Torchwood – wherein I drizzle lightly on the parade
So, I read the BBC article about how Season 2 of Torchwood had pulled together, got into its stride, left the shaky start of season 1 behind and was now utterly brilliant. Perhaps it was that which left me feeling rather blah at the end of Season 2 Episode 1.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Torchwood fan and I thoroughly enjoyed the episode. In Season 1 I had been alternately fascinated and slightly repelled by each of the team, and I was neutral about the series until the two part finale. At which point the whole thing clicked for me. I suddenly understood that these people might be slightly despicable, really astonishingly incompetent, self centred bickering socially maladjusted losers, but in some way they had all become dear to me despite that. I liked their big dysfunctional family, and I was rooting for them to come through, save the world, and get things right for once.
So, what with my newfound enthusiasm and the glowing reports of the BBC, I think I was expecting too much.
I’m afraid the blowfish joke just made me think ‘hold on, little old ladies in Cardiff know all about Torchwood, the government organization so top secret that its operatives routinely use mind control to remove people’s memories? Eh…?’ It’s fair enough that the fish might have done his research, but random passers by at Cardiff bus stops? What’s that about?
I loved – and I mean *loved* the team’s new cohesiveness and ability to work as, well, a team. But really, their competence hasn’t improved, has it? Did they really not think of searching the alien body? They’re rather lucky the triangle wasn’t a bomb, aren’t they? And given their experience of resurrections last series, going out and leaving the fish on the slab wasn’t exactly great form either.
Captain John. Is it just me or is he just one big walking cliché? Kudos to the actor for getting something of a personality in there, but I don’t think it was due to the writing. I found him both obvious and tedious. But I’m willing to believe that with more time he could become interesting – just as I hated Owen at first and am now softening towards him.
But really, Gwen! ‘Keep ahead of me! Keep ahead of me! I’m just going to turn my back on you conveniently here because I’m obviously the sort of cop who gets distracted by shiny things, and you need to be able to ambush me or there won’t be a story.’ Torchwood! Why are you so stupid?!!?
But on the other hand, the interaction between Jack and his team, between the team-mates themselves, between Jack and John, and Jack and Ianto, those were things that deserved every bit of praise.
The Jack/Ianto fills me with squee. I love that Ianto has grown more confident, that he so clearly understands what Jack is like and that he is taking steps to protect himself and to make sure this relationship is at least partially on his terms. Gwen seems to think that Jack is some kind of fairy tale prince. But Ianto knows that he has to be tough to be willing to take on Jack and all his past, his strange ways and his bullshit. I love the way that this has been set up as a relationship which might actually have a chance of working, and it’s been done with such wonderful attention to the characters of both men.
So I’m guessing the praise being heaped on the show is praise for the relationships and the characterization. I can totally agree with that. But the plot? Meh. They believed John even for a moment? Why? They didn’t lock him up and look for the canisters on their own? Why not? Why not just shoot him, cut his wrist off and lob the body in the rift to detonate in peace, rather than going through all that hassle with DNA? They were happy enough to shoot the fish, after all, who was – on the evidence of the show alone – somewhat less of a multiple murderer than John.
I don’t know. I’ll be watching because I love the programme regardless, and because I like the team and I am invested in the Jack/Ianto relationship. And because on a certain level I like comedy blowfish aliens, people running pointlessly around with guns, explosions, snark and any programme in this day and age that dares to deal with elves. I’ll be following it because it has some great ideas even if it doesn’t always follow them through very well.
But on a different level I would like to see a slightly more substantial plot at some point. It’s great TV and the relationships are groundbreaking but, rather as in Dr. Who, the plots are still a bit weak and inclined to pull out a pseudo-magical quasi-scientific deus ex machina at the end. It was that that I was hoping had improved, and it’s that for which I don’t actually see a lot of evidence.