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The Book of the Howlings of Ming, Seeker After Arcane and Esoteric Truths
Things I never thought I'd say about Torchwood... 
11th-Jul-2009 11:06 am
Seal of Rassilon
Achtung! Spoileren!

Actually, I really enjoyed Children of Earth. There, I've said it (cue cries of "You fiend! What have you done with the real Ming?!").

I really didn't care for the first season. To me it seemed that Rusty's idea of adult and mature was like a teenagers: lots of swearing and sexual references is really grown up, right? The characters also came across as a bunch of knobs and, worse, incompetent knobs. I loved the theory (from luckykaa?) that they only thought they were an elite black ops team. Actually, they were the crap ones that London couldn't fire because they were civil servants so they were sent out to the boonies of Cardiff...

Second season was an improvement but, for me, it was still something to watch when convenient, not ASAP.

CoE was a revelation though. I watched the first one live but, on the other nights, I was out fencing, meeting US colleagues for dinner or at a beer festival and yet, I watched the recording as soon as I got home. I loved the sense of a massive doomsday event running throughout CoE, the believable portrayal of those in power, the idea that sometimes, there is no perfect decision and those decisions have consequences you have to live with. The mood and tone actually started to strike me as reminiscent of New Galactica. Quite frankly, this seems worlds apart from the first two seasons and is what it should have been from the start.

One thing though: did Jack have any plan when initially going to confront the 456 beyond stamping his feet and going "No, shan't, so there!"?

I must admit that I was initially a bit surprised that, just as I decide that Torchwood (neée Torturewood) has actually got really good, there seems to be a lot of comment out there declaring that Torchwood is ruined forever (along with Jack Harkness). With hindsight, I suppose it's logical - if it's evolved and matured enormously into something I like, it'd be probable it's changed in ways that will alienate some existing fans.

I thought the format worked well too - one episode a night: just about the perfect balance between building anticipation on my part and driving me mad with the wait.

A few specific comments:
  • I seem to recall Lois figuring out there's something odd about Colonel Oduya because he's not wearing a British uniform. Er... in what way? Only thing non-standard about his uniform I could see were the UNIT wings.
  • What is it with Who and Torchwood that senior military officers now have to be black (and, in the case of UNIT, have African names)?
  • John Frobisher - superb character and performance by Jim Capaldi. His way out was shocking and yet very believable
  • Ianto's death - must admit, I find it hard to get very bothered about that but, then again, I've wanted a bullet in his head ever since Cyberwoman!
  • Given they were supposed to be the government's definition of the least desirable 10% of the country's children, the ones rounded up seemed awfully well dressed (in uniform, no less) and, well, white...
  • Again with the squaddies with G36s. I guess that's because clone G36 airsofts are a lot cheaper than SA80s ;-)
  • The black ops sniper in episode 2 was more than a little crap...
  • If the Doctor thought Harriet Jones'actions as PM were reprehensible, I'd love to know what he'd make of this one's! Then again, I've more than once thought the current Doctor was a bit of a knob too...

So, in conclusion, loved it, hope there's more like it to come. It'd be ironic that if it got shitcanned just as it became a show that impressed me. Or maybe something interesting to note ;-)
11th-Jul-2009 10:49 am (UTC)
I agree, I thought it was fantastic.

Its weird though, it seems to have really impressed those of us who thought S1 and S2 of Torchwood were immature badly written tripe populated by, as you say, incompetant knobheads and rapists, and alienated those fans (mostly boyslashers it seems) who really liked the show as it was.
11th-Jul-2009 11:05 am (UTC)
I loved the first two series and I though this one was utterly brilliant, much more the show I always saw lurking behind the old format. Of course, I always though Ianto was an utter waste of space and rather liked Gwen, so maybe I'm not on quite the same page as a lot of the others.... ;)

Here's hoping that the ratings get us a s4!
11th-Jul-2009 11:11 am (UTC)
Yes! It was very much the dark adult grown up Torchwood that they promised us this spin-off was going to be, before they churned out a show that was significantly less mature than the Sarah Jane Adventures.

The ratings are very good by the way, 5.9 to 6.2 in the overnights, so that will go up. So it puts it on a par with other successful BBC1 drama shows I think.

They must have done something right, I mean, it got like, 3 times more viewers than Torchwood usually gets. And kept them for the week.
11th-Jul-2009 11:14 am (UTC)
I've been kinda apathetic about Torchwood as a whole (doesn't help that Tosh was pretty much the only character I consistantly liked throughout), so this latest installment has me feeling the same way.
I liked it, as a whole, but there were too many bits that had me going 'huh? what?' for it to be totally satisfying.

To be honest, I liked Jack-the-Bastard and hope he's back again, but it seems like it'd hafta be Torchwood 2.0, what with the 'let's all go our seperate ways' ending, and I'm not sure if that would just be a kinda copout to cash in on it's success.
11th-Jul-2009 11:26 am (UTC)
Tosh was the only one who wasn't criminally incompetant. The rest of them were like, in any other secret government agency they would have been 'retired' years ago.

