Thursday, January 29, 2009
Sunday, January 25, 2009
So when the new Doctor Who came out, I was a might impressed with it. The series managed to upgrade the series into something modern, while still keeping that essentially "British" feel to it. I have only been able to see the first season of the New Doctor and a couple of snippets of David Tennant's run.
Torchwood was a spin-off that arose around the second season of Doctor Who, and was one that I avoided watching for some time. The reports I had received from people watching the series had left me uncertain as to whether I'd be keen to watch it or not. Sex, violence, gore, sex... it sounded a bit... different.
Finally on Baz's recommendation, I got a hold of Seasons 1 and 2 of Torchwood to finally judge for myself whether the show was for me or not.
Season One: If sex makes things racy, bisexuality makes it racier!
Okay. So BBC Wales wanted to make a sexy, more Americanised science fiction action series. The first season of Torchwood is insanely inconsistent. There are some fantastic episodes in the series, but the writers clearly don't "get" the genre mix they are aiming for.
As Lee puts it, the show is decidedly Welsh. However, rather than play up to Welsh cultural behaviour, the show struggles to be more American action show. Which makes the whole production kind of feel like a weekend project made on a big budget.
Within a few episodes, every major cast member had a same sex kiss - ooooh racy! Except it isn't, even I found it kind of awkward watching. It felt less like the characters legitimately were bisexual and more like a purile "we're so sexy we have sex with ANYONE!"
Which is a shame, because one of the best storylines is a bisexual storyline we only see play out in the background of season 1. Ianto, one of the team, loses the woman he loves and eventually takes comfort in a sexual relationship with Jack Harkness - the only openly and believeably consistent bisexual on the show. I loved how their relationship was scripted as it was foreshadowed from the very first episode and carefully built with simple scenes like Jack laying a hand on Ianto's shoulder, or Ianto sharing a glance...
This is a great example of how this show struggles through the first season. It has some atrocious scripting where characters speak lines that just don't ring true - and come across flat in those strong Welsh accents. But when the show just embraces it's British culture, it works - such as an episode where during an investigation, Owen comes over with "four pasties for a pound" and a small scene plays out with the distinctly British feel of the characters sitting talking with their pasties.
By the end of the season, the characters have been better fleshed out and were really what kept me watching. I was more interested in Gwen's struggle to balance her homelife with boyfriend Rhys, Tosh's attempts to feel included, Owen's struggle with finally falling in love to have the woman he loved leave him and of course the beautiful Ianto developing a love for Captain Jack Harkness...
Unfortunately the finale smacked of needing to be big without really having a good explanation. I think if they had built it up over four episodes rather than rushing it all into one with a limp leadup episode - it might have been better. As it was, the final crisis felt like an idea that was never really developed properly... which is a shame.
Season 2: Now this is more like it...
Fortunately, the Torchwood team seems to have fired all the previous writers - or sent them to a hard core writing camp - because the tone and feel of the first episode of season 2 is lightyears better. There is still a case of some motivations not really matching up - the bad guy kills someone and tells a witness "I was never here" then promptly walks into a local bar and threatens all the clientele with guns.
Worst is the decision to make Gwen fall in love with Captain Jack. I get the need for a love triangle to keep the Ianto and Jack storyline interesting - Jack is a promiscuous bisexual, which leads to all manner of potential conflicts - but it was so badly developed. In the first season, the relationship between Jack and Gwen never really felt sexual or passionately motivated. It felt like two people who respected each other - but were more friends than potential lovers.
Season 2 opens straight out with Gwen and Jack in a moment where Jack tells Gwen he wants her and she acts all lusty about it. Say what?! I don't mind the triangle aspect - but it should have been built up more slowly over the season. Furthermore, why are Ianto and Gwen into Jack? He's cute- but a slut. And openly so. Are they really that naive to think he will ever want to be just with one person?
I'm curious to see how this is developed over the rest of the season.
The show definitely aims for a bigger brassier action approach - and the dialogue is considerably wittier and more natural.
Check it out!
Love and Huggles