Torchwood: Random Shoes
I’m going to sound like a broken record again I’m afraid, but what the hell, I loved Sunday’s episode of Torchwood. True it was very similar to Love & Monsters (which I also loved, and having watched it again on Sunday I have to say that it was the best written, directed and acted episode of the second series aside The Girl in the Fireplace) but that isn’t a bad thing. If you are going to rip something off then you should at least rip-off something good, that’s what I say.
True the bit about somebody dying and persisting on hanging around afterwards is hardly original either (it wasn’t original when they made Randall & Hopkirk nearly forty years ago now) but what is original nowadays? At the end of the day I thoroughly enjoyed the episode, and that is good enough for me.
One of the things I really like about Torchwood is how it is always different and each episode is nothing like the previous episode. Surely that can only be a good thing because if it was the same each episode wouldn’t it get rather boring and stale.
After all isn’t that the reason why we all love Doctor Who so much because each episode and story is different from the previous one? Or is only Doctor Who that is allowed to do that and everything else just a pallid imitation compared to the brilliance that is Doctor Who? Personally I think the latter but then again what do I know? I’m the odd bloke who likes Torchwood/the heretic who doesn’t think David Tennant is the best Doctor ever (*delete where applicable).
It could be said that while this episode is in a similar vein to Love & Monsters this episode did actually have one of the regular characters involved in the plot from beginning to end (unlike L&M), but sidelined the rest. I didn’t even miss Jack, Ianto, Owen or Tosh in the episode at all to be honest.
This was a good episode for Eve Myles who really shone is this episode as the heart of Torchwood and the only one who seemed to care about what had happened to Eugene. I suppose it did seem a bit odd that Torchwood got involved in something that was just a straightforward hit and run. I know that Eugene was a Torchwood chaser so that was where the link was but at first that did seem to jar a little, but only for a little while, as in the end it didn’t really matter. I never thought that Torchwood was meant to be that realistic anyway, the same way in which Doctor Who isn’t meant to be realistic. The characters may be more realistic in Torchwood but the situations certainly aren’t. I mean how can a science-fiction show be realistic anyway?
I thought the alien eye was a nice little touch, as that was the start of the road that led him to Torchwood and to his eventual demise, in part due to the greed of his friends. Quite what the point of the alien eye was in the end though was debatable but it did allow for a nice little subplot where he went and sold it on Ebay.
Paul Chequer who played Eugene was rather good I thought. I have never seen him in anything before but he made a good account of himself in this episode. He was a believable character I would say: a bit of a loner interested in science-fiction and the like, hangs around with a couple of close mates (or so he thought), not very memorable or popular by his peers. Sounds a bit like myself (and quite possible a lot of other Doctor Who fans even if they won’t to it) but like Elton in Love & Monsters, he was just an ordinary guy who just happened to be a little geeky (unlike Elton though), and you genuinely felt empathy for him especially in the scenes in the funeral where hardly anyone turned up, and how he seemed to go unnoticed in his place of work apart from by a handful of people (well not even a handful).
The funeral scene did go on for a little longer than it needed to and perhaps the choice of Danny Boy wasn’t the best of choices, but it was at a funeral so I can forgive that. I didn’t think much of his so called mates. At least one of them actually missed him and felt bad about what they had done after he had died, the other one, from the video shop, didn’t seem to care, all he wanted was the alien eye. I mean who need enemies when you have friends like his?
I thought that Eugene’s infatuation with Gwen was rather sweet and the look on his face at the end when she kissed him was priceless. I mean he didn’t mind being dead after that did he? I mean she was his great, unobtainable love, the one person he could never get, as it were. Gwen certainly seems to be a little bit psychic doesn’t she? I mean when Eugene said out loud that they could phone Gary, Gwen scrolled down to his name on Eugene’s phone.
I doubt that she just picked out that name at random, unless it was just a massive coincidence. Probably not as later on in the car when Gwen went to see Eugene’s father she virtually answered Eugene. Then there is the bit when Gwen in is in her bedroom and Eugene says that he loves here. There was an intimation that she may have heard that comment as well.
This will only add to the rumours that Gwen is indeed a descendant of Gwyneth from The Unquiet Dead and make even more Who fans insist that they have to watch Torchwood, because if they don’t they somehow won’t understand what is going on in the parent series. Quite how that works I am not sure but I am digressing from the episode here.
I did wonder why the episode was called Random Shoes (I thought for a brief moment that the episode was going to be about Gwen going shopping in Cardiff town centre for random shoes), as the original title of Invisible Eugene did seem more relevant to the episode as it played out, but now I like the title, it doesn’t really make sense, but I like it nonetheless.
This episode may have not been to everyone’s taste but I liked it and thought it was a very effective episode and was a nice and different insight into the world of Torchwood. Gwen may have been a little bit blasé about the real world since she had joined Torchwood but when things like this happen to ordinary people it brings her back down to Earth again and she is able to remember what it was like to just be an ordinary person back in the day before she first got involved with Torchwood. She is truly the heart of the organisation and this episode really showcased that side of her character.
Not the best episode of the series so far, but another good example of modern television, Random Shoes was, in my opinion, just as effective as Love & Monsters was at showing a different side to the characters we have known for the past eight weeks.
Originally posted on Dec 12, 2006