I think the following things about Torchwood: Children of Earth

15 Jul

Part One – Yay!

– It wasn’t terrible. This shocked me because the main draw of the last two series was they they were so ridiculous (man who can’t die leads team of supposedly skilled but undeniably inept stock characters in the fight against aliens made of Play-Doh. In Cardiff) that it became incredibly watchable, if only to see if it could get any worse as the weeks went on. They did, this didn’t – the threat was actually threatening (even to the point where head honcho Captain Jack’s convinient powers of effectively being a zombie prozed unhelpful), some twists were genuinely surprising and the relationship between Jack and tea-boy Ianto seemed like something more than smutty fanfiction fuel.

– Killing Ianto off therefore took some balls – a couple of the writers have been recieving angry and often outright stupid messages from fans calling it ‘bad writing’. I’d say if a character is loved so much that getting rid of him is a crime worthy of boycotts and threats, that character can’t possibly have been written badly.

– The aliens, ‘the 456’, had a definite ‘Horseman of the Apocalypse’ vibe to it/them – only one is seen, and even then it’s obscured by a tank of serene blue gas. Despite the fact that it basically ejaculates whenever it’s pissed, their portrayal was much more reserved – and thus downright evil – than most of the dumbshit moustache-twirling monsters of previous series. I think one actually did have a moustache as well. The only problem with the 456 is that they kind of resemble a cannon fodder enemy from the second Ratchet and Clank game on the PS2:

'Smolgian Snapper'

The 456

The 456

– The most logical interpretation of the ending is that Torchwood is finished. Good. I liked it when it was crap and loved it for the five days it was good, but it never struck me as something with a lifespan over a few series – how many times can aliens invade Cardiff (of all places – what the hell’s wrong with Swindon?) before they are defeated by Jack and his skills of resurrection (which just seem to involve sitting up really fast and inhaling – I can do that, why can’t I come back to life if I die? I did it the other night after I woke up from that dream about being an NPC in Fallout 3. I’m good at it.) without it becoming tired and predictable? Oh wait, it’s already become predictable thanks to American Jesus here.

– Actually, that’s what I liked about Children of Earth – Jack was, right up until he hit the ‘make everything go back to normal’ button ubiquitous with Russell T Davies’ series finales, mostly useless, as opposed to Gay Superman. He lets a bomb get planted in his stomach, gets encased in concrete and has to be saved by his cherub-faced boyfriend wearing a high-vis jacket and wielding a very slow forklift, seemingly forgets how to steal a laptop without Gwen’s help (despite his history of being a spaceship-joyriding conman adventurer), makes a dramatic and defiant speech to the 456 then seconds later ends up pleading “I take it all back!” (in doing so condemning everyone in the building to death, including his forklift-driving saviour), gives up completely, and when given a chance to redeem himself, ends up letting his own grandson die. Actually, maybe what he does could be better described as ‘actively condemning his own grandson to death by his own hands’.

Part Two – Aww

– That’s another thing, since when did he have a grandson? And a daughter? Why did he never seem to show any concern to any potential family beforehand? The kid doesn’t know that much either – he thinks Jack is his uncle. Well, that’s understandable, I certainly wouldn’t want to explain how there was an invincible alien-fighting pansexual time-traveller in the family, especially since he looks the same age as his daughter. Birthday parties would be awkard.

– The female assassin character is not only generic (‘Agent Johnson’? Really?) but a total bitch, which would be fine if she receaived any kind of comeuppance – thrown into the 456’s gas-tank for instance, or having a radio signal sent into her earpiece that’s just the right frequency that her head explodes. That would have been badass, but instead she shows a little bit of uneasiness about helping to decimate the world’s children, decides maybe it’s not for her, then helps Jack kill his grandson anyway. It’s for the greater good, but still, she could have gotten a little eaten. The result is that after her last scene I was left with blue balls of catharsis, as if the villain had considered his options and concluded that he might not be so evil again perhaps.

– Gwen is meh. I don’t dislike her but as a pregnant, hysterical gap-toothed Welsh woman she lacks action-heroine credentials. The pregnancy subplot in general felt tacked-on, mostly forgotten by the end of the third episode except for as a source of a scene where the marriage between her and Rhys (who is considerably more likeable if just as useless) reaches ‘quiet argument’ point. Anything but that. Also I don’t like the way she holds guns:

You’re not Duke Nukem. Don’t even try.

– When the kids stopped screaming at the end, how did Gwen and everyone else instantly know that the threat had vanished?

– The Prime Minister, who wants to send 10% of all children to their doom and then spin it in such a way as to maximise votes, then absolve himself of all blame, is named is ‘Mr. Green’. Wow, clever. If the Tories win the next election will Series 5 of Doctor Who feature a sinister Prime Minister Clameron?

Part 3 – What I’d change

– Bring back the theme song. No meery jaunt into alien-infested South Wales is complete without the ‘weeoeeeoeeeoeeee’ and the ‘HONK HONK’ and the ‘T-t-torchwood-orchwood-wood’ of the original credits.

– Rhys is becoming part of the team, but needs more independent screen time. At the moment he’s just being bossed about by Gwen, and his willingness to be suggests more ‘whipped’ than ‘hero’. Though this could be irrelevant if it’s been shelved.

– Less aerial shots, geez. This ain’t Google Earth at night.

…And what I’d keep

– Again, potentially irrelevant, but keep the 5-day, 5-episode structure – focusing on a single story, drip-feeding information and events kept it tense and tight, rather than a possibly bloated season-finale double-bill that usually features incidents this hopeless and dramatic.

– Taking out what was originally the point of Torchwood – exagerrated swearing, lame sex (Long-dead Owen asking Gwen when was the last time she ‘came so hard’ remains one of the most uncomfortable, unsexy moments I’ve had watching TV) and any other self-aware ‘dark’ themes made Children of Earth almost impossibly significant improvement, without it seeming immature. More John Frobishers and less cumming, please.

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