Saturday, July 18, 2009

torchwood redux: everything changes and day one

It's been ages since I watched season one of Torchwood, and last night H and D finally agreed to start watching, so we did the first two eps.

Season one is a whole lot of fun, but is kind of marked by being inconsistent. These two episodes establish that right off the bat: Ep1 is really solid, a great introduction to how the world works and how the show differs from Doctor Who, and Ep2 is just sort of silly and a little loose around the plot.

Everything Changes brings us Police Constable Gwen Cooper, decked out in all her unflattering uniformed glory, stumbling upon Torchwood and, being the good cop that she is, not letting it slide. She watches them bring someone back to life, and she wants to know how. She meets and alien, and she wants to know why. They walk in and out of her life, and she wants to know what they're up to. And it's great. I love Gwen. Right from the beginning, she doesn't put up with any crap from Jack, and even when she's entirely overwhelmed and more than a little scared, she stands up for herself and keeps following through, and tries to get them to be helpful to the city they live in, rather than just being these amoral others that don't care that crimes are being committed.

Jack is charming as always, but he's overlaid some of the cockiness of his first appearance in the world with some sort of secret knowledge of how things happen, with the understanding that he can't die (which is first shown here, in this first ep, after Parting of the Ways but before his return to the Tardis at the end of season 3)-- and with the steadying influence of this team that he leads and harasses and believes in. I like Grownup Captain Jack-- and I like that he's still a little smarmy, a lot irreverent, and not terribly secretive about the fact that he isn't normal, while still leaving most of the details to the imagination.

And the team is pretty great right off the bat. Owen is a creep, but he knows what he's talking about, Tosh is a bit of a prude, but in a wobbly and shy sort of way, Ianto is the best butler on the planet and always seems slightly amused by the wholw world, and Suzie-- I love Indira Varma. She can make even a little part like Suzie so great. And I know what happens next, but I'm not telling the boys.

Day One is... not so great. Gwen's in over her head, which is understandable, and she's pretty much the best part of the episode. The premise is silly: a space-druggy goes after orgasm energy because it's "the best hit in the galaxy" and goes about killing people to get it. Blah. Lots of gratuitous sex. Double Blah. There's better later. But Gwen's the one that accidentally lets it out into the world, and she's the one that figures out how to fix her problems. I love when chicks do things for themselves in TV. She's not a companion, and though she's the viewer's way in like one, she's more than capable of getting by on her own, of making do with what she has, and getting the job done in the best way possible. Excellent.

Jack has "life to spare" and can give it away if he needs to, and that's something interesting. but the best part is after it's all over when Gwen kisses Jack-- and gets him off-guard. That doesn't happen much, and the way he reacts shows (me, anyway) that he's not cocky and confident all the way down, and that's more interesting.

Who knows when we'll watch more, but I'm happy to review it all, even if D didn't like it.

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