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Nov 15, 2006

Jack Harkness: There can be only one.

Firstly, I must say that I did enjoy this episode.  Really, I did.  But there still hasn’t been an episode where I could go all out and say "Hell, yeah!"  Probably because I’m not American, but also because there’s always either something missing that I wanted, something added that I could have done without or it was just crap.

Whilst I realise that a review full of praise would be a) short and b) quite dull to read, I still think that it would be nice to put pen to paper (should that be finger to keyboard these days?) and actually be nice once in a while.  But until that happens, I’ll just have to content myself with the nit picking and the bitching.

Did I miss the opening ‘This is who we are’ speech in previous weeks, or is it something new?  It reminded me of the far classier opening monologue from Quantum Leap.  And paraphrasing a pun from the much under-rated Hudson Hawk, the quick cuts and loud rock music made me think that Torchwood are less CIA than they are MTVIA.

So, onto the story proper and we learn that there are fairies at the bottom of the garden and that Jack’s having nightmares despite not ever sleeping.  It’s a fairly safe bet that these two events are going to be linked.

Less CIA than they are MTVIA.

I suppose it was interesting to get a little back-story on Jack and to see him stretch his acting range beyond the flirt or shout technique.  It just raised an awful lot more questions for me though.  Perhaps they will be answered at some point later on but for the moment I’m at a loss.

Is Jack some kind of Highlander wannabe now? He can’t die (I imagine cutting his head off might slow him down at least) and we’re now getting flashbacks of him in earlier times.  Does he age at all these days?  Was he in fact flung from the far future into the distant past where he’s been waiting this past 100 years for the Doctor to pop up and help him either die or get better?

How does he keep getting jobs in the military?  If memory servers, Jack hails from the 51st or 52nd Century and yet he had no problem finding responsible employment in sensitive areas.  I’d have thought that his National Insurance number at least would raise a few eyebrows.

I want to know how Estelle didn’t recognise him.  I know there were probably years between the last time she saw his ‘father’ and when Jack turned up, but she had photos of him on her sideboard.  They must have been clear enough because Gwen made the connection straight away.  He would have spoken the same, looked the same and was even dressed the in the same military great coat (including nifty holster).  If he loved her that much, wouldn’t he have told her the truth?  I mean he wanders around telling random police constables all about himself, but the true love of his life?  Nah, why bother?  I’ll just tell her that my dad hooked up with some other woman and had kids with her instead.

"I hooked up with this bottle blonde with huge teeth and some northern bloke with big ears."

Look at it from Estelle’s point of view.  She pledges her life to this charming American who swears that they’ll be together until they die.  He then wanders off to fight a war and when it’s over, they’ve both survived and does he come back to her?  Nope.  He shacks up with somebody else, has at least one child who then looks her up years later to rub her nose in it.

Bit of a gitty thing to do really.  It would have been much better to tell her the truth.  "I was going to come back to you, but I had to take a bomb into deep space.  Then I hooked up with this bottle blonde with huge teeth and some northern bloke with big ears.  You know how hard it is to get away in situations like that."

The man is such an enigma these days.  Okay, I know when we met him, there were a couple of years missing from his life that he couldn’t remember, but that may have just been a really bad hangover.  Just lately, though, I’ve been getting the impression that we’re not going to have much continuity from the Doctor Who Jack Harkness to the Torchwood one.  I might be wrong of course.  But right now, I doubt it.

We got to see more of the car this week, too.  Obviously they were concerned the flashy lights and large black, obvious people-carrying tank may not be high profile enough for a secret organisation and so they decided to not only engrave the name ‘Torchwood’ on the bonnet but also spray paint it in yellow on the roof!  What's next week - The Torchwood open day?  Bring the kiddies to have their photo taken with a Weevil!  Secret Organisation people!  Look it up.

(Oh and you may have noticed that I have no idea about cars - There’s probably a specific name for the bit of car over the wheel arch that isn’t really the bonnet but I have idea what it would be.  I was just impressed I knew the phrase ‘Wheel arch’.  Actually ‘bonnet’ was pretty good for me.)

