Thursday, 18 February 2010

Torchwood: Day One

“He just…”

“Came and went?”

It’s the second episode, so we get our first sight of the regular introductory spiel we’ll be seeing for the rest of the season. It is just the DVD, or is the sound really poor for this bit?

This is the first script from Chris Chibnall, and I’ll do my best to try and approach this as though I hadn’t seen anything else written by him, which is not going to be easy. It’s not a bad script, although there’s an obvious drop in quality from last episode’s RTD masterclass. And it’s a comparison it’s hard to avoid making; again we see everything from Gwen’s point of view, and again we’re introduced to Torchwood, this time in a different context.

The alien escaping is all Gwen’s fault, of course, but the script is quite right to fully acknowledge this while firmly refusing to dwell on it. It’s a good introduction to Torchwood’s actual working methods, a good proper introduction to the full team, and a good story for Gwen. We even get our first inkling of Tosh’s feelings for Owen. Unfortunately, though, the nature of the alien threat- death by shagging- is very, very silly and a clear example of making something post-watershed for the sheer hell of it. Still, at least there’s a fair bit of successful humour in the way it’s done. I love the facial expressions from the bouncer.

There’s a lot of CCTV in this story, which is very, very British, but it’s good to get an early look at the team using their investigative skills. It’s quite clever how Gwen’s police skills start off being derided but their usefulness becomes gradually more obvious.

The alien tells Gwen that it’s not here for conquest but for “The best hit there is”- bit of foreshadowing there. And then we get the girl on girl action, and the most ridiculous part of the episode- everyone’s reaction to it. Gwen could be in immense danger here; the team’s attitude is shockingly unprofessional and a terrible misjudgement by Chibnall.

The Chinese takeaway scene is great, especially as we haven’t really had a character scene involving the whole team in a relaxed situation. It’s quite a revelation that, as soon as Jack leaves the room, everyone reveals that not only do they know hardly anything about the mysterious Jack but they expect Gwen to know more than they do.

The creature’s escape gives us another script problem, though; why on Earth is Owen not subjected to death by shagging? Otherwise it’s a fine ending, though, with lots of nice character stuff for Gwen in particular, and we get teased a bit about this mysterious hand in a jar, clearly something very important to Jack…

The plot’s quite well done, there’s some good character stuff and some good dialogue, but the central premise is very silly indeed and there are a couple of worrying misjudgements with the script. Not as bad as I was expecting but no more than a 3/5.

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