The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Torch Team

Never been quite sure about Torchwood.

Started off on a bad note. The original BBC press release (which Russell T Davies has disowned) described it as ‘dark, wild and sexy’ and ‘The X-Files meets This Life’. Which gives you no idea of what the show will be like and yet makes it sound wretched at the same time.

I was extremely impressed by the opening episode, by Russell T Davies, ‘Everything Changes’, though I couldn’t help noticing it hadn’t quite established the format – we still didn’t know who Torchwood worked for, who paid for it all, or quite how secret this secret organisation was supposed to be.

And for the next two years, that never really got sorted. I didn’t quite know what had hit me after I saw ‘Day One’ and by the time we got to ‘Cyberwoman’ and ‘Countrycide’ I’d stopped taking it seriously. Even the better episodes seemed curiously muddled (PJ Hammond’s ones) or were reinventing the wheels of science fiction and giving us plots that were over-familiar, not just from Buffy and Angel, but from fifty-year-old Twilight Zone episodes. Plus there was an ever-present sense of adolescent misanthropy, as though the show was designed for teenage boys who fast forward to moments of sex and gore. The characters seemed unlikeable too, all selfish and glib.

Series two was a improvement, particularly ‘Reset’ and ‘Dead Man Walking’, though it still felt like it had a wobbly wheel, and I think I was enjoying it more because I was skipping all the Chris Chibnall episodes.

But series three has been terrific. A massive, well-deserved success. At last it has become the show that I was looking forward to after ‘Everything Changes’. Now it has Russell T Davies' humanity, humour and intelligence behind it.

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