It’s Just A Name These Days

Ricky Young has 33 questions about Torchwood that Russell T. Davies MUST ANSWER

"The plot of the fourth series is written ... here!"

Oh, what exquisite pain it is to be a Torchwood fan. You’ve certainly put us through the wringer over the years, Mr. Davies. Designed as a taboo-busting, Who-flavoured love-letter to US genre shows, Torchwood has survived on its energy and charm, all the while maintaining fairly elastic relationships with taste, sense and quality. From body-horror one week to existential pondering the next, the first two series were the very best sort of mixed bag, going from thrilling to infuriating, often in the space of one episode.

The third series, Children of Earth, amplified this tendency, shooting for epic and very nearly making it, before the last episode drowned in a sea of belm. For the latest series, Torchwood is now a co-production with the US cable network Starz, and at the end of the sixth of ten episodes, even the most ardent fan could be forgiven for having a few questions about – and yeah, in true Torchwood style, we won’t hold back here – what the living fuck is going on. So here’s just a few…

Why has top-billed omni-sexual 51st-century Time Agent Captain Jack Harkness, a man who has lived for thousands of years, is a fixed point in time and is vanquisher of some of the universe’s most hideous foes, been sidelined as a sleazy, shifty little scrote who sidles up to extras, making the occasional dismal poof-joke?

This man once felt up Billie Piper, while standing on top of his invisible space-ship in the middle of the Blitz. Now look at him.

Why the rigmarole with the Winston Out Of Ghostbusters’ secretary? Five whole minutes of screen-time, for nothing? Jack could have just walked up to WOOG and started talking.

Why did Winston Out Of Ghostbusters tell the It’s Bigger Than You Can Know story three times? Once to tell it, once to tell it again slowly, then a third time to recap? It’s big, yes, we GET it!

Why did Winston Out Of Ghostbusters say anything to Jack at all? He was going to dump the secretary anyway!

Why did Winston Out Of Ghostbusters’ wife call the cops?

Council of Ministers, Italy, 90s, blah, blah, blah – if you’re going to have a damn Ghostbuster sit there and bare-facedly spout exposition, why don’t you actually tell us something?

Why did Gwen assume Leila out of Hollyoaks knew about the ovens?

Why hasn’t Gwen’s ass been arrested at this point?

How, in fact, does Gwen know that they’re ovens? She doesn’t have proof, she’s only guessed. Rex knows they’re ovens, but they haven’t been in contact. Rex can only make-it-all-about-him into a huge (for a secret agent) camcorder.

Why didn’t telling Leila out of Hollyoaks about the ovens get Gwen’s ass arrested?

How come Gwen thought three whole minutes being a totally sanctimonious bitch to a low-level functionary with no power was a good use of her time?

Where does Gwen get off thinking she’s better than anyone?

Think you’re better than us, do you, love?

Why is the medical profession going along with all the burning, by the way? Where’s Ben Goldacre when you need him? Man, he’d be getting trademark pissy about this one.

Why hasn’t the media cottoned on, either, pre-stolen-footage? Because they anticipate the frankly unbelievable we-don’t-care-what-you-think from ALL THE GOVERNMENTS IN THE WORLD? Why should that stop concerned reporters everywhere?

Where did Gwen get her form-fitting leather escape-catsuit? She entered the camp in a nurse’s uniform.

How did she get out of the camp so easily? Especially as she was seen with Rhys? And of course, the easiest time to steal high explosives, blow shit up and then escape is right after you’ve been made by top-secret death-camp guards.

Also, didn’t this series start with Gwen and Rhys in hiding? How can either of them lumber about like they do, in secure areas, without anyone giving a shit?

During Rhys’ conversation with Death-Camp Functionary Who Looked Like The Silent Singer Out Of Psychoville, did all time in the universe threaten to loop back upon itself, trapping everyone watching in some hideous recursive paradox involving a jowly man and a big green lorry? (Answer: ‘so it seems’)

What exactly did Gwen blow up so professionally? The gas tanks for the ovens? Isn’t that a massive, massive risk for everyone inside?

