Friday, 22 February 2008

Truly We Have Experienced A Miracle

Be warned, for a little while this blog will be operating in an image-lite mode due to the catastrophic terminal malfunction of our hard drive, which has broken our hearts. So iPhone is our only link to the Internet, which has made us so grateful to Apple that today has featured way more speculation about buying an iMac than we ever thought we'd do. However, as great as the iPhone is, it's a pain in the ass to use it for editing posts, so apologies if this looks like an unfortunate Scrabble accident.

However, I want to talk briefly about this week's episode of Torchwood, or should I say last week's episode if Lily Allen And Her Dwindling Supply Of Friends didn't put you off watching BBC Three forever. It featured the return of MARTHA JONES, who was a big part of why the third season of Doctor Who was so wonderful. We were worried that appearing on this show would ensuckenise her, just like what happened to Jack. As ever there were some regrettable choices. A sciencey montage scene was straight out of CSI: Miami, with the rapid cuts and annoying music, and there were the usual stupid macho moments and bizarre John Barrowman line readings. All of these things would be causes for celebration, as they would represent the comedy highpoints of the episode, but this week they were a distraction, because...


...this week was good. Not just good by Torchwood standards, but actually just flat-out good. With someone less frivolous behind the camera than Ashley Way, someone who knows how to frame a shot and restrain the actors when they are tempted to go into melodramatic meltdown, it would have really good, but even taking that into account, we were gripped. The script, by Between The Lines creator J.C. Wilsher, featured the strongest concept and most dramatic plot construction of the series so far. It even had sub-plots! And callbacks! Unprecedented. Okay, so there were some terrible lines (Ianto's comments about Jack's penis powers were silly, and Alan Dale should never say the word "funky"), but this was still a huge improvement over previous weeks. Can we make Wilsher the showrunner now, please?

Even more amazing, they totally fixed Owen in his last half hour of screentime. Okay, so it was only a manipulative conceit so that his death at the end of the episode was more emotional, but if it works as well as it did here, it should be praised. Kudos also to Burn Gorman for bringing some charm to the table. Again, nothing more than a device to generate some emotional power at the end, but it worked, because we saw that he could be a likeable character without betraying his dour persona, and then he goes and gets plugged and dies in Tosh's arms. It wasn't Fred and Wesley, but it did the trick. We were gutted that he died, even though we've always hated him. That glimmer of potential made that transparently mechanical plotting work. I really can't believe I've written that and meant it instead of being a snarky jerk.

Maybe Martha helped. Partially because herarrival meant much less time spent dealing with Gwen's usual bullshit, but mostly because Freema Agyeman is a naturally likeable actress whose liveliness transformed the atmosphere of the show for the better. Jack was happy, Gwen had someone to talk about sex with (yeah, screw you, Tosh, you are the anti-gossip), and poor Owen finally made a friend. It doesn't bode well for when she leaves the show; everything could revert to normal sucky levels. The next episode might be a Meat-level debacle for all we know. I hope not. Not just because it was engaging for once, but because Martha might get back to her parent show unscathed. It's more than I had hoped for. Here's the highest praise I can give it; if we had a working laptop that didn't explode in our faces, we would be watching that next episode on iPlayer right now.

Still don't see the point of Tosh or Ianto and his ubiquitous iantaser, though.

1 comment:

McCy said...

*bounces up and down* Buy a Mac, buy a Mac! They're pretty and lovely, and all that is good in the world!

Okay, I'll stop being 'that' annoying Mac person. Hope your computer woes are sorted soon.