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Torchwood

Discussion in 'TV Shows' started by Nettdata, Aug 10, 2011.

  1. Nettdata

    Nettdata
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    Mr. Toast

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    This is another BBC series that has some crossover with the new Dr. Who, and is in it's 4th season.

    This year they've opted to go with one big-ass story arc rather than a bunch of little one or two episode stories.

    While I've always didn't hate it, this season is following a pretty interesting concept and has hooked me deeper with each show.

    Anyone else watching it?

    BURN OVENS!?!?!? SERIOUSLY!?!?!? Holy Concentration Camp batman!
     
  2. DrFrylock

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    Yes after all the advertising I decided to watch it as I'm into story-arc based Sci-Fi and I miss LOST.

    I really want to like this show, but it is fighting me at every turn. I haven't watched any of the previous Torchwood shows, so maybe I should have connected with these characters in some previous episodes, where they had actual personalities? I don't know. They certainly don't have any now.

    All I kept reading before this is Captain Jack Harkness this and Captain Jack Harkness that. Oh, the Doctor might be a man of mindful planning, but Captain Jack Harkness is a man of action! Where's the action? The guy is doing his best impression of Mark Harmon from NCIS through the whole show. LOOK AT ME I AM ALOOF AND MYSTERIOUS AND VERY VERY SERIOUS. THEREFORE I MUST BE SMART AND LEADERLIKE.

    The reason we know he is a little bit more fun than Gil Grissom I mean Mark Harmon is that he goes out and cruises for dudes and brings them home. This neither develops his character nor advances the plot really, but we see it anyway. It's like RTD is scrolling a big sign across the screen saying "SEE BRITISH PEOPLE ARE NOT ALL STODGY AND CONSERVATIVE! WE CAN SHOW TEH GAYSEX BECAUSE IT'S TOTALLY NOT A BIG DEAL!" That is awesome, really, but we don't get to see Gwen banging her average-looking husband, or her average-looking husband dropping the deuce in the loo. Those are completely average and unimportant things that happen to these characters too. But we don't see those. If the writers want to show whatever, fine, but at least spend a modicum of time coming up with a clever way to use those moments to advance the plot or let us learn more about the characters.

    In his aloof leader role, at least Gil Grissom I mean Mark Harmon can at least issue orders and explain the plan to his people. Jack wanders around like he knows more than everybody else what's going on, but just sort of randomly runs around doing shit without telling anybody where he's going or working out a coherent plan. He's like fucking Gandalf from the Hobbit. "OK we're in mortal danger. Bilbo, stick with the dwarves who hate you while I disappear for 300 pages. See you later. Hopefully."

    Gwen's character is un-understandable. I am just now reading her character bio on Wikipedia and apparently this is intentional. She is alternatively: the audience surrogate, the girl-next-door, the policewoman from a police procedural, the Scully, the loyal wife, the mother figure, the damsel-in-distress, the militant rocket-launcher-blow-shit-up babe, and the double agent. No wonder the actress playing her has no ability to convey a clear motivation (or the underlying emotion) for nearly any scene.

    Her husband Rhys is the worst type of emasculated male archetype from every Lifetime Movie of the Week ever. I know we are supposed to identify with him because he is a nice guy caught up in a world he doesn't fully understand. But the nicer he is, the more useless he is. His MO: sit around and wander into stupidity and danger while waiting to hear from his wife what he should be doing. I imagine if Uma Thurman from Kill Bill had actually married Tommy the Texan (or whoever she was going to marry when Bill showed up and shot everybody), this is what their marriage would have been like.

    Mekka Lekka Hi Mekka Heinie Pfrise Pfister is clearly playing RTD's impression of a typical American. Loud, angry, militant, willing to use force at every turn, proudly ignorant of everything going on, and willing to jump into the leadership role without having the faintest clue what the fuck the deal is. Mekka Pfister manically cycles between exactly two emotions: cavalier and angry/in pain. Neither of these is appropriate for any situation he's in.

