Four episodes in, and I’m already running out of ways to say “it wasn’t terrible, but not much happened”. There’s taking your time to eke a story out, and then there’s dawdling, and it’s hard to keep up with all the tangents that have been introduced. This was the first occasion where we’ve learned anything significant about the two newbies’ lives, but his daddy issues and her sister issues felt like a distraction from the more interesting stuff that you still feel they’re holding back on.
Meanwhile, we’re introduced to the female Nigel Farage, a Tea Party extremist who wants to round the undead up because they’re taking all our jobs and women or something. With another added element of the assassin tracking the team, it seemed like there was too much going on, and that the show was spreading itself too thinly. But then a different assassin takes fascist lady’s car to the crushers and forgets to take her out, so that’s one less character to keep track of.
Instead, her story was a means of moving Oswald’s forward, after a brief interval while he weirdly listens to the sound of soda bottles opening. He uses the presence of his right-wing rival to set himself up as a saviour figure for the living dead. In a few short days, this convicted child-murderer has basically become Zombie Christ, and nobody even minds when he scoops up a baby girl for a photo op. At least the scenes in the hospital / internment camp mean that we’re actually being shown the consequences now, rather than just told about them, although the frequent news montages are getting a little tired already.
This series is clearly not sure what it’s trying to do, as all of the extra-curricular bits are playing out slowly like a serial, but the stuff with the Torchwood team themselves is becoming increasingly formulaic. Each week they set up a new base, find themselves a mission, get everything in place and then pull of some sort of heist or espionage action, which inevitably goes tits up. There is effectively a self-contained story per episode, but they never seem to move the bigger story along enough.
Add in the other-worldliness and the whole thing feels like one of those vaguely spooky procedurals that came out in the aftermath of Lost, which is probably because that’s exactly what it is. And it shares the same problem as many of those shows, in that the juicy info we came for is being released frustratingly slowly. We were just about to find out who the secret triangle people are, when Rex comes blundering in and shoots the guy in the throat. Never before in the Who oeuvre (or Whoeuvre, if you will) has a plot moved so slowly, not even in the 60s. Just get on with it.
And as if things couldn’t get any worse, Piers Morgan gets a namecheck. There’s no need for that.