Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Torchwood - Season Two.

So one of the inadvertently funniest moments from the last series of Doctor Who was in the penultimate episode where The Master tells Captain Jack that he's got the rest of the Torchwood team out of the way by sending them to another part of the world on a wild goose chase. Considering that under the control of Chris Chibnall this team of rapists, emotional cripples and closeted lesbians had almost all managed to kill Captain Jack at least once and were treated with absolute contempt by the Welsh constabulary, why sending them out of the country was supposed to be a blow to Jack wasn't entirely clear.

Ahhh, Chris Chibnall. The Anti-Matter RTD. The RTD of Earth-2. In the 'Mirror, Mirror' alternate universe of Star Trek: DS9, where the evil Kira does nothing except wear bondage gear and suck the face off of every female that comes near her, RTD looks like Chris Chibnall. Are we clear? This man has a talent for writing. Unfortunately, he has elected to use his powers for evil. Rich Johnston has reported that Chris has got the job of showrunner for the preposterous sounding 'Law and Order: London'. We have to hope that Rich is on the money about this one, because if he isn't then Chris would be replacing RTD on 'Doctor Who' when he leaves at the end of the next series, and that is too terrifying to contemplate.

And so, Torchwood series two. I believe that series two was offered before series one aired. I never bothered to look up the viewing figures but as it was on BBC3 I don't think they'd tell us much to judge whether it was a hit with fans. I remember there was a comedy show about teachers in the mid-nineties called something like 'Chalk' where they commissioned two series straight away saying comedy needed time to develop characters for the public to like. Result= Two series of a show that was consistently derided as awful, then it disappeared, never to be seen again.

But I start watching and, blow me, it's good. It's as though Chibnall has actually read all the criticism on the net, or maybe it's just that the show is going out at 9:00 pm on BBC 2 rather than 10:00 pm on BBC 3. The team act intelligently and, in Owen's case, aren't trying to shag Gwen and kill not-Gwen all the time. They work as a team, whereas in season one they all hated each others guts and seemed locked in a vicious spiral of self-loathing and abuse. They don't fly off the handle about Jack's reticence to speak about his past (which I still don't really understand) and the scene with Ianto and Jack in the office is genuinely sweet, whereas all the same-sex snogging in the first series was as erotic as Big Daddy fighting Giant Haystacks. The script is also very funny. The much ridiculed notion of a super secret team that drives around in it's own monogrammed cars seems to have been quietly forgotten, everyone knows of Torchwood and I'm fine with that.

I remain to be convinced as to whether they can sustain this throughout the series but if tonight's episode had been banned I would have jumped out straight away. This has at least made me want to come back for more.

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