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You are here: MacNN Forums > Community > MacNN Lounge > Torchwood – It’s Actually Really Good

Torchwood – It’s Actually Really Good
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Koralatov
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Mar 7, 2008, 04:37 PM
 
I watched most of the first season of Torchwood, and I thought it was so-so at best; definitely not on a par with (the admittedly increasingly poor) Doctor Who. As such, I went into the new season with pretty low expectations. It turns out that it’s improved immeasurably. Granted, the first few episodes were a bit slow, but it really hit its stride with “Adam”—I was genuinely enthralled by it.

Whilst not all the of the cast are fantastic, John Barrowman really steals the show as Captain Jack Harkness. He manages to to combine humour and gravitas in a way that I always felt eluded David Tennant as Doctor Who. Harkness’ relationship with Ianto, and the complicated love-triangle he’s involved in with Gwen are really well written, and there’s no sensationalism over his bisexuality. Overall, I’d say it’s the BBC’s best production since the first season of the resurrected Doctor Who. (I really liked Christopher Eccleson, but really don’t like Tennant.)

Anyone else hooked on Torchwood?
     
Cold Warrior
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Mar 7, 2008, 04:44 PM
 
I'm about 3/4 of the way through season 1. It's ok so far. I'm glad you're liking season 2; it's incentive for me to get through 1 and onto 2.
     
Andrew Stephens
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Mar 7, 2008, 04:49 PM
 
Season 2 kicks season ones ass big time. S1 was very very patchy with some real drek (slike cyberwoman) but S2 has been pretty much end to end good stuff.

Liking dead Owen. A lot.
     
Big Mac
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Mar 7, 2008, 04:53 PM
 
I got into it casually when I saw it both times I was on Jet Blue this January. Not a big fan of all the depictions of homosexuality (just not a fan of that stuff, sorry), but it's a pretty good show.

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
     
vmarks
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Mar 7, 2008, 04:55 PM
 
Eccleston and Tennant are both quite good, but you have to accept that their portrayals of the Doctor will not be the same. The characters are written differently.

Barrowman is excellent on Doctor Who - the writing there really does his character justice.

In Torchwood, he's written differently, and is a flimsy parody of his character on Doctor Who.

Torchwood season 2 is so far pretty weak. Alien babies on wedding days, dead man walking in the form of main characters, it's just painful. The best episode of season 1 was the one where the woman pilot from 60 years ago came through the rift and Owen Harper's character seemed a little less flat for it. Time travel is hard to do right, and that episode got it. The best episode in season 2 so far is the one where Tosh has to wake up the WWI shell-shocked soldier, and her character gets a little less flat.

That's about the sum of it. The rest is polluted by bad writing for Jack and the rest, and the dumb fixation on trying to develop Ianto's character and copping out by making him bi with Jack. (He's bi, because remember, in season 1 he had a girl cyberman for a girlfriend in the basement of the hub.) I don't care if he is bi, but it's a cop out to presume that sending him out in the rangerover and kiss jack somehow develops his character - yes, he's doing more than making coffee - no, he's still not 3 dimensional. But the rest of the cast are cardboard cutouts as well.

I'm waiting for more Doctor Who episodes.
     
Koralatov  (op)
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Mar 7, 2008, 05:08 PM
 
Originally Posted by Cold Warrior View Post
I'm about 3/4 of the way through season 1. It's ok so far. I'm glad you're liking season 2; it's incentive for me to get through 1 and onto 2.
It’s definitely worth persevering with; it begins to pick up toward the end of the first season (the episode “Captain Jack Harkness” is particularly good) and, as Andrew Stephens said, season two really is of a high calibre. I just hope they can keep up such a high standard—Battlestar Galactica took a bit of a dip mid-season two, but thankfully picked up from there.

Can you edit this thread’s title to include “spoiler” in it somewhere, please? I just realised that people coming into it who aren’t up to date might read things they’d rather not. Thanks.

Originally Posted by Andrew Stephens View Post
Liking dead Owen. A lot.
You mean he’s actually dead, and stays dead? The last episode I saw was the one where he died, so I don’t know what happens after that. I was never a huge fan of his character anyway, so his being dead isn’t a major issue to me.

 
     
andi*pandi
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Mar 7, 2008, 05:13 PM
 
I'm not feeling compelled to watch, this season. I have a backlog on the tiFaux to catch up on. I guess I'd rather not have the soap-opera stuff--and you're right, Capt Jack was much better written on Who.
     
Koralatov  (op)
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Mar 7, 2008, 05:39 PM
 
Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
I got into it casually when I saw it both times I was on Jet Blue this January. Not a big fan of all the depictions of homosexuality (just not a fan of that stuff, sorry), but it's a pretty good show.
I’m neither here nor there on the show’s homosexuality; it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I do like the fact that it’s not treated as somehow sensationalist or shocking—it’s just there, much like it is in real life. It could have been all too easy to make it a shock-factor way of upping ratings.

