Friday, October 27, 2006

So Torchwood is ...

... not unmissable.

Not bad but not unmissable either. However, I liked it more after the second episode than I did after the first, and will probably keep coming back when I have the time without actively clearing my calendar.

It’s not the first time I’ve felt this way about a series – I only kept watching Buffy because I had nothing better to do and Farscape I made the deliberate decision to stop watching, until opinions I trusted told me I was missing out. Both took a while for the hooks to sink in. I’m prepared to believe that could happen this time too.

Torchwood is well made. It’s smart, it’s sassy and I bet Cardiff has never looked so sexy on screen. It has potential. It has a hellmouth rift.

But it doesn’t have a heart. We have five lead characters, only one of whom is remotely likable (and I don’t mean Jack). On the strength of things seen, it looks like Gwen will become the moral conscience of the organisation – but the fact that the others got to where they did without her doesn’t hold out a lot of hope. We have no reason to care for them. In fact, the biggest driver will be learning more about Jack – the Who fans will want to know how he got back from the far future after the TARDIS stranded him, the non-Who fans will still want to pick up on his character’s evident mystery.

Episode 1 also suffered from over-familiarity. It’s by no means the first series in which an innocent bystander is determined to track down the mysterious secret organisation and ends up being recruited. I remember the excellent, underrated, one-season-only Dark Skies, in which I was on the edge of my seat, almost screaming with the desire to know more. And thanks to the recent series of Dr Who we already know what Torchwood is and does. To be honest, they could have left episode 1 out altogether and launched with episode 2. The X-Files gave us five minutes of Mulder meeting Scully and then it was on with the weirdness. Let the back stories of the characters unfurl. Much better.

So far we’ve had boy-girl, boy-boy and girl-girl. There’s one further combination that comes to mind, and if I was the Weevil they have looked away in the cells, I’d be worried.

Finally, if anyone wants proof that John Barrowman isn’t just a pretty face in a Group Captain’s overcoat (why does he keep the insignia?), here it is.

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