    An Aside:
    Jack: Welcome to Torchwood!
    Mekka: There is no Torchwood!
    Gwen: Welcome to Torchwood!
    Mekka: I ain't getting involved with no Torchwood because there is no Torchwood!
    Jack: But welcome to Torchwood!
    Useless blonde chick: Welcome to Torchwood!
    Gwen: Torchwood!
    Mekka: There is no Torchwood!
    Jack: Torchwood!

    Did RTD get $100 every time someone on the show said the word Torchwood? I think they said "The X-Files" once every 20 episodes of The X-Files. To anybody who has not watched the show up to this point, Torchwood means absolutely nothing. It's not an ideal, it's not an organization, it's not an attitude, it's not a legacy, it's a couple of whiny people who constantly wave their dicks around claiming they are better than the FBI, CIA, MI6, NSA, etc. etc. because they "identify as Torchwood." Whatever tragedy befell Torchwood before this season that caused there to be nobody left in it: good.

    There is a forgettable blonde chick on the show. I vaguely remember her being on previous episodes of the show, but she was all over it this week. This week, she
    was the worst undercover agent in the history of undercover agents. She is supposed to be some kind of CIA analyst, and she couldn't even fake being a secretary for three hours. She was more conspicuous than a naked woman walking into the men's bathroom at a stadium during a football game with a monkey hanging out of her vagina dancing and shaking maracas.

    Finally, the overall plot of the show. I love the main conceit - that on one day, everybody just stops dying (but not aging, getting injured - often seriously - etc.) The consequences of that are global but not entirely clear at the outset. And of course, there's bound to be a Conspiracy Behind It All, which provides the main "mystery box" to be opened by the show. But the way the whole plot plays out lives in a very uncanny valley for me - it's just unrealistic enough to be a real turn-off for me.

    This is supposed to be a global phenomenon. Everybody found out about it at the same time, and it's the biggest event ever to happen in the history of humanity. If this really happened, the world would be endlessly consumed in speculation: what caused it? What will the consequences be? What should we do about it? What are the implications for everything we do in our daily lives? Imagine the Casey Anthony trial times a million.

    How does the world of Torchwood react?

    Only about six people seem actually interested in finding out what happened. Seven if we count Winston Zeddemore today.

    Despite the fact that every doctor in the world would be immediately thrust into a mode of contemplating the implications of the event, nobody really seems to have noticed. It takes one random doctor, when an ambulance comes in, to make some Earth-shattering pronouncements that they need to rethink how trauma is dealt with - some days or weeks after the "miracle." The ambulance techs and the other doctors, having been completely retarded up to the moment of her revelations, are all like "oh, stop everything! we must start doing everything in reverse!"

    She even congratulates herself right afterwards, saying something idiotic and grandiose like "wow, I just changed how Trauma is handled forever and ever in the universe." What everybody should have said was "no shit, Sherlock, everything you just said became pretty fucking obvious the minute this happened. We're doctors, not fucking retards. We can do basic logical reasoning too."

    Today we found out that an evil drug company, with the consenting help of thousands of administrators, bureaucrats, doctors, and other people that don't work for them and are not in any way "in" on the plan, managed to deploy concentration camps all over the world practically overnight. Most of these people apparently knew they were building concentration camps but were like "yeah, but that guy over there said, you know, to put the Zyklon B in this canister, so I'm doing it. Because, like, he totally said so."

    I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that it would be very difficult to take thousands of first-world civilians united by no cause, ideology, or military structure and get them to build death camps for you, while also keeping it a perfect secret until they are already set up and running. Just a guess. But again, only the six people from Torchwood and one army dude with a bad haircut seem to be really unhappy that the world was building a bunch of concentration camps. Apparently you can just search for "sociopath" on monster.com and get tons and tons of resumes.

