You should have seen me the last few weeks counting away the days (literally) until the 5 part series 3 of Torchwood – my one surviving and beloved TV show. I’m not one for soaps or reality TV – it’s re-runs of Star Trex, Buffy, X Files and Angel or the odd box set of now defunct series like Battlestar or Firefly that I would have missed. Bit if a theme? Yes I’m a geek – I wouldn’t achieve a high level of geekdom perhaps if tested but a geek all the same.
Early last year the John Barrowman biography was given too me by someone in work. I like bio’s but I didn’t know who John Barrowman was. I didn’t expect to get past the first chapter but strangely I intrigued. Not only was this man involved in Musical Theatre (I do love Jazz hands), on some Sci-Fi programme called Doctor Who (I do love Sci-Fi) but he was a force of nature so focused, positive and driven how could I not like him.
Off I went to investigate Doctor Who and Captain Jack Harness. I might seem odd I didn’t know too much about Doctor Who at this stage but in Ireland Doctor Who hasn’t the same status as it does in the UK. In Ireland we have The Late Late Show or Bosco – only people living on the East Coast of Ireland could pick up the BBC (illegally).
Pretty soon I was up to date on both Doctor Who and Torchwood. Torchwood in particular tipped my interest. I love Doctor Who but it’s easy viewing mainly like enjoying a good Disney movie. I trust it’s going to deliver. I know that they might kill Bambi’s Mom but in the end that heartache will be forgotten and I’ll have a nice warm fuzzy feeling. On the other hand I want the under dog Torchwood to deliver but I don’t trust it will (and that’s somehow more exciting). I’ve thrown my hands up in disgust as much as I’ve punched the air with joy.
Character development in my humble opinion was always Torchwood’s downfall not dodgy storylines about alien necklaces. Everyone was introduced but never explored. It was always a rush job – quickly tell loads of stories before we get cancelled. Gwen the heart of the Hub? She’s the viewer’s point of view? (No that’s Rose in Doctor Who?) She’s caring and connected to the outside world – blah blah blah. Gwen was never the Hub’s heart in fact the big mistake they made in Series 1 that made her so instantly unlikable was her affair with Owen whilst making puppy eyes at Jack. Ianto’s character was more confused than complicated. He managed to catch a dinosaur on his first day yet Jack gives him a job making coffee? Cyberwoman (some people love it some people hate it) had no set up and no follow up. Jack is going to shoot Ianto for keeping his Cyberwoman girlfriend in the basement – the next time we see Ianto on screen Jack gives him a pat on the back for checking weather patterns. One minute Ianto is telling Jack his going to get revenge when he least expects it and the next his dangling a stopwatch. There simply isn’t enough pieces of the puzzle for the viewer to get a clear idea of who these people are or what the want. All the relationships are strained or forced or simply misunderunderstood. In Fragments we take a step back and see how Jack recruited Tosh, Owen and Ianto. It was a show all fans loved. A simple bit of back-story can make the world of difference. Of course Tosh and Owen die the next day but it wasn’t a waste. Now you cared when they died because you knew a little bit more. Killing them was harsh but fair. The show was sluggish – weighted down by too many people and subplots needing airtime. At least they went out with a bang and two amazing performances.
Watching Torchwood COE I thought WOW they’ve actually got the balance right. They have carefully backtracked. Gwen is better suited and better written as a kick ass action hero who’s happily married with the slight complication of a baby on the way. Bringing in Rhys for a bit of light comic relief was a stroke of genius. PC Andy though is still sadly under used. Jack is a lot darker which is great because being buried alive for a few hundred years isn’t something you should take lightly. Ianto’s puppy love for Jack feels genuine. (However Ianto’s speech in the radio play “The Dead Line” was far superior to the “Bloody Beans” scene) The introduction of Rihanna and Alice brings a new depth to Ianto/Jack but are both pretty great characters in their own right. Ianto’s Brother-in-law in fact stole the show for a brief few moments. Torchwood 3 has three members, that we are finally getting to explore, who are finally stable with great chemistry. The storyline is epic – creepy alien wants 10% of the kiddies while Torchwood is down but not out thanks too the dodgy government (the Doctor should of let Harriet Jones stay in charge we wouldn’t of had a recession or 4 dead PM’s and the year that never was).
Another reason I was looking forward to this week was because I was going to see the new Harry Potter film (will post review after Irish Premier on Monday or link from my Film Blog) but that actually left me cold. I’ll explain why in a tick but I’ll say Torchwood cheered me up considerably after my disappointment. Then last night in my opinion RTD threw it away – he killed off Ianto. This not only made me cry buckets but also got me highly annoyed. His death was bloody useless. It hadn’t a scratch on Tosh or Owens’s death last year in terms of emotion. Jack didn’t even say I love you back? That’s so rude? Buffy was polite enough to tell Spike she loved him when he was dying to save the world?
Now we are stuck between a rock and a hard place. You can’t bring Ianto back to life – it’ll be silly? But how is a S4 possible with just Gwen (who people were coming around to but now will just resent her and blame her for RTD killing off Ianto) and an even darker Jack with some tag along minor characters from Children of Earth or Who rejects like Martha. It’s like your in the middle painting something and it’s going to be your best work and then someone comes in and pours black paint over it. Why start again? It’s ruined.
The one good thing was at least it affected me and everyone I know who liked the show – the last minutes of the latest Harry Potter I should of being crying like my new puppy got run down but it fell short. It was limp. Torchwood was able to deliver that heart-wrecking blow that has me talking and thinking of Torchwood the next day. It’ll go down in popular TV History with powerful scenes such as Buffy stabbing Angel and sending him to hell or Jen dying in Dawson’s Creek not because the scene was particularly good but for the love of a character.
However killing off everyone’s favorite character whilst shocking and even interesting isn’t either clever or brave. Like Ianto accompanying Jack to visit the Alien to tell them “not one single child” without a back up plan or counter threat or the common sense to run for a suit or even to open the air lock to shot it might well prove to be a fatal move.