Monday, March 30, 2009

Torchwood: Was that a pterodactyl I just saw?

Those of you who read this blog regularly -- or irregularly -- no doubt know of my deep and abiding (albeit relatively recent) love of "Doctor Who." I made the mistake of consuming those episodes as fast as humanly possible, meaning I now have no new shows to watch. So now I've turned to "Doctor Who"'s anagramic brother "Torchwood" and have now seen the first six episodes. So far, I find it incredibly hit or miss...and am not entirely sure it will ever capture my fangirl devotion quite as deeply as The Doctor has.

My first issue makes me feel very sad to even mention...but I think it rests at the heart of my problem with the show... and it's this: John Barrowman doesn't seem charismatic enough to build a whole show around. Now this pains me because I love Barrowman as Captain Jack and he's very, very pretty to look at but where he worked really well as a sidekick, he seems just a wee bit lacking in the leading man department. Again, I'm only six episodes into the series so perhaps Barrowman improves but for now, he's something of a drag.

My second issue is with the writing which seems to seesaw between taut paranormal thrillers and episodes like "The Cyberwoman." In fact, true story, the other night my husband came into the room and asked what I was watching and I had to tell him, "A robot woman...being, uh, pecked to death by a pterodactyl. Why do you ask?" See, a show where alien orgasms make people explode should be adult enough that I don't have to tell my husband I just saw a robot woman being pecked to death by a pterodactyl...unless that's the euphemism I chose to use for explosive alien sex. What I'm saying is, I need a little narrative consistency. And fewer flying dinosaurs.

Other than those two issues, though, for the most part I enjoy the show. There have been some genuinely nerve-fraying moments, and so far, I really like the characters of Gwen Cooper and Owen Harper. And the premise is intriguing and has loads of possibility. Also, it's really making me want to go to Cardiff which is perhaps the scariest thing of all.

I'll be hanging on with "Torchwood," though, as the general consensus seems to be that it improves with age. Plus, I hear James Marsters will be on in season two. If I can't hang on for Spike, then frankly, I don't deserve to call myself a nerdy girl.

17 comments:

Alyson said...

Unfortunately, Liz, consistency is not a strong suit of the Torchwood writers. I would recommend that you keep watching, so that you don't miss out on "They Keep Killing Suzie" (series 1, episode 8) and "Captain Jack Harkness/End of Days" (episodes 12 and 13) which will help you get caught up on how Jack ended up with Ten and Martha. Season two is even less consistent, but the first three episodes are worth renting the DVDs, especially "To the Last Man".

Anonymous said...

Don't worry- Torchwood gets better as Jack gets darker. There is some really good writing and some absolute tear-jerkers. Although I wasn't initially a fan, I have come to love it as much as Doctor Who. And with Tennant now gone, I may have to call it my favourite.

Quilt Monkey said...

In my opinion, it's not even close to being as good as Dr. Who, but I still like(d) to watch it. Do we know if there are more episodes coming??? My husband, also a Dr. Who fan, absolutely hates Torchwood. However, if you stick with it, you will find some good character development in the later episodes...

Meredith Lowe said...

I think second season of Torchwood is a much stronger effort overall, but its very dark undertones are much different than the lighter Doctor Who. Second season has some incredible episodes and a whole lot of sad happenings, but if you can stick with it you'll probably be more satisfied with it - if bittersweet.

Anonymous said...

I would echo the previous comments and add that you won't be sorry for hanging in there until Marsters shows up. He and Barrowman have fantastic chemistry and are loads of fun to watch.

Quilt Monkey, there are more eps coming-- already filmed or being filmed, but I don't know when they're scheduled to air.

Literary Feline said...

I watched the first season of Torchwood for the same reason as you Liz. I was going through Dr. Who withdrawals. I nearly didn't get a copy of the second season because the first season was so hit and miss, but caved anyway. I haven't yet watched it and will probably do so this summer.