    All of this is done, by the way, before anything bad has happened. The consequence to the actual world of Torchwood thus far has been that there are a lot more sick people who are suffering but not dying, and this is overloading the health care system. Ultimately, of course, the health-care system doesn't have to do jack shit, because what are people going to do, die? All they need to do is start growing poppies as fast as they can - Morphine drips for everybody. Any actual crisis like a lack of food (again, what are people going to do, starve to death?) is months or years away. There is no shortage of Cheez-Its at the Torchwood supermarket yet. I guess denial doesn't exist in the world of Torchwood like it does in this one. In the world of Torchwood, everybody probably abandoned their cars as soon as global warming was discovered.

    One of the themes of the show, we found out today, was the banality of evil and the problems with bureaucracies. That's a great theme. The world is deluged in complex, inscrutable bureaucracies. Great fodder for social commentary in a sci-fi show. Except the bureaucracies in the world of Torchwood only exist when it's convenient for the plot. You know what would happen if the Miracle really happened? Total analysis paralysis of the entire Western society for months. It'd take two months just to get the committees to organize other committees going. People would be guessing their asses off and making arbitrary decisions arbitrarily. Congress would have their shorts in a knot for a month. Every major agency would prepare and fumblingly execute a questionably-effective plan that would be contradictory to that of nearly every other agency. None of this is evident. A few doctors meet ad-hoc in Washington with no guidance and nobody to report to up the chain of command. Anybody with an MD can apparently waltz into the meeting uninvited. Ridiculous.

    RTD et al. are trying to make the show half-American, but what they've actually done is made it half what-British-people-think-Americans-are like. Six episodes in and nary a mention of the massive religious upheaval that would cause about 50% of actual Americans to go into an ecstatic rapture-ready orgy? Newsflash to Brits: your harmless watered-down Anglican agnosticism is not what we have here.

    Total missed opportunity. They have Bill Pullman playing an ex-pedophile who, for no particular reason, comes to be some kind of cult figurehead without a message or anything, really, to bind his cult together. What they should have done is have him find Jesus and start a megachurch, the megachurch of the Miracle. Kind of like a slightly subverted Rick Warren. Having Lauren Ambrose whore herself out to be the PR person for the megachurch would have presented plenty of opportunities for biting social commentary - PR for churches! And drug companies at the same time! Advertising both the literal and figurative opium for the masses. But the wishy-washy Brit agnostics can't understand religion, so they can't write it into their show.

    Anyway, a healthy dose of realism and direction would do this show some good. Clumsily-wielded social commentary that's about as subtle and nuanced as a Jack Chick tract is not helping me enjoy this. I'll stick around for the big reveal at the end, but honestly if all the characters in the show died in a nuclear firestorm next week I wouldn't be upset in the least.
     
  3. DrFrylock

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    I am reading more about these characters on Wikipedia, and their creators describe characters that are not actually in the show. The creators apparently had these grand archetypes and complex notions about these characters: that Gwen would jump into certain archetypes and then abandon them to shake up the notions that characters fit archetypes, or that Captain Jack Harkness is somehow representative of moral ambiguity, as opposed to Mekka Pfrice Pfister, who is representative of moral absolutism. Protip, guys: none of this is coming out on the screen.

    The reason I loved LOST is that they took a basic premise about how people would react in an unfamiliar situation and then let it play out realistically. You have a bunch of people of various backgrounds thrust into a weird-ass situation together, how do they handle it? 1) Their backgrounds influence how they handle it, and 2) they spend their time trying to survive and basically do the right thing, given vastly imperfect and incomplete information.

    Every character on LOST was like that, and the great conflicts and tension came when different characters' impressions of what the "right thing" is conflicted. Jack was an insecure leader, and tried to use reason and logic to decide the next course of action. Locke was an insecure leader for different reasons, and tried to look for signs to tell him what the right thing was. Ben Linus, the greatest character ever on TV, was privileged with much special information, and this made him firmly believe that the ends were so important that they could justify any means. Even if he didn't himself fully understand those ends. Other characters tried to use the opportunity to reinvent themselves or redeem themselves, and made decisions based on that. Bernard and Rose had to try to convince themselves that the "right thing" (at least for them) was to excuse themselves from trying to solve the mysteries of the universe and eventually just accept them and live as happily as possible.

