Meat is Murder

Torchwood: Meat

It was only a matter of time before the character of Rhys, Gwen’s long suffering fiancé, got an episode to himself, because after all the shit that she has put him through he deserves it and he is virtually a regular with the amount of episodes he has been in to date, and he got quite a good episode to himself at that.

I do have to admit that it did take a bit of time to get going but once it got going it was another excellent episode was from the pen of Catherine Tregenna. It was quite a bit different to the Catherine Tregenna scripts of the past series in that it was more action packed that her other episodes whereas the previous episode, which was a more Tregennaish episode (at least when compared to this episode), was actually penned by Helen Raynor.

I am not sure if the point of this episode was to say that you shouldn’t eat meat, if it is badly treated (Morrissey would have been proud) or not, but that is the impression that you might have got from this episode. Would all the vegetarian viewers be sitting there all smug and everything saying I told you so to their meat eating friends?

Probably not as there was no part of the episode where it says that you shouldn’t kill animals for meat, rather that it this case the animal was obviously alive and in pain while it was being sliced apart. I think that may have been the point of the episode because there is really no moralising about the reasons why you shouldn’t eat meat at all or no diatribes on the benefits of eating vegetables present in the episode. If anything it might make you may not want to eat at any fast food establishment (in the Merthyr area or in any area quite frankly) for a while after watching either (though having said that you might not have wanted to before and definitely will never consider doing so), but it certainly won’t put you off meat, it just might make you wonder exactly what it is that you are eating at times.

There was plenty of humour in the episode with the best line coming from Ianto, after Tosh said that they could feed the world with the meat after realising that it appears to be constantly growing despite the best efforts of the bad guys to kill it, when he proclaims ‘we could release a single”.

There was some good banter going on between Rhys and Jack in the episodes, with Rhys asking Jack if he might be gay, or that it was a shame that he wasn’t a bit uglier. Tosh in this episode returns to her more supporting role and for this episode is back fancying the pants of Owen without him even being aware of it. I mean she made him his favourite sandwiches and everything, what more does she need to do?

There was some interesting direction in this episode with the quick camera pans back and forth during the scene when Rhys confronts Gwen about what he saw, and the bizarre angle he employed when the meat guys locked the team in and it looked for all the world as if the guy was lying down on the door rather than standing next to it which he was actually doing.

The ending was pretty much the correct thing to do for the alien itself. I mean it was in pain and there was no way that Torchwood could have actually nursed it back to health and then released it back into the rift, not at the size that it had grown to at that point, and also as Ianto put it where would they store it? I mean I know that the hub is rather large but is it really large enough to hold a massive alien whale cow creature. It was almost as large as the warehouse it was being stored it when Torchwood came across it in the first place so god knows how large it could have grown.

I am not sure if at the end of the episode Gwen had given Rhys a retcon pill because she stormed back into the hub at the end saying that she couldn’t bring herself to do it and then stormed back out again. Unless she gave it to Rhys when she kissed him at the end it might be possible that he was not retconned, but would they possibly allow that to happen as the only other people who see the hub who aren’t members of the team seem to end up dead.

Another good episode. 7 out of 10

Poor Mancunian Tommy

Torchwood: To The Last Man

To The Last Man is the obligatory Toshiko episode. Like the previous seasons Greeks Bearing Gifts, the episode features the computer expert having a doomed relationship, which will end in tears for poor Toshiko. That is however where the similarities between this episode and GBG end, because this is a much better episode and quite easily the best episode of the series so far.

It shares themes with Out of Time and Captain Jack Harkness from the previous year and like those episodes the plot is more about character than the story. I think that this is where Torchwood seems to excel with these more intimate character based episodes rather than the more over the top action packed plots which, although fun to watch, are often not as satisfying as these less showy episodes.

I have always had a soft spot for Toshiko and it was nice to see an episode featuring her as the main character as I think that she is often underused, and she is now more of a rounded character (although if you look at her she is already quite rounded in her own way) after this episode and you feel that you know a lot more about and I, for one, can emphasise with her more than I can any other character in the series.

