Torchwood: Dead or Revived?
Johnny Candon looks back over the Stateside-friendly Torchwood. It's an anagram of Doctor Who, dontyouknow, etc.
First things first. In a world where nobody can die anymore, it's incredibly cruel of Gwen to inflict that story about her Dad being accused of stealing money. It's not like you could even be bored to death by it now! Mean Gwen. Just mean.
On paper, the only thing that should make me feel any affection for Torchwood is the fact that it's a spin-off of Doctor Who (the greatest TV show in the history of the universe). From its first ever, quite po-faced episode with swearing in it to let you know it was dark and sophisticated (coming across like a sixth former who is allowed to call his teachers by their first name and can get away with mild profanity "Morning Sir, I mean Neil. This weather eh? When's this shitting rain going to bitch stop, eh?! The fat fuck!"), it sometimes felt like Scooby-Doo with shagging, but 50 times as mad.
It pretty much stayed that way all the way up to its third series, the sublime Children of Earth, the series' undoubted high point, which deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Quatermass. Tightly plotted, brilliantly acted and with plot twists so heart wrenching and brave that I barely drew breath during its closing ten minutes. It's what turned me from someone who watched Torchwood out of a strange sort of fanboy duty, into a fan.
I doubt Miracle Day would have been commissioned if it weren't for Children of Earth. It set the template for what was to come - good, intelligent science fiction, with a dash of mad thrown in.
Which brings us to now – Miracle Day: Episode 10. I'm pleased to say that while we've had a brilliant sci-fi premise (no one on Earth dies anymore), the big dash of mental has been present and correct throughout. This is why at the opening of this episode, we find our heroes standing in front of a giant underground fanny, discussing the possibility of it being something from a Silurian legend, while a paedophile with a bomb looks on.
There were a LOT of loose ends to be tied up in this episode and in that respect it failed. The reason for the miracle was that there wasn't really a reason at all except that two big earth vaginas were being kind. OK... It's an extremely unsatisfying answer for an audience trying to second guess the plot and work out the mystery for themselves (not me though, I guessed halfway through episode one it was fannies).
For a series that had ten installments to establish the new team members and have us rooting for them, well, it half succeeded. There was a real sense of the new TW team coming together over the last two chapters. Rex and Esther getting what being part of Torchwood was all about.
But as far as caring for them as people? When Esther is murdered I just didn't feel the same sense of loss as Ianto, Owen , Tosh or even Vera. If you'd swapped Vera for Esther I'd have felt Rex's pain more. There was a believable connection there that made Vera's death affecting, but Esther felt slightly one-note; the girl next door. But that's no reflection on Alexa Havin's performance. She was excellent throughout it was just a case of her having to work with what she was given.
Speaking of excellent performances, special mention has to go to Bill Pullman for making Oswald Danes, the unspeakably lizard like, wet lipped horror that he was. I was initially unsure about Danes as a character. The subject of paedophilia (I'm going to sound like a Daily Mail reader now) is something I was unsure could be handled properly in a show like Torchwood.
But credit to Pullman and the writers alike - they made him the monster he was. After a bit of below the naval gazing at the Shanghai front bottom, he was driven mad(der) and gave us all a nice big explosion. Not an explosion big enough to obliterate the loose ends left dangling, though.
While it was brilliant to see the fantastic creation that is Jilly Kitzinger still breathing, it jarred slightly that the Families are just moving on to "Plan B". We still know next to nothing about them. Surely they'll turn out to be something more interesting than just another secret cabal/the twelve who rule/guys behind the guy's cliché if the show returns? Are there two more giant twats just waiting to be used? Nick Griffin and Rupert Murdoch's agents must be just waiting for the phones to ring.
I imagine, by the end of this series, some die-hard fans will have sworn off it for good, while it will hopefully have picked up just as many if not more new ones, benefitting from broadcasting on Starz in the US.
The ending had a ring of "Look, if this gets recommissioned, then we'll think of something, OK?" The Blood Line posed as many questions as it answered. To be honest I hope they are. Even if it is "It was all done by a big pair of tits on the moon" then that's fine by me. I'd rather have Torchwood on TV than not. It's mad, inventive, infuriating and silly, but, most importantly, fun.
Not that different from its dear old Dad then.
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