    The characters in Torchwood seem to lack a clear idea of what they're doing. Some characters are just evil because the plot requires them to be evil. What is Jack and Gwen's motivation for investigating the miracle? Because they're curious? Because there's an evil plot to unfold? Because they have a personal stake in understanding it? It's all of the above, and none of the above. Great characters have clear, explicable motivations.

    LOST is wonderful because even the villains, it turns out, are not actually evil, they just have a very screwed up idea about what's good, and in each case there's a reason why that's true. It's a simple way to structure things and would have made Torchwood a lot better.
     
  4. originalglenn

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    if youre even half liking this
    you should check out torchwood children of earth
     
  5. Veovis

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    Disturbed

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    Children of earth was season 3 i think. I don't like Torchwood as good as Dr Who but do get a kick out JAck HArkness. IF you are just watching season 4 now, then it will seem like he's not really doing much, but if you watch the rest and the DR who episodes he's in it pretty good and you get a better feel for the character.
     
  6. DrFrylock

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    The writing on this latest episode is shit. Shitty shit. Shitty shit shit.
     
  7. iczorro

    iczorro
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    Emotionally Jaded

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    See, I love Doctor Who so much, and I've heard that this series is a super pale, more risque version. But from what I've read here, it's not even a version, it's just shit.

    Why are you still watching though, if it sucks so much? Completion fan?
     
  8. DrFrylock

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    There are three episodes left and I have to see how they resolve the core mystery. Thank God this is not a multiple-season affair.
     
  9. Veovis

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    It's also like when reading a bad book, I have to read it to finish it. Call it OCD or whatever, but I need endings.
     
  10. DrFrylock

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    Last episode tomorrow. They only have every plot thread in the entire 9 episodes so far to tie up. In an hour. Let's try to guess how many of those will be unsatisfactorily tied up or just left hanging.

    My theory:

    Jack's blood was dropped into the giant Earth vagina causing the planet to undergo a reverse-menstruation process that caused the miracle. Also, aliens.
     
  11. Nettdata

    Nettdata
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    Mr. Toast

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    Yeah yeah yeah, we get it. You find it lacking. It doesn't meet your "Lost" criteria for being watchable.
     
  12. DrFrylock

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    About 8 episodes really didn't. But I have to admit, the finale was actually surprisingly good. If 7 of the 10 episodes were as good as the finale, this would have been an awesome series.

    As one small example, we finally learned exactly one fact about the Gwen's Dad character's life, which is one more fact than we learned in the previous 9 episodes. He was basically a prop in the last 9 episodes. Turning him into an actual character gives Gwen some motivation to do something.

    A lot of things were very proplike. The whole Oswald Danes plotline - we spent like 5 episodes on that, and the sum-total payoff was that he decided to sacrifice himself in the end, which was the most obvious possible conclusion? Sad trombone.

    I thought the action and the pacing were in good form tonight. Finally, something actually happened on the show. That was very good. I even felt a little emotion at the end when Rex and Jack realized what had to be done. That was also very good. Gwen didn't annoy the fuck out of me, either. I still don't understand her motivations for doing anything, but they made slightly more sense today. I actually got kind of interested in the show today, which sucks because it's over for now. I might have been convinced to watch the next season. Maybe.

    Glad They're Dead:
    • Annoying Blonde #1
    • Annoying Blonde Sarah Jessica Parker Lookalike
    • Worst Doctor Evar.

    Should Have Been Killed Off:
    • Lauren Ambrose
    • Mekka Lekka Hai
    • Reese's Peanut Butter Cup

    Should have Survived:
    • Q
    • Lonestar

    I am a little surprised as to how much they didn't wrap up. I guess they're going for a multi-season mytharc after all?
     
  13. rei

    rei
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    Pretty sure RTD is calling it quits on scifi <a class="postlink" href="http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/107548-Torchwood-Creator-Walking-Away-From-Sci-Fi" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;">http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/vi ... rom-Sci-Fi</a> but not sure what that says for Torchwood.