Jack’s On Film

Torchwood From Out of the Rain

If there was one writer who you expected to deliver the goods when you first heard their name mentioned on the writing list for the second series of Torchwood, it would have been Peter J Hammond. After all this was the man who created and wrote the peerless Sapphire and Steel and wrote some the best episode of Ace of Wands (not that I can really comment on that, having never seen Ace of Wands) and after his episode of the first series of Torchwood high hopes were held for this episode, especially when rumours were that he was to revisit one of the more successful Sapphire and Steel stories.

Do you remember the episodes of Sapphire and Steel where at the end this young woman was told that she would never be able to have another photograph taken ever and that she had to destroy all of the photographs that she had? Well this episode of Torchwood is a little bit like that but with film instead. I suppose there isn’t a great deal of difference between photographs and films except for the fact that film captures moving images rather than static images. Otherwise the basic principles are pretty much the same.

I enjoyed this episode and thought it was rather creepy much in the same way that Sapphire and Steel was. The character of the Ghostmaker was an interesting creation and was played with a lot of moustache twirling menace by Julian Bleach who has a very distinctive voice. The other main character to come from the film was the rather strange character of Pearl who didn’t really have a great deal to do but she did come across as quite menacing in her own way.

Like Hammond’s previous episode this one could have also been a rather effective Doctor Who episode, rather than an episode that only Torchwood can do. There has, I think, always been something inherently creepy about travelling shows and the people that inhabit them so it is a good place to see a nice creepy story, which this was, but not in the same way that the Sapphire and Steel one with the photographs was.

In this episode Ianto had quite a bit to do, and his local knowledge also came into play a lot here. Like Ianto, I have always had a thing about old cinemas and often bemoan the fact that there a very few old cinemas left these days that haven’t been turned into either bingo halls, theme pubs or nightclubs. These new multiplex cinemas have nothing on the old ones and often seem very soulless like there is something important missing from them.

It was nice to see yet another glimpse into Jack’s former life before Torchwood and it seems that he almost turned his hand to anything in his long life. He did hint to Ianto that he was there undercover for someone, but he wouldn’t say whom, leading to lots and lots of rumours and supposition about who Jack might have been working for in those days.

Of course there are lot of hints about Jack’s past that have never been followed up so there is no reason to assume that this one will be followed up any time soon, just like the fact that Jack had been married before.

The ending where it was said that as long as there are still pieces of film about then the night travellers are never truly dead, and Jack hearing the old fashioned travelling show music (something else that gives me the creeps), was not quite as effective as the ending of Blink, where it implied that every statue you see around might be a weeping angel, but it still worked in a rather less scary fashion. I quite like to think that all of these Doctor Who episodes that are lost might well have that footage of a travelling show running through it now and wouldn’t that really scare the shit out of some fans?

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2 thoughts on “Jack’s On Film

  1. WHAT?! This episode was dull, it went nowhere and the resolution was pulled out of Jack’s… hat?
    I kept wishing, for the full 50 mins that the next scene would be better than the last, that there’d be a payoff to all this drivel but no. Everyone stood around doing NOTHING, right up to the finale which looked more like a tableau than a piece of moving film. Ironic, really, given what the episode was about.
    There was one moment, where I sat up and paid attention. The last breath, left in the flask. At last! I thought, Owen’s get out of jail free card. But no.

    It was another of those stories that had a thousand trailing lines of plot that just sort of fell down.
    For instance:
    The night-people wanted an audience, so why didn’t they ever perform during the episode?
    They were “caught” on film, but free to wander about?
    The woman needed water… and that’s about it for that plot bit. Nothing done with the idea.
    It felt like someone had, once again, had a billion brilliant ideas and therefore wasn’t focussed on putting them together. It felt like we’d gone back in time a season or been forced to sit through another fan video which said: “I like old cinemas. Surely that’s enough of a hook to create 50 mins of entertainment?”

  2. Hi J,

    Thanks for the comment. You are welcome to come and post reviews on this blog if you fancy. Just email me if you would like to comment on here. The more the merrier!

    The episode was bit slow, I will admit, but I didn’t think it was that bad. I’ve seen worse episodes 😉

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