The Miserable Life

Torchwood: A Day in the Death

Yet another Owencentric episode, another episode where Owen is moping around and unhappy with his lot. Although to be fair since he is dead, but not actually dead; alive yet not alive, it is no wonder he is a bit pissed off with everything and everybody.

I mean he now can’t die but unlike Jack it seems he also cannot do any of thing things that would count to him as being alive such as eating and drinking etc. He can watch daytime TV but that isn’t really the same is it? I suppose he could spend his days and nights playing games of his ps3 or X-Box or watching every series of 24 as he doesn’t need to sleep either.

Luckily by the end of episode he had found absolution of sorts by persuading a woman that it was not worth jumping to her death from the top of a building when there was the slightest, smidegeon of a chance that things could get better and not be as bleak and dark as it could be.

That was the one moment of the episode that suggested that things might not be as bad as you think they are, in a rather bleak episode written by first-time television writer Joseph Lidster. I mean you thought the last episode was grim and bit depressing but that had nothing on this episode.

I do begin to wonder why Freema bothered to get out of bed to make this episode as she had so little to do you didn’t really notice that she was there till the end of the episode when she had her nice farewell scene and promised that she may come back to Torchwood one day (read that as will return in the 3rd series probably). She had even less to do than she did in the previous episode and she was hardly in that one either.

I do wonder why they bothered having her in three episodes when there was only one that would feature her character in the main. She was in the background like Tosh normally is for the previous two episodes. I mean even Tosh had more to do in this episode and that is saying something!

There was some light relief in the episode courtesy of sitcom legend Richard Briers trying to come on to Tosh (I mean who wouldn’t?) and the knowledge that Owen really hates Tin Tin. Come to think about I always thought there was something funny about Tin Tin as well. It did seem a little wasted to get Richard Briers in and to have him play such a small part but he was very good in this small role as eccentric millionaire and collector of alien ephemera Henry Parker.

I think it would have been a nice touch if we had seen a picture of his wife in the house somewhere and it being someone like Penelope Keith or one of his many sitcom wives from over the years. That would have been quite amusing in the same way that they used a publicity picture of Briers from the Good Life, to show a younger Henry Parker, was. There was also the sight of Owen getting used to using the coffee machine which was also quite amusing!

The sub plot of Owen trying to talk a woman out of throwing herself of a building on her wedding anniversary after her marriage ended just as it had started with the death of her husband after mere hours of marriage, was a nice little extra layer to the episode but did seem to be a bit more important that what I assume was the main plot involving the Richard Briers character and the energy spike that was emanating from his property. Or perhaps it was meant to be the other way around. I am not too sure.

It was nice that it turned out to be nothing more dangerous than a reply to the messages sent from NASA in the seventies but I do wonder what it actually did to Owen and all we got in the way of an explanation was that it sang to him. Perhaps that is explanation enough.

A Day in the Death is probably the weakest episode of the series so far, and is not one that would benefit from repeated viewings, and it ended the Martha trilogy of episodes with a whimper rather than a bang, but it is still better than most of the stuff on TV today.

Death Becomes Him

Torchwood: Dead Man Walking

I suppose that something like this was always going to happen from the moment at the end of They Keep Killing Susie when Ianto quipped that gloves usually come in pairs that at some point the other risen mitten would find its way to Torchwood and be used again. I am not sure if I thought they would use it in quite the way that they did.

You would have thought that after what happened to Susie when they tried that that they would think twice before meddling with dark arts like that but having said that would they have needed to do so if Owen hadn’t been shot by Jim Robinson in the previous episode? I would have thought not and the risen mitten would have remained in that church with the weevils for a little bit longer until Torchwood decided to go looking for it, which may never have happened.

And it wasn’t as though any member of Torchwood crew decided to stop Jack from bringing Owen back to life again even when they were aware of what had happened the first time round. In particular Tosh who has now admitted her feelings for Owen and Gwen who had a thing with Owen during the first series.

It has to be said though that why does it take Owen to become a walking, talking bag of flesh before he gets another episode all to himself. The episode was basically about Owen and what might have happened to him after being bought back to life and how he was coping with not being able to do the things that most of us take for granted which seems to be drinking, farting and shagging according to Owen, but surely there is more to life than just those three things?

Despite the rather depressing mood of the episode there were some funny moments mixed in with the despair and all round apathy of the episode such as the moment when Owen has to expel several pints of lager from his stomach due to the fact of him no longer having a working digestive system and the bit when that woman who appeared to be on a hen night virtually manhandled Owen and was a bit disappointed when he didn’t respond. Well I suppose being dead was a good enough excuse but it would still smart!

There were some good effects in this episode most notably the representation of the grim reaper as a skeleton who walks around in a huge puff of smoke, well it makes a difference from the usual depiction of a bloke in a cowl carrying a scythe doesn’t it? Burn Gorman manages to look even uglier than usual when he was possessed by whatever the hell it was that was possessing him, because we were never actually sure what it was that had taken him over and was keeping him unalive were we. Was it actually death or was is some other alien force that needed death. I am not sure and I am not sure if we will ever truly find out, something’s are just best left unexplained.