The love affair between her and Tommy in this story was much more believable than her affair with Mary the previous year and it has nothing to do with the fact that this was a heterosexual affair, rather than a lesbian one, rather that it made sense and was actually believeable. It was rather touching in fact and the resolution where they knew that they would never see each other again was actually almost heartbreaking as you wanted them to settle down together because they just seemed to be the perfect couple.

Witness the scene when Tosh and Tommy first go out after he has had all of his tests and the rest of the team remark how sweet it was that they were going for a drink, followed by a movie and then possibly a pizza. It was almost as if the rest of them were proud parents watching their offspring go out on their first date. Bless.

One of the other really good bits about this episode was the pre-credit sequence featuring the 1918 Torchwood versions of Jack and Gwen, Gerald and Harriet, who were ever so British and stiff-upper lipped, all speaking with perfect received pronunciation, with their rather incongruous technology for the time period. I mean Torchwood had cryogenic technology in 1918, which I am certain didn’t exist in that time, although I am willing to stand corrected if I am talking rubbish.

Of course this is Torchwood and they are always going to have more hi-tech technology than the period due to the rift and all of that. It was nice that we saw a glimpse of what Torchwood was like in the past because we all know that Torchwood was founded in the Victorian era and has probably been in Cardiff since the first known rift activity from The Unquiet Dead, but have never been shown, or had even mentioned, previous Torchwood crews, so that was a nice change and shows that Torchwood does in fact have a history, and quite an interesting one at that.

There was even a line when Jack said that Tommy had been there longer than any of them and then corrected that to any of you so how long had Jack been involved with Torchwood? We know that Jack had been on the Earth since the 1890’s but he certainly wasn’t part of Torchwood in 1918, or he would have know about Toshiko’s involvement and he would have been in that photograph of the 1918 team.

Of course, we now know why Toshiko was recruited to Torchwood because they always knew that she was an important part of it, a very important part in this case. I wonder if that were the case with the other members of the crew or just with Toshiko.

It certainly does make you wonder and opens some wonderful possibilities for future episodes and fan fiction exploring these previous incarnations of Torchwood. What about the original incarnation of Torchwood Cardiff, imagine what that would have been like, or the 1960s incarnation where they all wore mini-skirts (were they all woman in that time I wonder), the possibilities are endless and I have no doubt that on various Torchwood blogs and communities out there fiction is being written featuring Gerald and Harriet as I write these words.

Helen Raynor gave us a fine script, a more impressive offering that her first Torchwood episode and her Doctor Who two-parter last year and shows that she has grown as a writer during that intervening time and does make her Sontaran epic in series four a possible story to watch out for if she turns in a script like this one.

It seemed quite convoluted at first but in the end it turned out to be deceptively simple and by the end it generally made sense and told a simple story well. We don’t know quite why Tommy was taken by Torchwood apart from the whole time paradox thing as if he hadn’t been taken by the 1918 Torchwood lot he would never have been able to tell the 1918 lot to take him in the first place.

As Pertwee would have said they were trapped in a temporal paradox and had no choice but to do what they had to do, in order for the fabric of the space continuum not to collapse in on itself, as it might have otherwise done or something to that effect. So the fact that it was a temporal paradox was a perfect explanation for why Tommy was taken but I guess for some people that wouldn’t be enough. For me though that explained the whole thing and I am happy with it.

A friend of mine said it was a bit of bad continuity that there was still power in the hospital, even though it was about to be demolished. I am not sure that this is a plot hole in itself but perhaps it could be something to do with the time shifts or the rift itself, rather than a health and safety concern on behalf of the demolition company or a fault on the part of the writer and script editor.

A lot of the scenes set in the hospital with the ghosts appearing at random intervals were rather reminiscent of Sapphire and Steel, which I appreciate as a fan of that particular show. It is no wonder that P J Hammond seems attuned to the format of Torchwood when you see episodes like this one, it is almost a spiritual relative of it.