I felt that this week’s episode was nicely serious and grown-up without the forced smut or pointless bad language.  For example, it dealt with the paedophile aspect without histrionics or resorting to the stereotypical image of an over weight unshaven man with lank greasy hair and thick glasses.  I feel that does deserve a mention - It would have been so easy to just go for the lazy 'obvious baddy' option but the villain is always far more scary for his apparent normality and the fear that he could be anywhere without looking at all suspicious.

"Take her.  She’s a brat anyway."

It was also interesting to see them not come out of it with the usual smug 'aren’t we great' attitude.  Dissension in the ranks (which manifested itself as the Jack Pack not talking to the man - Did I say grown up?) when Jack had to make the decision to do nothing and let the fairy folk win.  Shades of Star Treks ‘Needs of the many’ philosophy.  It was a harsh decision, but was it the right one?

It’s not like they’d even made any attempt to stop the attacks before just giving in.  They spent the whole 50 minutes rushing round Cardiff, checking the weather forecast and volunteering for Help the Aged.  Even when they did track down the fairies, not one of the Jack Pack tried shooting them, fighting them or even zapping them with a proton pack.  It would have been better to see somebody try some kind of alternative strategy to just saying, "Take her.  She’s a brat anyway."

On the other hand, the young girl, Jasmine if memory serves, wanted to go with them and the badly CG’d fairies would continue killing and harassing people until they got what they wanted.  Admittedly, the mother might be a little put out that her daughter had skipped off into the woods, never to return, but other than that it solved a lot of problems.

I guess when you’re the head of an elite alien hunting task force, these are the kind of tough decisions you need to make.  Can they really call themselves alien hunters?  So far the only actual aliens they encountered were a sex hungry gas cloud and a leather-clad sewer dweller.  Even this week’s ‘enemy’ were creatures from before time or before mankind stood upright or whenever they came from.  But they were Earth creatures - Not alien.

Okay, there’s alien technology, but collecting bric-a-brac isn’t exactly the same as hunting, is it?  Still there are another eight shows to go, so perhaps we’ll meet them little green men soon enough.

Jar Jar Binks was more convincing than that.

And finally (You’ll be glad to know) I did like the little twist when Gwen zoomed in to the face of one of the Cottingly Fairies to show young Jasmines face.  It showed that she is happy and raises the question about the Fairies at the bottom of the garden all over again.

Naturally, I hunted down a copy of the picture for myself and immediately thought "Was Conan-Doyle on some serious medication at the time?"  I know he was a keen believer in the supernatural, but he really should have exercised some kind of restraint or asked to meet them or something.  I mean, Jar Jar Binks was more convincing than that.  You can practically see the brush strokes.  He wrote great books, but must have been incredibly gullible.

Still, back to the show, it was a nice little twist.  I enjoyed the show.

Next week looks like a Dog Soldiers rip off, so maybe the Torchwood werewolf makes a comeback.  Might be interesting.  I’m still going to record it though.  The shows not yet good enough that I’m going to miss out on sleep for it.


Torchwood just needs that one fantastic episode to turn people's opinions around about it. It's still early in the game, and it's quite reasonable to think that there are the elements in place to really come up with something special.

They haven't been able to do that so far, but I am interested enough to keep coming back to it at the moment. Even if sometimes, that's only after videotaping it ;)

That last shot was pure Hammond. It confirms that they couldn't possibly have won, because the evidence confirmed that it had already happened.

I just wish it had been another show, though. The previous five-minute cop-out just seemed all *wrong* for Torchwood.

Conan-Doyle's gullibility belief in the supernatural seems an extension of his acceptance of spiritualism. He became enamoured of the latter after losing rather a lot of his family in the early twentieth century. I suspect he wanted to believe in a world that was more than everyday appearances implied, that there was something beyond death, and was willing to 'overlook' clues to the contrary.

Well, I can understand that. Not wanting to create any sort of religious argument, I believe in some sort of afterlife, purely because I believe in justice. I have no evidence, no proof, no reasoning to back up my beliefs, but there is so much injustice in the world that I can't believe that this can be all there is.

Whoah, did I just philosophise? I didn't think I could.

Did anyone hear about Christopher Eccleston's gig on HEROES? Whassthatallabaht?

Dunno about that, but a google containing Eccleston and "Double Life" brought up a BTS link at #8. Hardly had to scroll :).

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