5 December 2018: It Takes You Away review added.
26 November 2018: The Witchfinders review added.
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OK, so the setupís out the way. This is where Torchwood starts to show what itís actually like. And itís actually like a steaming pile of compost.
We could do a bunch of jokes here about how Day Oneís a load of cock, how they didnít manage to pull it off, etc. But frankly, Day Oneís obvious enough for both of us.
You see, itís about this alien. And it makes this girl have.. you knowÖ sex! Giggle! And it feeds off orgasmic energy! Ooh missus! And then there are two girls snogging! Snigger!
Shoot us now.
This ainít adult SF. Adolescent SF is closer to the mark. Whatís worse, itís thuddingly unoriginal. Who hasnít done the sex-crazed alien plot?
Of course, itís not just titillation. No, no. The scene with Carys staggering up the street looking at the sexy ads, not to mention the alienís diminishing returns with every sexual act, are clearly meant to make some Big Important Point about Our Obsession With Sex As A Society. Well, bollocks. You couldnít find pertinent social comment in here with three sociologists and a supertrouper.
Whatís more, the plotís crammed with stupidity. Why, when the alienís looking for sex, does it go after sperm donors? Isnít the very point of sperm donation that it skips the sex bit? Also, why is the alien only interested in orgasmic energy produced from sex with a man? For a series falling over itself to flash its gay and bisexual credentials, thatís seriously jarring. How come, when said man presents himself in the form of Owen, is the alien only interested in his swipecard? (We wouldnít have sex with him either, but still.) And how come Owen, whoís seen a man dusted before his very eyes, is still gagging to get into Carysís pants?
The rest of the episodeís about character development, and unfortunately thatís also taken a nosedive. Although in Everything Changes Gwen plays the bog-standard investigative newcomer, there was enough personality injected into the part to rescue it from clichť. Here, though, sheís all clichť. Sheís clearly been pigeonholed as the sensitive one with heart. And how do they show that? By dragging out the dustiest tropes in the book: plastering baby photos everywhere to remind the jaded Jack that Carys is A Real Person and nobly imploring the alien to take her body instead of Carysís.
Jack, naturally, is entranced by Gwenís simple goodness: you can practically see the hardened carapace of cynicism getting squishier by the minute. From the early excruciating line ďFrom where Iím standing, all the right curves in all the right placesĒ to the ďYouíre brilliantÖ.Are you always this awkward?Ē conversation (which was clearly mean to be crackling with sexual tension yet couldnít actually raise the feeblest of flickers), they couldnít be throwing in the sexual tension more obviously if theyíd written in a freak earthquake to fling them into each otherís arms. Poor old Gwenís partner has clearly got the skids under him. All of which might be OK if it werenít signalled as if by semaphore.
And the other characters? The Torchwood lot donít get any character development at all: Ianto doesnít get enough lines for us to figure out who he is, Owen is still a complete arse and Toshiko is still a personality-free zone. As for Carys, other than her revenge on her married boyfriend we donít see enough of her to see her as a person. Even the alienís just an energy-hungry blank space.
Clichťd characters, smack-you-over-the-head character development, wildly stupid plot garnished with teenage sniggering. Itís not looking good.
UPPING THE STAKES
After the Buffy/Angel steal in Everything Changes, here we get another homage: the guys getting dusted.
SPRING SALE AT DIXONS
How come the CCTV has sound? And is in colour?
YOU CANíT DO THAT
Gwenís constant outrage at Torchwoodís operating practices is already seriously dull. We know itís her job as card-carrying Nice Person, but please, isnít it time she got with the programme?
TAKE MY HAND
The hand thing was reasonably subtle last week, but here Jack makes a big song and dance about it before ending up goopily mooning over the twitching hand. Sorry, but thatís just weird.