Originally Posted by vmarks View Post
Eccleston and Tennant are both quite good, but you have to accept that their portrayals of the Doctor will not be the same. The characters are written differently.
I accept that they’re different characters, and written differently, but I never really liked Tennant’s portrayal of Doctor Who. Eccleston had gravitas and depth, and looked like a man carrying the weight of the universe (and the death of his entire race) on his shoulders. Tennant, on the other hand, is bipolar to a ludicrous extreme—one second he’s happy-go-lucky and manic, the next he’s exceptionally stern and burdened. Overall, I feel that there’s too much goof in Tennant’s Doctor and not enough earnestness. It’s a personal preference, but one that prevents me from fully enjoying the current seasons of Doctor Who.

Barrowman is excellent on Doctor Who - the writing there really does his character justice.

In Torchwood, he's written differently, and is a flimsy parody of his character on Doctor Who.
I only really saw Harkness in season one of Doctor Who, and I liked what I saw. I don’t think that he’s descended into parody in Torchwood, though. Whilst there are weak spots in the writing, overall, I think Harkness has become quite an interesting character, and is developing really well; his unrevealed past is a major hook for me in Torchwood, and I genuinely think he’s portrayed as a rounded, complicated character.

Torchwood season 2 is so far pretty weak. Alien babies on wedding days, dead man walking in the form of main characters, it's just painful. The best episode of season 1 was the one where the woman pilot from 60 years ago came through the rift and Owen Harper's character seemed a little less flat for it. Time travel is hard to do right, and that episode got it. The best episode in season 2 so far is the one where Tosh has to wake up the WWI shell-shocked soldier, and her character gets a little less flat.
I agree with your assessment of the other characters though; with the exception of Gwen, the other three main cast-members don’t really have much depth or development behind them. Hopefully, that will change over the course of the second season.

As for Torchwood’s general stretching of a viewer’s suspension of disbelief, I tend to approach it with my tongue firmly in cheek, and it doesn’t bother me then. I may enjoy it more if it was slightly more realistic or po-faced, but I do enjoy it as-is. Overall, I think it’s important to take a series like Torchwood on its own terms, and let it stand or fall in that context—ultimately, it comes down to personal preference.
     
Chuckit
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Mar 7, 2008, 05:40 PM
 
I agree with vmarks that this season isn't as good. The characters all feel much more flat. I thought the best episode of season 1 was The Keep Killing Suzie, followed by the one vmarks named with the people lost in time. They need to have more like that, that give us strong characters.
( Last edited by Chuckit; Mar 8, 2008 at 03:02 AM. )
Chuck
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vmarks
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Mar 7, 2008, 08:49 PM
 
Glenn posted in this thread?
     
Teronzhul
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Mar 7, 2008, 09:47 PM
 
He obviously posted using Cardiff's rift in space and time so it just hasn't appeared yet.

Anyway, I enjoy Torchwood almost as much as Dr Who. I think they are overdoing the Bisexuality stuff a bit, as Harkness is just making out with some random character every other episode this season. He just all of a sudden became a huge manwhore.
     
MacNNUK
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Mar 7, 2008, 10:09 PM
 
Tried to watch latest series...

Turned off after first male gay kiss, which wasn't that far in.

Spoils it totally for me.

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OwlBoy
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Mar 8, 2008, 01:47 AM
 
Originally Posted by MacNNUK View Post
Tried to watch latest series...

Turned off after first male gay kiss, which wasn't that far in.

Spoils it totally for me.
(just wondering) why?
     
nredman
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Mar 8, 2008, 09:50 AM
 
My wife and I watch Torchwood - its one of the shows we both like - because of Captain Jack & doctor who - its been good so far this year - i could do without all the gay stuff though

"I'm for anything that gets you through the night, be it prayer, tranquilizers, or a bottle of Jack Daniel's."
     
Peter
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Mar 8, 2008, 12:24 PM
 
needs more Dr Who integration.
we don't have time to stop for gas
     
Oversoul
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Mar 8, 2008, 02:10 PM
 
As a Doctor Who fan, Torchwood just doesn't work for me. The characters are for the most part bumbling idiots who can't separate their own sordid lives and interests from their job of saving the world. Gwen and Owen really irritate me to no end, and Toshiko is just weak. Captain Jack is really the only saving grace on the show, and very often in fact does end up saving the day, his crew, and the planet. I mean, damn, some of the idiotic decisions Torchwood's team members make (i.e., Ianto resurrecting his Cybergirlfriend; Owen opening up the rift against Jack's orders so that he can see his out-of-time girlfriend again; Gwen taking a cowardly approach to resolving her infidelity; and the list goes on) pushes me to wonder why the hell they haven't been fired and if these people are really the best Jack could find. On that level, they're only slightly worse than the crew of Stargate Atlantis.
     
