Monday, January 28, 2008

“Excuse me, have you seen a blowfish driving a sports car?”: Torchwood











I don’t know that I’ll be writing about every episode of Torchwood’s second season, even with the lack of other new material to cover. It never feels like there’s much to write about with this show. With its first season, the heavier episodes were too limp to warrant in-depth analysis, while the more frivolous affairs were too light to say much about. Although the first two episodes of Torchwood's new season are a vast improvement over its last, I fear a similar situation will unfold. Hopefully Torchwood will maintain its strong start and keep my interest.

Anyway. Torchwood’s second season opener, ‘Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang,’ is the most frivolous episode the show has yet produced. It begins with the triumphant return of Captain Jack, who announces himself by shooting an evil blowfish alien through the eyeballs. The story speeds along quickly – there are a couple confrontations about Jack’s absence, but the majority of the action is devoted to Captain John (guest star James Marsters) a renegade time agent and former friend of Jack’s. It’s a nice story to ease into the new season with, and works as a starting point for new viewers as well. The scenes between Jack and John are the most fun, though disappointingly few and far between. Other bits are weaker – John and Gwen are tiresome together, Marsters seeming bored when playing against Eve Myles (whose strengths do not lie in humor).

Chris Chibnall’s energetic script barely pauses for breath, masking its several ludicrous turns (paralyzing lip gloss?). I didn’t buy that Jack or the team would ever trust John in the first place, much less split up to search for the canisters based entirely on his word. John’s character was also muddled – at some points we weren’t supposed to trust a word he said, but at others Chibnall obviously intended us to believe and take emotional resonance from his lines when, based on what we knew of the character, they could easily have been lies (for instance, his telling Jack the time agency was shut down, and his emotional responses when his plans were thwarted). Marsters was charismatic as usual, but I hope his next appearance will shed a lot more light on his character.

Still, I admit that none of these criticisms prayed on my mind when I first watched the episode. It’s a fun ride - just one that doesn't stand up to inspection. Maybe the best thing to do is just to not inspect too closely, especially in the case of a generally unsutble show like Torchwood. As long as it remains entertaining, that's good enough.

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