoever. I remember being full of hope prior to the launch, and a big group of us wound up at mine to watch it at the end of a rather boozey weekend. It was a double bill, but having rewatched the first episode tonight, the last thing I want to do is watch another.

My memory is that Series 1 is pretty much an unmitigated disaster, then there’s a handful of good episodes in Series 2, Children of Earth is surprisingly fantastic, and I didn’t even get to the end of Miracle Day. I’m determined to keep an open mind though, and to try and reap some enjoyment out of it even if it does turn out to be, as I suspect, a load of complete shit.

That said, let me talk about what’s wrong with it. It’s very self-consciously “adult”, but it misunderstands what that should entail. It’s not enough to just pepper in some incongruous swearing and make everyone bisexual – it’s like a teenage fantasy of adulthood. The CSI bloke at the beginning suddenly dropping the fuck-bomb seemed to be a statement of intent, and it is, just not in the way they were aiming for.

The Torchwood team are simply not very good people, are they? There’s nobody questioning the morality of bringing a murder victim back to life for two minutes of constant abject terror. Later, they appear to be just hiding in the cordoned-off area of the hospital while Gwen chats to the Weevil, and they don’t think to intervene until that poor porter has been brutally killed.

By far the worst of the bunch is Owen, who’s a weird octagon-faced little robot man, whose chosen alien superpower is Red Dwarf‘s sexual magnetism virus, but when he uses it, it’s essentially a date rape drug. The similar connotations of Jack slipping a retcon pill into Gwen’s drink seemingly didn’t occur either. And yes, the obvious way around that particular problem would be to just write things down with a pen and paper, so that the tea boy (God rest his soul) can’t delete it with his big delete button.

There’s so much stupidity on show that I was indeed reasonably entertained. The cut to the aforementioned shots of Jack on a big building made me laugh almost as much as I cried yesterday. I’d forgotten about his line earlier, when Gwen asked him about the missing WWII soldier: “Well, that couldn’t be me… could it?”, delivered like every parody of The Twilight Zone you’ve ever seen. Hilarious.

Then there’s the infamous (amongst my friends, anyway) line from Susie: “Weevils and bollocks and shit.” Oh my! This is only the second time I’ve ever seen it, but I remember it as clear as day. As laughable as it is, I now realise that Susie’s speech about how there must be beautiful things out there, but all you ever get with Torchwood is all the shit stuff, kind of undermines the entire series, right there in the climax to the first episode. Well done, everyone.

I must admit that the twist of killing someone off after they’ve been billed as a series regular is a stroke of genius. It’s just a shame that Susie’s presence wasn’t the only aspect of the pre-launch hype that proved to be misleading.


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