Na'Lon (na_lon) wrote,

Torchwood - some thoughts

The Marquis and I watched the finale of Torchwood yesterday, and I thought it might be about time to put some of my thoughts about the show's first season down in writing.

When Captain Jack appeared in the first season of the New Dr Who, I was very impressed. The character had something about him that appealed to me and intrigued me despite the fact that that 'type' of character doesn't usually have that effect on me. But there were some great moment with Jack throughout which intersected with my usual obsessions. So I was very chuffed when the character was going to be made a big part of Torchwood! Yay! (And all of that is not even mentioning that CJ is very decorative...)

So when I finally got to watch the first episode of TW, I was surprised to be rather disappointed. I like Gwen well enough, but CJ didn't seem quite right, somehow, Suzie being the 'bad girl' felt a bit cliched - she'd struck me as a character with some potential, Owen was just the 'guy with the funny mouth' to me, and Toshiko nowt but an ethnically diverse addition, and Ianto, while also decorative, seemed simply a gender-politically aware version of a secretary. I felt there was no sense of cohesion in the team - they didn't convince me. The thing with the Doctor's hand appealed to me inner Doctor Who appreciator (not really a fan, moi), but was cheesy and - excuse the pun! - a bit heavy-handed as a way of establishing that Jack is Mysterious (TM). In fact, lots of it seemed heavy-handed and in your face, rather than full of those adult themes we'd been promised. Torchwood as Doctor Who for grown-ups? Nah. More like Buffy without the lightness of touch.

I continued to watch. At first dutifully, then looking forward to each new episode, until Wednesday became T-day: watch the episode, then go and read what Parrot Knight had said about it, and perhaps comment. It was nice to find that I didn't have to work quite so hard at finding things I enjoyed about each episode. But I also never had to work hard to find bits I didn't like, or felt were too unsubtle. Like the sex stuff, for example. Most of this felt gratuitous and cheap to me, doing little or nothing to further the plot or development of characters. It seemed to serve an agenda of RTD's rather than anything else.

For me, the highlights of the show were probably Random Shoes and the second to last episode. Random shoes, because it seemed to have an adult message. The penultimate episode, because of the tragic romantic element. But even this was rather mishandled, to my mind - not that I couldn't buy Real Jack falling for TW Jack, not that I didn't think the dance was the most romantic scene of the whole series (topping even that of heart-broken Owen watching Diane leave in her plane) - but please! Do your research if you're going to do that sort of thing. In the war, that dance would not have been allowed to happen so undisturbed in a crowded room! If they'd danced in a private, dark room - my god - it would have been perfect. But the audience seemed hardly to react. They stopped dancing, but it seemed they'd done this in a way as to leave the dancefloor at the disposal of the bride and groom for the first dance at their wedding. Either way, I wonder if TW Jack has inadvertently taken Real Jack's life with that kiss: where could Real Jack turn after that?! How could he face his men? How fight the following day?

As for, um, lowlights... how about the sub-Buffy end of bloody days again finale? Which went on too long after the climax of Jack 'dying'. Again. Twice. Okay, fine, have the all make up and hug and kiss bits. Have the Tardis stuff and the 'right kind of Doctor' stuff, but have some pacing, too! And perhaps a villain with a believable agenda. I just have real trouble buying villains that release nasty CGI-demon things from hellmouths because they want to make the world end. It seems to pointless. Even the annoying cannibals had more of a motivation: people taste yummy. Grrr.

Hm. So. All in all, here's my verdict: Torchwood is good enough for me to want to watch more. But for the moment I am not convinced enough to consider myself a fan. I found things I liked in every episode so far, and things I disliked. What I'd like to see: the team actually working as a team and not just as consisting of a bunch of self-absorbed individuals whose relationships never quite make it into the realm of the believable. For example, don't spring Owen's and Gwen's affair on the audience without allowing them to watch it slowly developing. (That way we might actually buy it as more than a gratuitous sabotaging of Rhys and Gwen's relationship). Or give us an indication about why Tosh is the way she is in more than one somewhat plot-free, lesbian-sex episode. It's weirdly infuriating! All those TW episodes seemed to have either emotional resonance or plot. How about trying to combine both, RTD?!
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