Gwen saying ‘Here’s the proof’? <BOOM!>. Proof of what? That she’s a terrorist? Is that going to help anything?

How are all these people getting on long-haul flights all the time, with nobody questioning them? Ah, is it the Magic Of The Blue-Hued Torchwood Computers? If so, bollocks to that.

In the bathroom/contact-lens finale, why did she jump back like a fucking idiot when it said ‘Bring Us Jack?’ Is that noticeably worse than ‘we have your adorable, rosy-cheeked baby?’

Why should we care who wants Jack? – we don’t know who’s running the show, if anyone. At this point, there’s been no set-up to the villains at all, no threat to work against.

But was that they would want Jack really that much of a surprise to anyone? Did RTD actively want the viewers to boot their tellies in at this point? If so, he owes me for a 32” Sony Bravia. Er, I meant 46”, Mr. Davies, if you’re reading this.

Why no Bill Pullman & Lauren Ambrose this week? Oswald Danes’ speeches closed the previous two episodes – could it be his storyline is completely and utterly pointless?

Is it possible, in fact, that Mr. Davies came up with Danes’ opening scene – the not-dying on the execution table one, which is admittedly a nice idea and one that would have sounded just great when pitching the show to American telly executives – and loved that idea so much that he was then stuck with the character for the rest of the series?

‘Hey, Bill, thanks for taking the role. Now, we’d like you to say your lines as if you’re simultaneously trying to hold in a mouthful of frozen peas. That good with you?’

Unless Chris Langham is hosting the next series of Strictly and nobody’s told me, could it be that Oswald Danes’ rehabilitation from murdering nonce to celebrated prophet is pushing the bounds of believability?

[Lawyer’s Note: Chris Langham has not been convicted of murder to date.]

Where’s Newman out of Seinfeld gone? He had some great sitting-sweatily-at-a-desk moments and I, for one, would have liked more of Newman out of Seinfeld sitting sweatily at a desk.

Come to think of it, where are all those dudes with The Masks A Bit Like The Ones Out Of V For Vendetta?

Where are the triangle fellas? Are they still, well, just appearing on phones, for some reason, or not? It’s all so very vague.

What the hell was with Ecklie Out Of CSI’s casting, and character? All the straining and grimacing? He’s a nothing, why should anyone care if he’s upset? Or dead? Yes, I know the episode is called ‘The Middle Men’, but so what? Is it a comment on the banality of evil, or something? If so, well, Jeeeeesus.

How did disgraced and on-the-run CIA agent Esther get a job at a top-secret government death-camp under her real name anyway?

What did Esther think she was going to get out of standing in the office with Ecklie out of CSI and Andy Schillinger out of Oz? They just all… stood there, grimacing, for nearly two minutes. Add the standing at the door before, and the standing at the door after, that was nearly four (4) minutes of grimacing. Yeah, I timed it, so what? They all looked as if they were trying to hold in bowel movements. Actually, Ecklie out of CSI might have let a little bit go.

Telling the obvious villain of the piece what a villain he is, that villainy is ultimately unproductive and wrong, and that the villain in question should immediately cease being a villain and become a hero instead – has that worked for Rex before? Why use it now?

How did Rex and Esther get out of a top-secret death-camp in lockdown? With help from a cowardly, shit-scared low-level functionary? How likely is that?

Did we watch a whole hour’s telly, ten-per-cent of the series’ running time, to learn the meaningless-in-and-of-themselves words ‘The Blessing’, and quite literally nothing else? I do believe we did.

And how about the biggest question of all – why am I still watching? As ever with Torchwood, it’s a complicated mix of loyalty, affection and shared embarrassment. Plus, I’d quite like Owen to turn up from the afterlife and use his space-rohypnol on Rex. It would serve the annoying bastard right.

Ricky is on ‘The Tweeter’, and is probably mid-belm as we speak.

4 thoughts on “It’s Just A Name These Days

  1. Brilliant! I feel the same, why am i still watching this? Need to know how it ends now, and never speak of it again! :)

  2. “I’d quite like Owen to turn up from the afterlife”
    When did Owen die? Did I blank out at that point (understandable really, the way the show’s been going) or did you meant Ianto?

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