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Dec 11, 2006

Things To Do In Cardiff When You're Dead

This is starting to feel like kicking a corpse, but here goes.

Not content with pretty much taking everything it can get away with from the Joss Whedon oeuvre, Torchwood is now employing look-alikes of Buffy and Angel cast-members in a vain attempt to instil some quality into this ailing excuse for a show. This week: Seth Green pops up as Torchwood’s very own stalker, whose hit and run death is apparently deemed so important as to warrant Gwen’s entire involvement for the whole episode. While the rest of the Jack pack presumably do something much more important; like check what other Who aliens Ianto has smuggled into the cellar, perhaps.

the episode almost brought back unpleasant memories of potter’s wheels and Righteous Brothers from the early nineties

Yes, Eugene Jones - geeky dreamer and the bastard half-brother of ‘Love & Monsters’ Elton Pope; which is somewhat appropriate seeing as Random Shoes (terrible title, by the way) cannibalises Season Two’s controversial look at fandom and the single man to produce something which is similar only in remit. Gosh, aren’t all these sci-fi nuts a bunch of tossers, eh; what with their lowly jobs and ridiculous dreams of actually being important to someone other than their dried-up old mothers? Where L&M had charm, heart and a truth which most Who fans would willingly admit to clinging to, ‘Random Shoes’ instead tried to sympathise for a character who thought Torchwood were cool - tricky in itself - and then went on to wring our every emotion in an attempt to make us feel all warm inside. Except it didn’t. In fact, when Eugene kept spouting anal facts about life's minutiae in some half-arsed polemic about the poignancy of existence, it was all I could do to stop myself from laughing out loud. Never has a cushion been chewed so vehemently without the stimulus of an anal probe.

Newcomer writer - and yes, this one’s as bad as last week’s - Jacqueta May certainly seems to have watched Ghost more times than is healthy; as the opening shots of Eugene wandering around intact while his corpse lies all bloody and messy on the roadside (not to mention the ‘white-light’ ending) almost brought back unpleasant memories of potter’s wheels and Righteous Brothers from the early nineties. And is it just me, or is that whole ‘backwards story-telling’ device so beloved of post-Tarantino scribes getting just a bit old hat now? Not to mention the obligatory use of rock and pop classics on the soundtrack in order to denote an achingly clever (sic.), post-modern self-awareness of the subject matter of which the piece is a scathing examination of (Jesus, I think I just came over all John Tulloch and Manuel Alvarado for a minute then. Hope they send me the cleaning bill…)

Never has a cushion been chewed so vehemently without the stimulus of an anal probe

And please, please can someone tell me if Torchwood is on some sort of percentage for every R ‘n’ B ballad that it shoe-horns into each episode like the obligatory salad you get with pub meals? There is in fact a wonderfully post-modern moment in this episode - for all my nay-saying - and it comes when Owen is viewing one of Eugene’s unreturned DVDs. Seems that even one of the show’s stars has finally taken the ‘sod this for a game of soldiers’ route and stuck the classic A for Andromeda on instead. Perhaps next week Jack will discover a box-set of Angel and realise how his character has been reduced to a tired Xerox of his Season One self instead…

Yes, I’m probably being harsh - as I’m reliably informed that self-intoxication by certain beverages not only makes this episode tolerable but indeed enjoyable - but we really have seen all this shtick done before and much, much better. Investigating a man’s death by examining how he lived his life? Pretty much every cop show going. The loveable, geeky everyman who just dreams of a world beyond the humdrum and manages to save the day and make a connection with the show’s bit of glam before being abandoned to his fate? Well, Marc Warren et al pretty much bagged that one last June. There’s nothing particularly wrong with 'Random Shoes', but there’s nothing particularly right with it either. Like something you’d buy from the Innovations catalogue, or one of those bodily organs which thanks to evolution no longer plays any significant part, you’re left wondering - just as the fourth Doctor once did - as to what it’s for?!?

Perhaps next week Jack will discover a box-set of Angel and realise how his character has been reduced to a tired Xerox of his Season One self instead…

And it’s hard to raise any interest in a piece of drama in which the main tension comes from two blokes ripping off a supposed mate as to the value of some e-bay trinket. As with most Torchwood episodes you’re left feeling that this is all going somewhere, only for the resolution to leave you feeling as flat as the proverbial pancake. So what if Eugene’s naïve dream of life beyond the stars turns out to be real, when all it achieves for him is the sight of his estranged, grieving parents and a completely non-sensical ability to save pretty Welsh girls from a similar fate. Hardly a life - or indeed, death - lesson that I’ll ever want to learn.

Coming across like a Richard Curtis film squeezed through the emotional wroughtness of the RTD mincer, 'Random Shoes' is a far too late attempt to instil Torchwood with a bit of heart. And if this is the result, bring back the OTT swearing and horny aliens tout-de-suite!

But what do I know? Adam Stone probably loved it…

(The Torchwood Book of How-To-Rip-Off-Every-Genre-Show-Going Facts has this to say about Random Shoes: the six minutes during which this episode displayed the CBBC logo was a deliberate attempt to inveigle our youth into this corrupt, God-less excuse for a television show. The bastards.)

