Torchwood: The Ghost Machine

I have to say that I really liked The Ghost Machine. I thought it was very dark and quite spooky. There were touches of humour in this episode but the general mood of the episode was dark. There were some quite adult themes in the episode with mentions of murder and rape and suicide, and the swearing was noticeable by its absence (well I certainly didn’t notice any). I think it was more noticed in the first episode because it was the first time that there had ever been swearing in anything Doctor Who related. By this third episode I think that people have just got used to the fact that occasionally people do swear and are less bothered by it.

The main characters had all settled down by this episode and at the start of the episode it seemed that Gwen was now fully a part of the Torchwood team, and that it had been a while since Day One. Just watch her with Owen for proof that she seems more settled in her role within the team, she was sharing a joke with him and also seemed genuinely concerned after he had witnessed his flashback. Even her boyfriend now seemed resigned to the fact that she was spending less and less time at home. Another reason for assuming this is set some time after the events in Day One.

Burn Gorman as Owen was pretty good in the episode and he actually had quite an interesting part in the episode as he really took it personally after he had witnessed what would end in a rape and murder. He was less jack-the-lad and cocky in this episode and as such came across a lot better than he had in the previous two episodes (which after having read what some people were calling his character in the forums can only be a good thing).

A shame the same cannot be said for Tosh and Ianto. To Gareth David-Lloyd’s credit his role in this episode amounted to little more than serving coffee and a blink or you’ll miss it appearance at the end of the episode. The problem with Tosh’s character is that they really don’t know as yet what to do with her. She is basically the technical support and spends most of her time in front of computers and does very little else. Having said that that is her role in the outfit so she is only doing her job but I would like to see her do more. I am confident that later on in the series her character will be seen away from a computer doing something a little more exciting.

Eve Myles was great as Gwen in this episode. She is such a strong character and is getting stronger week by week. I think it helps that out of all of the main characters she is the one we can identify with and that she has a life outside and friends apart from the other regular characters. Her boyfriend serves very little purpose apart from showing the audience that Gwen is one of them and is not a character that they cannot recognise. The scenes between them just being an average couple are not at all relevant to the plot but they are nice little scenes that show us how human and how real she is. And is it me or does that gap in her teeth make her even more appealing?

Jack is getting more and more like the Doctor each week and it is know revealed that he no longer needs to sleep. Barrowman is as commanding as ever as Jack here and the scene between him and Gwen in the target range was quite amusing as the ever so macho and totally gay John Barrowman can make a woman turn to mush just by standing behind them. My girlfriend says that she knows exactly how Gwen would feel in that particular scene.

I do feel that the title The Ghost Machine is a bit of a misnomer as there weren’t any actual ghosts in it, rather they were memories of previous events amplified by the alien machinery. Memory Machine sounds like a really crap title so I can understand why they used the term ghosts instead. I did wonder why Gwen witnessed a totally different event to that of Owen and that of Bernie because after Gwen went to visit the old man who she had seen in her vision it wasn’t ever mentioned again. I guess it added some colour to the episode though.

The same can be said for Gwen’s use of the device to remember happy times with her boyfriend when she came home to an empty flat. Again it was nice little scene that really made her appreciate what she has at home and I am pretty sure that they made up that night after their little tiff earlier in the episode. They do say the making up afterwards is the best thing about having an argument.

I must admit that is was a bit of a shock to see Gareth Thomas playing a grumpy old man here, as I just didn’t think he looked that old. I saw him at a convention, oh about ten years ago now and he was looking quite old then but I wasn’t quite prepared by how old he actually does look now. It was also a surprise to hear him speak with a Welsh accent. It was the first time I had heard him speak in his native accent. Having said that I felt the same seeing Griff Rhys Jones in Mine All Mine.

I thought the story was very well written and directed (I like the urgency of the opening chase sequence through the streets of Cardiff as well as the chase scene between Owen and the hoodie wearing Bernie; there was also some nice effects during the hallucinations caused by the machine) and am really looking forward to Raynor’s two parter next year. The Ghost Machine was a nice little character piece with a twist in the ending (albeit one that could be worked out a little earlier than when it happened unlike in the opening episode.).

Next weeks episode looks really good too!

Originally posted on Oct 31, 2006