Torchwood is going from strength to strength this series and, hopefully, it won’t be long before a third series is commissioned.

More Sarah Jane

Good news for fans of The Sarah Jane Adventures.

The intrepid journalist is back for another 24 episodes this year. Yes, that is right 24 episodes. More than double what they commissioned for the first series. What that means is that instead of five stories we are going to get 12 stories, which is great as the first season did seem to finish just as it was really getting going for me.

My wife thinks it may be on twice weekly now they have 24 episodes and I am inclined to agree with her, as how many children’s series have 24 episodes seasons, and then how many of them are shown once a week? Not many I think you will find which makes the twice weekly broadcast more likely.

That is, of course, assuming that they are not just filming two series of 12 episodes back to back, one for 2008 and the other for 2009, which is another possibility.

This now means that we have Torchwood till March/April, Doctor Who from March/April to June/July, then Sarah Jane from September/October to November/Decemember, a full year of Whoniverse goodness.

There is no such thing as aliens

Torchwood: Sleeper

I must admit that I was mightily impressed with James Moran’s debut script for television, it was funny, fast paced and had a good central idea of sleeper agents sent to a planet who are totally unaware of who or what they truly are, which, alright, was not James Moran’s idea and has often been used in other science fiction shows, but I thought it worked and was a good episode in its own right.

Ianto continued his metamorphosis into the shows resident comic (with some great lines he is certainly an improved character in this second series, and is a lot more confident than he was in the previous series and is afforded more respect and is included a lot more as a proper team member rather than glorified teaboy) and I have not noticed his make a single cup of coffee so far, so perhaps they order that in as well as pizza!

Moran even gave Tosh a better share of the action, than she is normally afforded, and she is too is an improved character because of it although having said that I have always had a soft spot for Tosh, so it is nice to see her with more to do. They all worked well together in this episode, and I do believe that this is going to be how it is from now with the characters having forgotten about their petty dislikes of their fellow Torchwood team-mates and are getting on with the job in hand without any of the back biting and sniping which you would expect when they have been through what they have and they can now get along, which is the one thing I think is an improvement this series.

I must admit when I was watching the bit when the other sleeper agents were activated when Beth was frozen I did wonder why they had never considered that possibility when Jack was telling everyone about the Sleeper agents. He did say that there was an advance guard but he didn’t seem to consider that a problem at first.

In the end though the advance guard of this alien race did seem to only consist of four people (Beth, the woman with the baby, the smartly dressed man and the paramedic) which isn’t really much of an advance guard when you think about, but when they can do what they do, perhaps they only need about four of them. After all we only every had three Daleks at a time throughout the original run of Doctor Who so there is a kind of precedent set for the amount of aliens needed for an actual invasion.

Of course by the end of the episode they didn’t solve the problem which means that no doubt at some point they will encounter these aliens again, probably in another episode written by Mr Moran. After this episode, though, I am looking forward to Moran’s episode of Doctor Who (the one set in Pompeii) which should be a good one and, if this one is anything to go by, a funny one too.

I thought that the direction was frenetic and was often a bit too fast paced for its own good. The opening scene before the titles was well done but left you not really knowing what had happened except for the fact that it probably wasn’t very nice.

The episode was relatively gory and the amount of blood on show will probably be heavily trimmed when the episode is repeated but I didn’t think that it was overly gory. In fact considering it was written by a bloke who’s only previous work was a horror film I was expecting it to be a bit gorier than it actually was.

The girl playing Beth was better when she was playing the fake human Beth, than the alien Beth, and you did start to feel sorry for her, even though she was in fact a homicidal alien killing machine, like Gwen was when she was talking about her boyfriend and how she feels human and all that sort of stuff.

I thought that Sleeper was a good episode with lots of humour, heart and action. I hope the second series continues along this vein, which I have no doubt that it will. I thought Torchwood was great during its initial run, but it is even better this time round.