Comments

Didn't watch it, that makes 3 episodes since I officially gave up, and do you know what? I don't care. I really don't care. The only thing I'm missing is an opinion on these episodes, and I can do without them.

I would however like to know what the episode title has to do with anything?

One of the 'vital' clues were photos of 'random feet' that turned out to be nothing of the sort.

Well, I bloody loved it! Which means I'll have to review it.

I was, however, very. very. very drunk....

Ha ha ha ha ha! I'm finished with Torchwood! It feels so good to let go.

Though I won't stop watching Who no matter how terrible these butchers make it, at least Torchwood can be my proxy.

Neil: Does that mean we can expect a review in the style of Rowley Birkin QC from The Fast Show? :)

Why the hell were Torchwood called to a hit and run? - okay, so the victim was a guy who had been stalking the Jack Pack, but the police wouldn't have known that would they?

And if his so called "mates" were going to nick the do-dad of the week off him, why add insult to injury by giving him 34 quid (and a banana milkshake) for it?

Also, online auctions being what they are, how did the bid jump fro 3 grand to 15 grand? - there must have been 2 genuine bidders.

Another thing... oh, sod it. If this wasn't who related, how many of us would still be watching by now?

Excuse me for butting in... but... So far, I've enjoyed Torchwood more or less but I really didn't "get" this story at all. Lacklustre knock-off of Love & Monsters (which I still can't decide if I liked or not) with a strange shoe-fetish. What the HELL was going on with the shoes? Did Eugene think "Oh bugger, I'm being stiffed by my friends! I know, I'll take random photos of their shoes! That'll teach 'em!"

And what was all that at the end? I like to think of myself (modestly) as rather clever, but I just couldn't figure out what the story was trying to tell me. Trust no-one? Nope that's been done by The X-Files. Love never dies? Dracula. My heart will go on? Titanic.

25 minutes of pointless meandering padded to 50 minutes. Badly.

IMHO.

The images of the shoes was a mistake. He didn't mean to take them!

I didn't see much of As, If when it was on the air, and since I've only actually seen one episode, but I watched Sinchronicity(said by some to be a spiritual sequel to As, If)like a hawk. Paul Chequer came across as a very likeable bloke, so I'm going to give this one a chance if not just for him, more commenting after seeing it tonight..

I'm wondering whether I missed some big symbolic meaningful thing about the shoes or whether they did just throw away something that had been, up to that point, treated as a big plot point.

I mean, perhaps some "we all live our lives in random shoes" fortune cookie bollocks could be concocted to cover the title but in terms of the story, getting those snaps of the shoes wasn't meaningful at all...

We didn't find out a thing about the eye either but I'll hang fire on that for now in case it's Foreshadowing Of Events To Come (tm)

Soldeed, have you been at the gin too..?

Yes, I’m probably being harsh - as I’m reliably informed that self-intoxication by certain beverages not only makes this episode tolerable but indeed enjoyable

Well I was fairly intoxicated and I hated this one.

And if this is the result, bring back the OTT swearing and horny aliens tout-de-suite!

Exactly. If you can't make it deep then make it scary!

This was a terrible episode. Worse than Fear Her.

I'm still waiting for Wednesday on BBC2, but it's clear to me already that reaction to Random Shoes is entirely dependanton whether the right element happens to click or not with the viewer. 'Quality', or at least the notions about quality that we've been putting forward for the last number of weeks, doesn't really come into it. This is a good thing as it gives the series a much-need change; like Love & Monsters, it's an episode that's largely critic-proof.

Dalek_Sex, normally one of the most cynical buggers on the planet, absolutely loved it this week and was almost completely silent on my AIM window while it was going. He really wants to see Love & Monsters now.

I thought the random shoes bit was pretty obvious. He knew he was in trouble, pulled his phone out and took pictures of the shoes of the people sitting across from him as well as the waitress, so they could be found. Not the BEST plan, but hey cameraphones have been used in less believable manners in more believable shows.

I think he took the photos accidentally while either trying or pretending to make a phonecall.

I hated Love and Monsters, but despite the simularities I really liked Random Shoes. Perhaps because it didn't indulge in the silliness that Love & Monsters did. No fellating paving slab love slaves, no scooby doo chases, no northern comics overacting in appallingly bad and overly primary green prosthetics. Always thought the central idea of L&S was good, but badly realised, so in a way I'm glad to see the idea reused and done properly.

In fact, like many of the rest of you, I had grown tired of TW, and missed "They Keep Killing Kenny (the Bastards)" (or whatever the full title was) because I had far more interesting things to do, and I only saw Random Shoes last night; TW is hardly eager appointment TV, it's "if it's on and I'm at a loose end I might watch it if nothing better is on" TV. However, I thought Random Feet was the most enjoyable episode I'd seen. Maybe that's because the Torchwood team was hardly in it. Made a nice change to have a likable central character for a change.

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