Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)


With the latest season of Doctor Who due to start on Prime this Sunday, tonight I faced the inevitable challenge of sitting down to start watching "adult" spin-off series Torchwood.

After the main show’s disastrous dumbing-down for today’s audiences (trumpeted in the rest of today’s dumb media as ‘quality’), it was inevitable that I had a checklist of blunders that I was expecting.

Unfortunately, in this opening episode, despite the awesome first scene (brilliant!), most of those blunderboxes then got ticked...

Their hideout is a tip, like the current TARDIS.

Lots of swearing to try and look tough, lots of kissing (including boys on boys) to try and look cool, and as usual the central character is a supposedly ‘tough’ girl swept off her feet.

And zombies. On present-day Earth.

First up, yes, yet again it was written by the same burnt-out writer as usual, however this spin-off is his idea, so who am I to complain about that? Ah, no, wait a minute, it’s not his idea, it’s a reworking of the original series' U.N.I.T. It even has an awkward throwaway line to acknowledge this duplication in the Doctor Who world.

No, wait, this is Buffy. We have a race of neck-biting zombies on present-day Earth, a public taking rationalisation to impossible extremes, and a space-time rift from which all manner of strange creatures are emerging. Hellmouth anyone?

And we’ll continue to ignore the naming of the lead character after Pirates Of The Caribbean's “Captain Jack.”

The standard, generic set-up – super secret organisation investigates aliens on Earth – is still a good one though, (albeit done to death in these post-X Files days) but I really wish they would stop spoon-feeding us all this stuff like it's the first time we've heard of it. The old show never did that, it had some respect.

Another presumption I came with was that it would follow the same plot-structure as his other show-openers – Rose and Invasion Of The Bane – and this it positively excelled at.

It focuses on a girl – this time called Gwen as opposed to Rose or Maria - who we’re told is tough, but soon turns out to be less so.

She briefly meets a mysterious stranger, who vanishes, so she looks him up on computers, and finds he exists on records from many years ago. He shows up again, and tries to make her forget him. She won't. He takes her into the TARDIS/upstairs/the hub, explains the show’s setup and together they defeat the villain, following which she decides to help him regularly.

She also has an un-heroic boyfriend, who she doesn’t tell about what she discovers. The ‘Doctor’ character can even regenerate.

It's a definitive example of that old adage that if you write to a formula, then of course you'll produce something formulaic.

I sincerely hope they’ve given the rest of the series to fresh writers like the old show thrived on.

Please skip reading this section.

It's only my own formulaic list of plot-holes...

There’s no explanation for how or why Captain Jack travelled back in time 50,000 years after the end of The Parting Of The Ways, or how he knew from what point in his life he became indestructable, (surely he’d assume he’d been born that way) or how and why he came to be in charge of Torchwood, or how or why Torchwood operates from such a dump with only half-a-dozen people, or how or why they’re top secret again, or who owns / funds them (it used to be the crown, but not now apparently), or how Suzie didn’t already know of Jack’s invulnerability, or of why this Torchwood is completely different to the one we saw in The Army Of Ghosts, but... at least they’ve told us why Jack was pointlessly forced-into 5 episodes of Doctor Who with nothing to do in 2005.

But hey - it's episode 1, so let's go easy on all this. :)

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2 comment(s):

At 5:49 am, Blogger KlownKrusty said...

Do all the neck-biting zombies have a "BBC THREE Brand New" sign over their right eye like that? If so, they really do suck.

At 8:06 am, Blogger Steve Goble said...

It always comes back to DOGs with you, doesn't it?


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