Martha didn’t really have a great deal to do in this episode except start the autopsy on Owen at the start of the episode before Jack decides to go an resurrect him and kick start the plot of the episode which might otherwise have been loads of people sitting around moping about the death of Owen. Oh yes she also had to fend of the risen mitten and then be aged greatly allowing them to use a similar make up job they used of Tennant in the final two episodes of series three.

Just like then there was a plot maguffiny thingie that allowed Martha to be returned to her normal state at the end of the episode and you would have thought that might have been Martha’s cue to leave Torchwood but no she seems to be in next weeks episode for even more punishment. I mean what in the hell can they do to her in the next episode that is worse than what happened to her in this episode and the fact that she nearly died in Reset?

This episode is not really designed to be viewed on its own as it the middle episode of a trilogy and as a result will only be truly appreciated when you see the final episode of the trilogy next week. Not the best of Torchwood episodes, but still great television

Danger Jim Robinson!


Torchwood: Reset

Martha Jones is back but this is not the same Martha Jones who we last saw leaving the TARDIS at the end of Last of the Timelords, this is a Martha who is now a fully qualified Doctor and is also a medical officer for U.N.I.T. Very little of this back story is not expanded upon but I suspect that may be something to do with the appearance of Martha in the fourth series of Doctor and this may well be set after the events of The Sontaran Stratagem and that will all come to light in that story which is probably what will happen. It was nice to hear Martha’s theme again in this episode also.

Once again they didn’t assume that you had seen Doctor Who series 3 and they introduced Martha with the minimum of fuss and vague references to her past with Jack. Of course for those of us that watch both, there were some nice references to the final three episodes of the last series of Doctor Who.

Reset may even be after the series four finale, or it may not be, as since the end of series 3 she has finished her exams and got herself a reputation good enough to be courted by U.N.I.T. so it seems to me that it may have been quite a while after the events of LOTL. She certainly hasn’t seen Jack since then so it would seem unlikely that this was set after the series 4 finale which we know Martha appears in, as might Captain Jack.

It still stands, however, that this could be after the event of the first three episodes of series 4 that Martha appears in but that is an argument for later. Martha fits into the Torchwood team surprisingly well and by the mid point of the episode one the rest of team has got over Jack bringing someone else from his mysterious past to meet them it is almost as if she has always been part of the team.

It was nice that she seemed to have got over her massive crush on the Doctor and I hope that when she sees him again she doesn’t revert to her previous character trait as this is a new improved Martha who probably fits in better in Torchwood than she probably will in the fourth series of Doctor Who.

It was mainly Tosh and Gwen who were giving Martha bitchy stares when she first appeared with Owen probably thinking ‘ding dong’. Gwen seemed to warm more to Martha when she found out that she hadn’t been sleeping with Jack but when Martha asked her if she and Jack were ‘together’ in that sense methinks she doth protest a little too much. If they haven’t already then they sure want too. It’s Rhys I feel sorry for!

The little subplot starting earlier on this series finally comes to a head as Tosh actually asks Owen out on a date and he actually accepts. Go Tosh! There is a definite attraction between them on both sides but only Tosh actually admits to it, and Owen being the kind of bloke he is, just can’t bring himself to admit and would rather flirt with anyone in a skirt rather than admit his true feelings that he is actually in love with his beautiful Asian colleague. Tosh did seem to be a little jealous of the attention that Owen was paying Martha but once they had agreed to go out on a date then she changed her tune pretty quick.

Jim Robinson, sorry, Alan Dale was very good as the amoral Professor Aaron Copley and it is still unusual to hear him speaking in an American accent rather than his native Kiwi accent that we were used to in Neighbours and Young Doctors. To me, however, no matter how many baddies he plays in American television series’, or Romulan’s in Star Trek films, he will always be Jim Robinson from Neighbours to me, the only man who had an entire episode for his death scene!

I had already read a rumour on a Torchwood website that said that Owen would effectively die at the end of Reset, but even I was shocked when Jim Robinson shot him at the end of the episode. It was certainly an effective cliffhanger and it worked much better that when Suzie was killed at the end of Everything Changes because we had invested more time in the character of Owen. We might not have actually liked him, and wondered what in the hell Tosh saw in him, but it was still shocking to see a character that we had come to know quite well be shot and killed like that.

It was also very frustrating that the moment Tosh had managed to get Owen to agree to go out on a date with her, that he goes and gets himself shot and killed. You have to feel for Toshiko don’t you. Of course this is par for the course for any horror films that you care to mention when two characters decide to get together you just know what one of them will end up dead, but that totally passed me by until a few days ago, when it seemed virtually signposted by that scene, if you watch horror films that is.

Of course the big question is will Owen stay dead because, as we know, in science fiction death is not always the end for characters. We will have to wait and see if they have killed him off for good until the next episode.