I'm curious to see how Marsters does on the show. From the comments, it sounds like I won't be disappointed by continuing to watch.

Jen Anderson said...

Cyberwoman was the show's low point and possibly the lowpoint for all broadcast television ever. It gets better. Not as good at Dr. Who, but leaps and bounds better than Cyberwoman.

Alison said...

As others have said, the quality varies a lot between episodes, but I do think it gets better as it goes. I think the last two episodes of series 1 are better than the first 11 all put together, and there are some really good episodes in series 2, as well.

Liz said...

Okay, you guys have convinced me to hang in there. If it gets bad, I'll just turn the sound down and look at the pretty people. I'm pretty sure that's how people get through America's Next Top Model. :)

Michele said...

For those wondering, season 3 of Torchwood will be airing this summer. Be warned, it's a five episode story that will air every night during a 5 day period - probably in June.

And it's rumoured that may be the last season of TW as JB wants out (allegedly). BUT NOTE THIS IS A RUMOUR NOT CONFIRMED FACT!

Liz: Season 2 is stronger than S1 but the writing's never consistent. I love eps 6 - 8 of S2 for having Martha in them (although only ep 6 actually makes use of her being there, the other two were a bit meh). And DW!Jack is a better character than TW!Jack, who can be far more of an ar$ehole than DW!Jack!

Anonymous said...

I agree with everyone who said season two is better than season one TW. Season one has some good moments, but season two overall is much stronger, and there's some killingly funny moments, as well as some gut-wrenchingly sad ones.

Mostly, though, for me TW is a way to pass the time until I can get my next DW fix. : )

I like Barrowman generally (and I think he's grown into the character since his initial season one DW episodes, where I found him almost unbearably LOUD and over-the-top). My fave Jack scenes are pretty much everything at the end of season 4 DW. But mostly I just think it's because he plays so well off David Tennant, when he goes back to his own show, it's not nearly as interesting because he doesn't seem to have the same energy and snap with the other actors.

Oddly, though, I think JB also has excellent chemistry with Freema Ageyman, which is odd, since Martha is not really high on my list of favorite characters.

Liz, have you checked out the Sarah Jane adventures? The first season is available on region 1 DVD, and it's an excellent, excellent series, with a lot of emotional depth and complexity for something that's geared at an even younger age demographic than DW.

Michele said...

Anon - that's because John adores Freema - he's freely admitted that in Confidentials/Commentaries. He said he thinks Jack and Martha should shag - now considering JB's gay, I think that's quite a compliment to her about the strength of his feelings for Freema. And I know he's not the only gay man to find her fanciable as I recently read an interview with Ben Daniels (her co-star in Law & Order: UK) for the Pink Paper, and both Ben and his interviewer were have a Freema-fest about her! :D

Sareberry said...

It's not Dr. Who! That's part of it's charm for me. I loves me some doctor, but these characters are more fallible, and perhaps that is part of their inconsistency. I enjoy watching people save the world and still mess up on a regular basis. Allows me more room for empathy with the characters.

Elimare said...

I have a hard time with the Cybermen in Dr Who (no interest) so when one showed up in Torchwood I was thinking 'this is a bit meh'. Stick with it Liz. Season 1 gets better - after Countrycide it starts to come together and season 2 will have you crying in your cornflakes.

RedCochina said...

*TW Season One Spoiler*

I knew Torchwood would be nothing like DW so I didn't compare when I watched season one. I still found it really depressing. I'm going to watch the season two eps with James Marsters (hot!) but then I'll probably give it up. Even for a drama it's too heavy for me. When Gwen drugged her boyfriend so she could confess cheating on him and have him not remember...ugh. I watch shows to escape, and TW just dragged down.

Kathe said...

Hang in there Liz, S2 was really good. And I'm looking forward to the 5 ep arc this summer. And dear GOD when is the next DW airing!!!!!!!!! I'm about to die for some David Tennant!

Michele said...

Easter Saturday for the next DW Special