...a blog by Richard Flowers

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Day 2585: DEFENDING THE RULE OF LAW (and possibly TOYCHWUD): To the Last Man Elephant


Above the Law; Beyond Belief; Out of Control; Round the Bend!

No, it is not TORCHWOOD – I shall get to that in a minute but I am too CROSS about this not to mention it first – it is the Government's crooked contrivance to corrupt our coroners' courts: their latest angle on abolishing the Rule of Law.

How IMPOSSIBLE it seems that we are sending our young soldiers off to fight wars in Afghanistan and Iraq allegedly to try and bring the Rule of Law to those countries, while at home we are casually tossing it aside.

My Daddy Alex has raised the subject with the Federal Policy Committee and discovered that it is EVEN WORSE than we imagined, with blatant bribery built in as standard!

I hope that Mr Huhney-Monster will be quickly KILLING this TO DEATH… and then hitting the Home Secretary, Ms Jacqui Spliff, and the Sinister Minister of Justice, Mr Man O'Straw, over the hear with it!

Anyway, it's Wednesday so it is time to stop going on about evil plans to destroy the world and have another of Daddy's reviews…

If last week's "Sleeper" was a (superior) example of "typical" Torchwood, then this weeks is almost a distillation of all the successful elements of series one. Helen Raynor takes such familiar elements as Sapphire & Steel-esque "time breaks", mixing time zones in the style of "Captain Jack Harkness", and "ghosts from the future", from her own season one story "Ghost Machine", and wraps them up in a cosy tale of love across time, itself done last year in the much praised "Out of Time".

This story is for Tosh. It is typical in ensemble series like this to forefront one or other of the characters to give them some meaty screen time and take the weight off the leads for a week. And it's a tragic love story. That's also fairly typical of these character-centric episodes. And the screen convention where we accept that "they fall in love in 45 minutes and then she never mentions him again" (as well as the fact that both actors are very sweet and honest in the roles) helps to ease us over the more unbelievable aspects of this relationship.

Toshiko's boyfriend du jour, the no doubt ironically named Tommy, is from 1918 and, from his perspective, he has known Tosh for four days. Fast doesn't come into it! In fairness, he's been to war, to the trenches of World War One no less, and that changes the conventions a bit. (In fact, perhaps the real surprise is that he doesn't leave a handful of coins on the bedside table!) Mind you, he was already ready to go back to Tosh's place even before he was given the news that he would be going "over the top" the next day.

The perspective he brings of "war is always with us" is, I'm afraid, crushingly banal. Sight of the Iraq war on a television screen leads to Tommy brooding that nothing has changed. Which is obviously nonsense from a man who has supposedly been driven bonkers by the rat-infested, open-sewer hell that was trench warfare. He comes from a war when more people died per hour than the total number of British servicemen killed in Iraq. If anything, he would be laughing at us for the idea that our sanitised, video-game coverage is anything remotely like seeing the real horrors of war. Not that there aren't those horrors in Iraq, but we seriously do not see those on our tellies!

Meanwhile, from Toshiko's perspective, she's known Tommy for four years – that in itself is interesting, raising the suggestion that she was already working for Torchwood when having a screaming fit at a Space Pig and the ninth Doctor – but if she has then when did her feelings for him arise? She spent most of last year – at least when not being seduced by psychotic lesbian star poets – mooning over Owen. Does that necessarily fit with someone who is thinking of the guy in the freezer as potential boyfriend material? Or perhaps it does, Tosh being a person who is looking for impossible relationships so that she has an excuse to leave her life on hold. We just never saw those moments when she asked Ianto to slip him out of the ice box for her.

Ianto gets, perhaps, the most lovely moment: a profound and loving kiss with Jack, that at last seals their relationship for us. It's a very vulnerable moment too: he's just asked Jack if, given the chance, he would return to his own time and Jack has told him he's found people to love here.

In many ways, though, I'd be so much more interested in the stories not told. Torchwood 1918 looks fascinating, with their clockwork tricorders and cut glass accents, and raises the question of whether Jack was involved in the organisation then. Throw in the tantalising hint "they all died so young" and you wonder if there isn't another spin off you'd rather be watching.

And wouldn't it have been fascinating to see Tommy's trip though time from his point of view, and glimpse the changing faces of Torchwood over the passing decades?

Next time… Oh by the way, darling, I deal with aliens. Rhys and Gwen have some explaining to do to each other. Let's "Meat".

1 comment:

James Graham (Quaequam Blog!) said...

I have to admit I preferred Sleeper to this, hackneyed though it was. Indeed, I was going to write a blog post about how Torchwood had fixed the problems of the last series, only to watch this one.

It was a great idea poorly executed. Tommy was the interesting character, not Tosh, and it should have focussed more on him. As you say, an episode from his point of view would have been much more interesting (although admittedly probably more expensive to make). It was a very non linear story shoehorned into a linear narrative and I just don't think it worked.

As for Tosh working for TW back in Aliens in London, I seem to recall this being explained in her biog on the official website. Or did I dream it?