Homer Numan

Homer Numan

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


BBC sci-fi / crime series 'Torchwood' has just ended it's first series run of 13 episodes and seems ready for an appraisal.
Torchwood is an anagram of Doctor Who and has been marketed as an 'adult spin-off' of the veteran series.
I haven't personally watched Doctor Who since the days of Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker in the 70s, so I had little initial interest in Torchwood as a concept. It just happened to be on TV one night and I thought I'd give it a chance.
I found Episode one to be generally poor. The characters, other than Jack Harkness, seemed weak, the thin plot-line highly implausible and the special effects mediocre. The notion of Torchwood itself seemed to be a straightforward rip-off of 'The Men In Black' without the humour. Ho-hum.

The following week there was nothing else on worth watching so I gave it another go. This time the characters were growing and the plot was moving in an interesting direction. I made a point of watching the rest of the series, something which I very rarely do.

I should point out that Torchwood is far from perfect. Many of the plot-lines are frankly silly and two of the Torchwood team are surplus to acting requirements. The female character Tosh exhibits a range of emotion from highly stressed to panic-stricken while Iantob appears to be continually on the verge of bursting into tears. Both are continually upstaged by single episode characters, including the late Suzie and the female pilot who Owen falls for.
The other three team members take up the slack admirably, with Captain Jack oozing charisma and capability, 'new girl' Gwen exuding a fascinating mixture of vulnerability and toughness and wide-boy Owen strutting around like a member of 'The Hustle' team.

Torchwood was touted as having sex, swearing and violence. There's a lot less swearing than an average chat with Gordon Ramsay, and other than the slightly stomach-turning 'Countrycide' episode, there's little in the way of gore. On the sex side, we do get some results, mainly in the 'sexual orientation' department. All the team appear to have bi-sexual tendencies, which makes for some fun, and Gwen is happy to bed hop between Owen and her live-in boyfriend. None of the sex is any way graphic but it doesn't need to be.
This is essentially British sci-fi. It obviously has a reasonable budget, and several of the characters are highly empathetic, particularly Jack and Gwen. There are moments to make you laugh and others to make you wince and overall it's different enough to keep you interested, if rarely on the edge of your seat.

As with 'Lost', there is enough to keep you coming back for more, but there remains a general feeling of drift rather than tautness of script. The series finale is at times gripping, but spoiled somewhat by the 'King Kong' style appearance of Abbadon, a supposed demon mentioned in the biblical Revelations, a somewhat strange plot move given the decidedly atheistic tone of the production thus far. A character brought back to life maintains that there is 'nothing -- only blackness' and Jack attempts to dissaude a potential suicide with the same argument.

The overall feel of Torchwood is a curious mixture of dark nihilism and wry humour, and the series is entirely character driven. Take Jack, Gwen or Owen out of the equation and the whole thing collapses.
There is however tremendous potential in this concept and we must hope that the script writers can pull things together in series two. I for one am looking forward to it.

1 comment:

Hazel said...

Oh, things are looking a lot snazzier now that you've brightened the place up with some pictures. Aren't you just becoming a whiz at this blogging malarky!