Oversoul
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Mar 8, 2008, 02:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by Teronzhul View Post
Harkness is just making out with some random character every other episode this season. He just all of a sudden became a huge manwhore.
You forget though, Captain Jack Harkness was always a huge manwhore. When they first introduced him in Doctor Who's "The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances" he immediately hit on both Rose and the Doctor. I love John Barrowman's portrayal of Captain Jack, but found the character a bit muted in the first season.
     
ajprice
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Mar 8, 2008, 02:27 PM
 
I'm liking this series too. I think its a good co-series to Doctor Who, they can do things in one that they can't do in the other (in terms of stories/writing), and it works both ways. When I first heard of the Torchwood spin off I did think/fear that they would bring the Dr Who villains into it, but except for the cyberwoman in the first series, the aliens are pretty much unique to each series.

It'll be much easier if you just comply.
     
Chuckit
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Mar 8, 2008, 02:36 PM
 
Originally Posted by Oversoul View Post
You forget though, Captain Jack Harkness was always a huge manwhore. When they first introduced him in Doctor Who's "The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances" he immediately hit on both Rose and the Doctor. I love John Barrowman's portrayal of Captain Jack, but found the character a bit muted in the first season.
I liked that, though. It was interesting character progression. Because he's still playing the same character, but this is Captain Jack a century later. He's grown up. He was more fatherly and less of a playboy.
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Koralatov  (op)
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Mar 8, 2008, 04:07 PM
 
Originally Posted by MacNNUK View Post
Tried to watch latest series...

Turned off after first male gay kiss, which wasn't that far in.

Spoils it totally for me.
Originally Posted by nredman View Post
My wife and I watch Torchwood - its one of the shows we both like - because of Captain Jack & doctor who - its been good so far this year - i could do without all the gay stuff though
Personally, I really don’t see what the issue is here. The fact is, if it was Capt. Jack kissing women, there would be no real issue; as case in point, nobody complained that Captain Kirk was a manwhore, even though the sheer number of his conquests would shame Harkness. The only difference is that Kirk manwhored himself with women, as opposed to Jack’s “all-comers” approach.

Originally Posted by Chuckit View Post
I liked that, though. It was interesting character progression. Because he's still playing the same character, but this is Captain Jack a century later. He's grown up. He was more fatherly and less of a playboy.
I think that assessment is spot-on; he’s been stuck on Earth since 1869, waiting to hook up with the Doctor again. He’s lived through two World Wars, and countless other horrible events—that’s bound to make one more muted/sombre a person. Overall, I like the new Captain Jack, and I’m looking forward to watching him develop and finding out more about his past.
     
Big Mac
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Mar 9, 2008, 05:29 AM
 
I thought it was a bit ridiculous how they chose to allude to Jack's orientation five or six times tonight in the virus episode.

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
     
vmarks
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Mar 9, 2008, 10:19 AM
 
Originally Posted by Chuckit View Post
I liked that, though. It was interesting character progression. Because he's still playing the same character, but this is Captain Jack a century later. He's grown up. He was more fatherly and less of a playboy.
No, that fails on the timeline.

If he's been trapped on Earth since 1869, and -THIS- is the more mature Jack, the sluttish one... no. More mature is when he's in Who.

Consider, Jack rebuilt Torchwood in honor of the Doctor. Jack went to the end of the human race between Torchwood seasons, and returned with Martha and the Doctor, with the nice reveal at the end that he is the Face of Boe. During those episodes, he was flirtatious with Martha one time, and flirtatious with no one else. The Doctor cautioned him with 'don't you start' one time only.

So, Jack is flirty but not sluttish in Who, and ridiculously sluttish in Torchwood.

The only reason I can think for this is that the Doctor's presence tempers Jack's behavior - except that it doesn't work for me, based on who Jack is when the Doctor isn't around (meeting Rose, being left alone with Martha, and other examples I can't think of at the moment.)

Basically, it's two different sets of writers writing Jack, and the Torchwood guys fail at doing as good a job as the Who guys.

The reason is this: It's fine to say you've got this time-agent Jack who saves the world and is attracted to both men and women. Great. Don't mind at all. But please, don't show us him swapping tongue with everyone. Allude to it. Have him flirt. You tell us more about the character by what you -don't- show and leave to the imagination.

The same is true of horror movies - the best ones, the ones that really scare - don't try to do everything in effects - they leave something to the imagination, which can conjure more fear than CGI and makeup.
     
Chuckit
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Mar 9, 2008, 01:06 PM
 
Originally Posted by vmarks View Post
No, that fails on the timeline.

If he's been trapped on Earth since 1869, and -THIS- is the more mature Jack, the sluttish one... no. More mature is when he's in Who.
I was talking about last season. Like I said, they're weirdly screwing up the characters this season.
Chuck
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andi*pandi
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Mar 9, 2008, 01:34 PM
 
I agree with vmarks a bit... different writers, different Jack. I also think Torchwood being aimed at an "older" audience, and being aired post watershed, they are *trying* to be more sexy than Who. Unnecessarily I think.
     
   
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