Thursday, August 25, 2011

Torchwood: More chemistry, less torture please...

How much more must Rex and his chest wound endure?
Let me begin this entry by saying again that I haven’t seen any of the old Torchwood series and very few episodes of Dr. Who, so I can’t compare Torchwood: Miracle Day with previous efforts. That said, the pilot hooked me and hooked me hard, being so far above the quality of most sci-fi shows on today and having a fantastic premise. Obviously both John Barrowman and the character of Capt. Jack Harkness are extremely charismatic, and being the main connecting thread  of Torchwood he deserves every minute of screen time he gets.

Last week’s episode was a fantastic showcase for Jack and his history, his endearing and loathsome traits coming through to show us that, despite his miraculous immortality, he’s still just a flawed man. “Immortal Sins” was extremely well written (by Russell T. Davies), and when I saw Jack begin to think about teaming up with his companion in more ways than one, I knew right then that I would watch an entire series of the very likable (and very hot) Jack and Angelo traveling through time and having adventures without the need for a Tardis and a sonic screwdriver. Apparently that would make a lot of other fans happy, too, judging from Facebook and Twitter.

“Immortal Sins,” however, was perhaps the best episode of the series so far, which is a shame. When characters do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do, or that are just plain dumb, just to advance the plot, it’s obvious. Every previous episode of Torchwood, unfortunately, has suffered from this syndrome, and it’s maddening to watch unfold. I find myself frequently yelling at the television, “Why would you do that?!?” My husband has gotten so frustrated by it that he no longer watches and leaves the room rather than upset me further by going Mystery Science Theater 3000 on it.

I’m going to watch the “Miracle Day” arc through to the end for a number of reasons, however, in part because of “Immortal Sins” which I felt redeemed the series as a whole. I’m now dying (no pun intended) to know what happens with Angelo and Jack... but that’s about it. I like Gwen Cooper, even if she does shockingly boneheaded things for a supposedly amazing secret ops agent, and seems like she’s had about five energy drinks all the time. Rex Matheson is also likable, but how many times is this guy going to be tied up, tortured and generally kicked around? The rest of the characters... eh. I really don’t care if I ever see any of them again.

Speaking of torture, enough’s enough, writers. I loathe modern horror like Saw and its ilk, and the graphic nature of the show needs to be turned down by about half. I understand the need for Jack’s slaughterhouse scene, but it was double what was needed. I also did not need to see a pen being inserted into a chest wound at an excruciatingly slow speed, or two peoples’ brains being blown out. If you’re doing it for shock value, stop it. It does nothing for the plot, the characters, or the show at large, and actually cheapens the dramatic value of these scenes by showing cheap gore rather than creativity. Thank goodness you chose not to show every excruciating minute of Vera’s death but instead suggested most of it (and feed the frighteningly skinny Arlene Tur a sandwich, for crying out loud).

While my overall review of Torchwood has slipped a lot since my glowing review of the pilot, I still have hope for redemption, and it’s still better than almost anything else on television right now. C'mon, Captain, show us what you've got.

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