Sunday, October 22, 2006


So, I just watched the opening double-bill of BBC's new DR WHO spin-off, TORCHWOOD on BBC3. Well, for a start, I stick on the telly and start watching, and BOOM! a copper drops the f-bomb! Woah! Actual, proper cursing in DR WHO! Cus that's what this is really, just an extension of the motherseries, a way to keep its unstoppable cultural bandwagon ticking over, and keep its production team together, without risking over-exposure to its core concepts. In the beginning, I was tallying up the in-continuity references between this pilot and its parent show. I stopped halfway through at seven. I'm watching this, then, as basically DR WHO without The Doctor. In some ways, the existence of this series proves that DR WHO is no longer the kid's show certain BBC execs think it is. TORCHWOOD is a valediction of sorts for the fandom: those who grew up with it, and feel a degree of ownership of it. Here it is - the adult DR WHO you thought you deserved. God help the parents of any persistant members of the new generation of WHO fans Davies and his team have created, who after hours of pestering, allowed them to sit up and see a torrent of cursing, blood-letting, and rough shagging in nightclub toilets.

What struck me about the first episode was how it was ultimately exactly the sodding same as Russell T Davies' first DR WHO episode, ROSE: a young, working class, woman with a really great ass is initiated by a mysterious stranger into a secret world of alien weirdness and sudden violent death, and leaves her mundane world for his. Still, it proved so popular on the first iteration you can hardly blame him, only this time there were fewer lurches in tone as ROSE, where he seemed to be trying to figure out who he was aiming the show at on the fly (no belching carniverous bins, for a start).

The second episode, as if to stamp the series' credentials as thoroughly adult into the viewer with dirty great jackboots, was a hoary old "alien parasite as STD" metaphor, with extra lashings of sociological commentary on how empty and dehumanizing the sexualization of our culture really is, maan: cue our infected (needless to mention - hot) young female victim looking dazed by a montage of perfume and underwear billboards).

The number one irritant, though is the neverending, relentless, bloody welshness of it. The Welsh: the least convincing science fiction protagonists since, I dunno, the cast of flippin' STARGATE or sumfin'. We get it: Russell loves his hometown. Great, but just watch out, in case the show becomes too parochial to travel outside Cardiff.


RAB said...

Haven't seen this yet, but the continuity references I've heard about from so many people sound like they might be problematic later on. DW still maintains a position of being family friendly...and I'm sure no one wants a repeat of the whole "Hey kids, enjoy this issue of Justice League Unlimited? Part two of the story appears in Vertigo's Warren Ellis Transmetropolitan Christmas Sodomy and Sadism Special" scenario.

Mark said...

Exactly. If anything from this series feeds directly into the next series of DR WHO, there'll be a lot of confused kids out there.

Anonymous said...

didnae see it. don't have that digital thang going, and was caught doing summat else when i twas repeated on bbc2 a few days later. probably strumming in the shed. or smoking out there. maybe both. literally and metaphorically.

taffys don't float my boat either.

what about that "am i bothered" bird? noticed she's got some non-iron characters? she's good at the voices but the skits are shite. leslie philips as the old codger. "fucking liberty!"