And yep, it was a logically consistant place for Jack to wind up. Despite everything, he's been on an interesting story arc. (And my feeling now is that its done and he should be left alone now. But knowing RTD, Jack will be back.)
11th-Jul-2009 11:58 am (UTC)
I wouldn't so much mind Jack coming back, as long as they don't backslide with the character.
Keep him all dark & mean, but I can't see that working long term, so, yep, no Jack please!
11th-Jul-2009 06:14 pm (UTC)
I'm sort of dreading the final episode of Tennants Who now, if the rumours about Jack being in it are true.

Maybe he's cut off his head and had it installed in a giant fishtank in order to make pennance with what he did.
12th-Jul-2009 08:30 am (UTC)
Hey, it'd at least finally explain the whole Face of Bo thing *rollseyes*
12th-Jul-2009 11:01 am (UTC)
But not why the face Of Bo didn't recognise the Doctor when they were first introduced at the End Of The World. *also rolls eyes*
12th-Jul-2009 11:08 am (UTC)
Well, he was really old, probably had a touch of alzheimers.
11th-Jul-2009 11:44 am (UTC)
One of my friends had an epiphany about Torchwood in season one, and concluded that they were basically Dad's Army.
11th-Jul-2009 11:46 am (UTC)

"They like it up 'em, Captain Harkness, Sir! They like it up 'em!"
11th-Jul-2009 02:20 pm (UTC)
Me, I loved it to pieces - showing the darkness that Torchwood has shown flashes of occasionally. No big surprise to most of the more...rational fans (who yes, are boyslashers) that Jack sold the kids originally and that he was prepared to use his own grandkid as the nearest one when necessary - the doctor has always been about 'everyone! save everyone!' where Jack has always been 'acceptable losses, needs of the many'.

My only peeve? Death of Ianto. Brilliantly acted, but it smacks so much of RTD's thing for random deaths to make it more 'meaningful'. Didn't even make sense plot-wise, since it was obvious that anyone who went into Thames House would chance getting killed. Got enough 'let's torture Jack' when he had to sacrifice his own grandson. And would've given them more of a cast for a potential S4. (which has a high likelihood, given the overnight ratings (not taking into account HD, iplayer, repeats, dvd sales) have been on average 5.9 million.
12th-Jul-2009 12:00 am (UTC)
The only thing that makes me worry about the future of Torchwood is that having played a blinder like this how do they top it or even equal it again? Not to mention in what format? Personally, I'd like more than five episodes of the show in a year but if they go back to the old format it's going to be at the risk of diluting the quality and RTD seems to think, from what he's said in interviews, that it would be difficult to move away from the new format and no matter how much I think he's talking through his hat, he's the bloke in charge for now.

It makes me worry.
12th-Jul-2009 08:55 am (UTC)
RTD is saying conflicting things. He is also said a few months ago the COE was going to be the end of Torchwood and it was going out with a bang.

Which it did.
12th-Jul-2009 08:59 am (UTC)
It was great - 6.3 million think it was great...

The only ones who have problems with it are the Ianto/Jack shippers - it has basically broken there favorite plaything. I can understand why they are upset, but as an end to a show goes it doesnt change the fact that it was well written and truely shocking in places. So yes - I understand the slashers dispair, but am getting really tired of the whole 'it was great untill the lats two parts' and 'RTD is a wanker who must die' posts going around. Its like DW fandom at its worst.

As the Doctor has said (in several incarnations in the last year via TV and BF) 'Everybody Leaves'
12th-Jul-2009 11:10 am (UTC)
I enjoyed it on the whole, but I had my issues with it - mostly the technical points glossed over in favour of all the emoting. For example; Torchwood blow'd up? So, what happened to all the dangerous alien tech down there? Or the pteredactyl? Or the bodies in cryo (including Jack's brother)?

Given they were supposed to be the government's definition of the least desirable 10% of the country's children, the ones rounded up seemed awfully well dressed (in uniform, no less) and, well, white...

But of course, if they'd all been dead-eyed chavs, street-corner gangbangers and feckless ASBO hoodies, it wouldn't pluck at the heartstrings so, would it? And besides, those kinds of kids would have just stolen the bus and gone joy-riding...
15th-Jul-2009 06:45 am (UTC)
Could it be that CoE was the most adult-like thing RTD has written? If so, I want to know who ghost wrote it...nothing up to date gives the impression he can do anything this thoughtful without a rubbish happy ending.

That being said, I thought it was the best Torchwood series/storyline, but there was a lot of cop outs and the ending was a little too neat. Personally I'd have preferred an ending where they figure it out, but it's just too little too late. And the kids are gone and the Doctor returns to a world grieving including Jack because his grandson died in vain.
But would that have been too much of a poison pill for the Stephen Moffat to start with?
15th-Jul-2009 08:24 pm (UTC)
Don't know if that was my thought or not. I'll happily take credit for it but it sounds a lot more like blue_sun_scribe flavour cynicism.
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