The best moment of the whole episode, for Doctor Who fans that only watch Torchwood because they feel they have too and feel dirty afterwards for watching something other than Doctor Who, was the moment when Ianto gave Martha the alias Samantha Jones. Now to a lot of people this will mean bugger all but it would have really excited the members of the audience who had read and followed the 8th Doctor’s adventures by BBC books where a certain Samantha Jones was his companion for a couple of years.

Reset was another superb episode. Torchwood is getting better week-by-week and, even though I really liked the first series, this new series is a lot better.

Adam Adamant

Torchwood: Adam

Showing your regular characters in a totally different light is very commonplace in science fiction shows, so it seems no surprise that Torchwood has decided to plough that particular furrow, and it is to their credit that they did it brilliantly and produced what was one of the best episodes of the series to date bettering Tregenna’s own Out of Time.

Catherine Tregenna’s script is up to the standards of her two series one episodes and there are some great character moments in this episode even though the characters are not the same as you would normally expect them to be. For instance Tosh has become a sluttish vamp; Owen has become a geek; Jack has become rather subdued and weak willed and Gwen appeared to totally forget Rhys. There isn’t much in the way of plot, but who needs plot when you get an episode like this one?

I mean poor Rhys. They go away for what one can only assume was a dirty weekend and when Gwen comes back from work that evening she pulls a gun on him and threatens to kill him and doesn’t appear to know who he is. That is one of the more disturbing bits in the episode, as is when Ianto is made to believe he is a monster and has killed two girls and could do the same again any moment.

Gareth David-Lloyd gave an excellent performance in this episode and you could almost believe that he did what he had committed the crimes that he thought he had done. You do have to feel sorry for Rhys and Kai Williams continued to give an impressive performance as Rhys here trying to keep it all together when his fiancee doesn’t recognise him. I mean how horrible would that be? In my opinion, that is one of the scariest things that I have ever seen on Torchwood to date because I know exactly how I would feel if my wife came home from work and didn’t know who I was. Also was it just me or did Rhys seem to know who Jack was? Perhaps Gwen didn’t Retcon him at the end of Meat or perhaps there is another explanation. Rhys didn’t seem to be that bothered about Adam but as he knows very little about Gwen’s life in Torchwood then he wouldn’t think twice about it. He also had other things on his mind at the time, like why did his fiancée not know who the hell he was.

Adam was an interesting character and the actor who played him did a good job but he didn’t really do a great deal did he? Well apart from mess about with the memories of all of the team that is. I mean when the episode started it was as though he had always been a member of Torchwood (and for the rest of the characters except for Gwen he had been) and he was even cleverly inserted into the clips in the pre-title sequence something that Buffy did for the episode Superstar when a minor character took centre stage. Then it started to get very frustrating as nobody seemed to notice that there was something wrong. Gwen did at the beginning when she came in from her weekend away and didn’t know who Adam was but that was soon put right when Adam did his shtick and in doing so removed her memories of her fiancée. Nice!

I don’t know if you can actually say that what Adam was doing was actually evil, because he was only doing what he needed to survive, which is essentially what all life forms do, but it certainly wasn’t very pleasant for a few of them, particularly Ianto and Gwen, so Jack had no choice but to give them all Retcon to make them forget the last few days because if they didn’t remember Adam, then he would just simply cease to exist and it would be like it never happened to the rest of them.

Owen and Tosh seemed to have swapped personalities in this episode with Owen becoming the nerdy one chasing his true love, rather than the otherway round, which we are used to. It just didn’t feel right really even though it was nice to see a very confident Tosh exuding a raw, sexuality that she has never done before and boy does she do it well. I am sure she was even wearing a tighter top that she might otherwise do but that might just be me being a bit pervy as Tosh is my favourite female character in Torchwood and how good was it that she ended up with a character with same name as myself in the episode? Probably not for anyone else to be honest but I liked it! It also seemed a bit strange feeling sorry for Owen as he was knocked back by Tosh when he was obviously fawning and totally, head over heels in love with her. God, that bought back memories of myself when I was about 13 but that isn’t important and I am digressing.

It was nice to finally see what the Boeshane peninsular looks like and to get a bit of background on Captain Jack even though by the end of the episode we know little more about his background than we did before. We now know who Gray is and we know what his parents looked like but that is about it. We still don’t know what his real name is which I think is still a good thing, as we don’t need to know much about him and what we know is quite enough for the time being. It also allows for them to give away bits and pieces over the course of time making his character even more fascinating. Well for me anyway. I mean do we even need to know Jack’s real name? Would it really make any difference if we did? I don’t think that it would.

Ok it wasn’t completely original and was like a mixture of Star Trek: TNG episode and a couple of Red Dwarf episodes but it was very well written, sympathetically directed, superbly acted and bought a lump to my throat on a number of occasions.

I would highly recommend this episode and hope that one day Catherine Tregenna will get a crack at Doctor Who.