iTunes just made some BBC shows available here in the States, so I thought (as an occasional and reasonably well-informed Dr. Who admirer) that I’d use the opportunity to take a look.
I. Freaking. Love. Torchwood. Granted, two episodes in, but still.
Fans/Detractors of the show, especially those watching on the Beeb proper: Am I wrong? Will I soon tire of the monster-a-week format, and the constant teasing as to Capt. Jack’s backstory? Or does the show – I hope I hope I hope – evolve as it goes along? I’m afraid I’m busy enough these days that I can’t invest 26 hours into something if it’s gonna crap out on me.
And please, if possible, add Spoiler Alerts. Because it’s polite.
TORCHWOOD (or, as my friends and I call it, SHITSHIT) has pretty much split opinion in half, and people seem to either love it or loathe it.
I think it’s one of the worst, most embarrassing TV exports this country has produced in recent years. It’s laden with plot holes you could fly a Tardis through, characterisation that’s barely consistent from one scene to another (let alone from week to week), massive story continuity errors, and teeth-grindingly bad dialogue. If it wasn’t for the WHO connection, it would have been quietly culled after the pilot.
People who like it will say the complete opposite. Basically, you’ll have to make your own mind up.
On the bright side, they stopped taking themselves quite so seriously in season 2 and played much of it for laughs instead. But it’s still awful.
The creator and exec producer of Torchwood is Russell T Davies, whose prolific, whimsical imagination is also responsible for the revival of Dr Who. When he’s deeply involved, especially when he writes the episode, it’s good.
It strikes me very much as science fiction written by people who haven’t got the faintest idea what science fiction is about, which is why TV and film sf tends to lag behind the written stuff by about 70 years. When you consider how much the TV genre has grown up though, with series like Battlestar Galactica, Torchwood is a depressingly juvenile throwback to the post-Quatermass early 70s, as is Dr Who. I know people who like both because it confirms their prejudices that SF is for kids (on several occasions they’ve told me that they don’t like SF that’s ‘serious’, they prefer it silly, as it should be).
I’m on the hate side too. Ignoring the soaps, I think it is close to the worst television series I have seen (admittedly, I try to avoid watching crap, so there are probably many more that are worse). And I did give it half a dozen episodes or so before giving up.
The dialogue is terrible, made worse by the acting. The story is difficult to follow (especially as I have never seen a Dr Who episode), and utterly unrewarding if you do go to the trouble of decoding it.
I haven’t seen the second series - in true Brit tabloid spirit, this will not deter me from passing judgment.
I love Dr Who, and I couldn’t bear Torchwood. Dr Who scripts have wit and intelligence, where Torchwood to me looked like a group of execs had sat down with a book on TV Formulas and come up with a collection of characters who are cyphers - the randy one, the confused one, the, er, other randy one, the serious scientist one (i.e. attractive girl with glasses) etc… whose dialogue is some variant on ‘hello, I’m randy/confused/serious’ etc.
And sorry, Sean Coffee (are you sure you’re not a Torchwood character? ) I don’t want to rain on your parade. For the record, my wife loved it - and she’s highly intelligent (no really) and teaches drama. her positive appraisal of it vs Dr Who (which she hates) was that it’s all about relationships, where DW is “just monsters.” (How about that for a withering put down?)
Have you tried pitching SHITSHIT as a title for a new high concept drama series? You never know. Starring Katie Price and Jamie Theakston as two shapeshifters from the planet Zarg who got divorced three millennia ago but are forced to share a bedsit in Dalston… What do you say, Anthony? We’ll split the rights…
BTW, I had lunch with a BBC producer friend of mine (excuse me while I pick these names up off the floor ) who did a piece of research on behalf of Oxford University to see what the key variable was in getting proposals accepted for new programmes. The only thing that made any significant difference (apart from whether you were mates with the producer, natch) was the title. (Consider ‘Can Fat Teens Hunt’ and you get the point). So SHITSHIT, shurely…?
I signed to this forum just so I could add my voices to the list of those who say it’s absolute bilge. Worryingly season 4 of Doctor Who has followed its lead too. Still, hopefully at the end of RTD era they’ll just ret-con the entire run to an alternate dimension and left it best unsaid.