Torchwood: Something Borrowed

And now for something altogether lighter: Torchwood‘s attempt at a Coronation Street comedy wedding, but with more murders and far fewer laughs. You could tell that it was all supposed to be funny, but it seldom managed to actually be funny. The only time I went so far as to laugh was when Jack steamed in and screamed at Nerys Hughes to “get back, you ugly bitch”. I think it was the shock more than anything.

The light-hearted tone did make a nice change, it’s just that this was slightly at the expense of a believable plot. Gwen’s determination to marry Rhys no matter what was nice, but it was there to provide an excuse for a farcical situation to unfold, and it was no more sophisticated than the worst brand of Get Me Hennimore! style sitcom contrivances. I love a good farce, from Fawlty Towers to Friday Night Dinner, but you either have to a beautifully constructed slow escalation, or go the Bottom route and just go balls out – not for the first time, Torchwood attempted to do something in between, and ended up falling short.

Speaking of sitcoms, the shape-shifting alien element obviously reminded me of Red Dwarf‘s various Polymorph-based episodes – there were two of them when this was made, but there’s since been a third. Series XI’s Can of Worms (reviewed by some handsome fellow here) is actually a much closer match than any of its predecessors, as it contains the added element of one of the shape-shifters impregnating one of the crew. Red Dwarf did the comedy better than Torchwood, but Torchwood handled the implications much more sensitively, which is not a sentence I ever expected to write.

Despite my reservations, it was again an enjoyable episode, continuing the now unexpectedly long run of Torchwood episodes that are pretty much alright. It all went a bit Hot Fuzz in the middle, plus, for the record, I was already thinking of The Evil Dead before Jack went and directly referenced it. The sheer chaos into which the wedding descends was ridiculous, but the fun sort of ridiculous that Torchwood is just about getting away with this time around.

But the old problems are still there, and so often I come away from the episode with nagging thoughts about things that didn’t quite work. As we see the reception in full swing, I can’t help but wonder why everyone looks so happy after they’ve all seen shape-shifting aliens shot to pieces, Gwen’s mysterious pregnancy mysteriously disappearing, and one of the guests being murdered and eaten.

OK, they were all retconned afterwards, but a) that doesn’t explain their behaviour before they were drugged, and b) it opens up problems of its own. What do they remember, if anything? It’s obviously lovely that Gwen and Rhys got married after all, but it’s not nice for them that none of their friends and family will remember a damn thing about their wedding day.

Also, fuck off with the weird sexual tension between Gwen and Jack – it’s bad enough when it’s on a mission or at the firing range, but on the dance floor at her fucking wedding reception? Stop being weird with literally all of your employees, Jack.


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