Sunday, July 31, 2011

Torchwood: For Those Late Who Came...

Well my lips are from kissing
Your arid, barren wasteland
Embracing the furnace like a child
Who, in the face of adversity,
I should have showered with kisses!

I extinguished all hope
When I turned on the gas
In my best suit and Callifornian Poppy
In a bizarre ceremony of lust...

I worked! Me! At a factory! With a mute supervisor! Folding packets of danish butter into baking tins at low-low prices and listening to an entire season of AVs on my headphones (mein gott, and Mad Larry thinks RTD stole stuff from him?!?) and thus have not been able to keep up my high-octane TW reviews. Plus, after that last audio I'm one step away from ripping out my harddrive, throwing it into a pentagram of salt, grabbing a crucifix and screaming "DOWN YOU MONGEL, DOWN!!"

So. The New World. Partes Two and Three.


Well, they weren't bad. Not bad at all. Rendition was, as a certain loony unwittingly dubbed it "Welsh on a Plane" and Dead in the Night was an itemized attempt to answer my problems about this Immortal World (yet, again, I have to stress - WHO CARES ABOUT FOOD IF NO ONE CAN STARVE?!?), along with some bizarre guest stars like the Nerdy Guy from Jurassic Park in charge of the CIA (which was as strange as getting Julian Clarey to be the lead in Spooks) and Eurasian Aussie Chick from Dollhouse to try her "Ganger Owl Impression Glare" in an airport carpark.

In both episodes, however, I'm a bit put out by the characterization of our heroes Gwen and Jack. Because, well, I expected it to be a bit more sympathetic (hell, I honestly cried when Jack forgave Owen for shooting him and intellectually I think the Captain should have knee-capped the rapist twat there and then) and this is not what we get. Gwen and Jack are... useless. They are completely useless. They make really obvious, stupid mistakes; they have all the cultural know-how of John Safran in drag in a Mosque; and there isn't a single thing they do bar make things worse.

The only difference is we have a bunch of American characters to point it out clearly and distinctly and emphatically how crap they are. What's more, Rex, Esther and pals are clearly MUCH BETTER AT EVERYTHING. I dunno if this is some American cooproduction thing to make the Yanks look a bit more positive than when RTD normally writes for them, but bar using the expression "Morphic Fields" (thus giving us a bizarre sense this entire story was inspired by the Eighth Doctor and C'Rizz shouting "BLUE TITS!" at each other in Scaredy Cat), all Jack and Gwen have done is sit there and attract British audiences.

I mean, seriously, Rendition has Jack poisoned. As he is now mortal, this is bad. However, he has absolutely no clue how to fix this. And neither does Gwen. And the Americans save the day. Apart from acting like whining useless bitches, Torchwood's survivors offer nothing but amazing bandwidth laptops. Probably the biggest demonstration is in Dead of Night when Rex rightly points out that Jack is an overconfident fuckwit with all the planning skills of Tim Brooke-Tayler having a tea-pot-panic-attack who has managed to get EVERY SINGLE ONE OF HIS TEAM KILLED. Jack's rejoinder? "They were my friends!" As Rex notes, this doesn't really change that, does he?

So, Rex ignores Jack's advice. Ooh, think I, this is where the Yanks realize that our unorthodox and unprofessional loyalty character actually have the edge - like in COE where they very nearly topple the British government with two laptops and some credible bullshit. But... no. True, Rex's plan fails but he automatically set it up so he couldn't possibly be captured or betrayed. All Jack achieves is to say "Yeah, I'm right to be paranoid."

And then he decides to skull-fuck the first good-looking guy at a bar.

(An aside... remember when Jack was supposed to be omnisexual? When his creator noted he automatically assumes anything with a pulse is up for sex? It seems he just stopped being anything other than gay after Chantho died. I mean, I'm all for a gay companion, no offense, but Jack was supposed to be MORE than that. The only concession to his panssexuality is his rather disturbing obsession with Gwen, who also seems to be swigging retcon. You wonder why Jack left, Gwen? You mean, that lengthy speech he gave about having murdered his grandson and having a nervous breakdown didn't happen? WHAT?!?)

Where was I? Oh yes. So, Jack decides to get it on with a random stranger because he's not immortal and can act like he does in Doctor Who for a change. (NOTE: he also gives a huge speech about responsible condom use because he doesn't want to catch AIDs now he's mortal... um, shouldn't his 51st century antibodies sort that out? Hell, LEELA'S antibodies can defeat alien invasions, so surely some VD should be easy to sort out).

Yes, I know I'm dwelling on Jack's graphic sex scenes but it's more than the English version of the episode will.

The point is, Rex also quits the gang to get some sugar - but what's this? He goes to someone IMPORTANT TO THE PLOT! His carnal relations have a point as he finds a certain lady doctor who can help him on both emotional and narratorial levels. Jack is just an excuse for hardcore gay sex on TV, absolutely nothing else. Rex actually seems to have something to do with the ongoing story arc. Jack then responds to this by deciding to randomly threaten a pedophile with a gun because, um, he wants to set up ChildKillers Anonymous, apparently. Meanwhile, Rex and his girl fight the conspiracy.

Jack and Gwen are thus a huge fricken milstone around the neck of this albatross and I'm not surprised at RTD's latest (public) announcement that he is completely and utterly sick of Torchwood and never wants to go near it ever again. No doubt his love and respect for Eve Myles and Barrowman is as strong as ever, but I think he's ready to snap the necks of their characters he clearly hates them so much.

Meanwhile, uh... um... well, that pedophile I mentioned. Why can't he talk properly, I wonder? Is it the failed execution? A stroke? A shorthand for evil? Either way, I refuse to believe a guy so boring and stupid could possibly have been a successful teacher. Is a rapist and murderer the ultimate monster, this story asks? Or is it the PR consultant who doesn't even care about his crimes? Rendition is reasonably sympathetic, showing Oswald Danes as a cursed, pathetic individual with brains but no future. Dead of Night changes its mind halfway through - it was only one step away from Bill Pullman morphing into Anthony Ainley and laughing, "Oh my dear Captain, you HAVE been naive!" on the black and white villainy scale. Mind you, that would have been a bit better as a cliffhanger. OK, I might buy Danes becoming a cult leader but... in less than three days?


I don't have much to add. The Souless are creepy and more effective than the Silence. Do the chemical companies have a TARDIS or was Jack just taking the piss? Why do I get the feeling PR Lady would be the first choice for an American recasting of Amy Pond? Why hasn't anyone called for the Doctor? Why is Gwen so utterly stupid she can't understand the subtleties of transatlantic translation of "chips" and "pants" AREN'T A FUCKING PRIORITY AT THE MOMENT?!? And why wasn't Rendition given an onscreen title?

So. Yeah. Ideally, I hope that next year Rex and his pals get their own show and we never have to see Gwen again and Jack is only in that epic party episode Steven Moffat has promised us, chatting up River Song and Jenny simultaneously. Oh yeah, that would be awesome...

I'll try to listen to the other two audio dramas, but my ears still bleed...

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