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February 20, 2008

E-I-E-I-Oh!

Torchwood: Reset

Reset Just when you thought things couldn't get any better in the vastly improved Torchwood 2: Electric Boogaloo, they just killed Owen Harper! Shot in the chest at point blank range by Jim Robinson from Neighbours, no less. He's stone cold dead - there's no way that he could come back from that. No, sirree! He is an ex-Harper, he has passed away, kicked the bucket, shuffled off this mortal coil, gone to join the choir invisible (do they let date-rapists into heaven?) and I haven't cheered so much since Adric popped his clogs.

There's no way that Torchwood would ever cheapen such an effective, shocking and completely unexpected twist by bringing him back next week. That would be ridiculous. So, farewell Owen Harper, you were a complete and utter twat. See that screen-cap above? That's my new wallpaper, that is.

Even before we were treated to the thrill of Owen slowly bleeding to death on a freezing pavement (the last time I wrote a sentence like that it was for some fan-fiction), Reset was yet another great episode of Torchwood. And it had a lot riding on it: the return of Martha 'moved sideways' Jones, for a start.

Incredibly, the parent show's naughty younger brother handled Martha with the utmost care and respect. She didn't swear; she didn't torture anyone; she didn't pointlessly wave a gun in the air; hell, she didn't even get nailed by a member of the cast! In fact, her insertion into the team imbued the Hub with some much needed warmth and camaraderie and I sincerely hope that she stays there forever. Even Jack went a little gooey inside, and the subtle nods to Doctor Who were beautifully done (even if they do hark back to some complete and utter guff).

I haven't cheered so much since Adric popped his clogs.

Reset2 Martha is more confident and self-assured than ever before. Working for UNIT (under their new acronym SQUEE), she is now a fully-fledged doctor (she must have taken her finals in the middle of that book tour she did during the 'year that never was'). To demonstrate this fact she can can shake beakers and test tubes with such unflappable professionalism, even Owen can't help but admire her skills. Not only that, she's also an expert on extraterrestrial biology, probably because she talked to a couple of aliens in between fawning over a Gallifreyan last year. Either that or the Doctor's glowing reference to UNIT put Jo Grant's uncle to shame in the pulling strings stakes.

Anyway, Martha is following a trail of dead bodies who all got a sharp poke in the eye, and after a little running around and some Scooby-Do style detective work, our intrepid heroes discover that a sinister organisation called the Pharm are behind all the boo-hiss shenanigans.

After trying to get my head around Torchwood's relationship with wider society during Meat, the introduction of the Pharm muddied the waters even further. Exactly how many top-secret "beyond the police, outside the government" agencies are there running around Wales? We've got UNIT (the acceptable face of counter-alienism), Torchwood (pretty much the unacceptable face of anything, really), and now the Pharm: a government sanctioned bunch of Mehendri Solon wannabes who are trying to cure cancer by milking Zygons, pipetting Primords and slicing up Silurians. Or at least they did in the version that was running in my head. It would have been a damn sight more interesting than defoliating a Weevil!

a bunch of Mehendri Solon wannabes trying to cure cancer by milking Zygons, pipetting Primords and slicing up Silurians..

Reset3 There was a lovely Pertwee vibe running through this episode: mad, chortling scientists dabbling in "things they don't understand" (not to mention making it up as they go along), aliens having their rights abused by shady military types, giant insects, plastic automatons (but thankfully Ianto's not in this one all that much) and sexy high-tech gadgetry.

Martha's contact lenses, which came equipped with built-in wi-fi, an mp3 player and 500 free texts, even managed to out-Bond Bond (especially now they've gone all boring and gritty again), and for once Torchwood felt like it was innovating rather than emulating. Great stuff.

Sadly, Owen's gadget made no sense whatsoever. In retrospect it would have been more interesting if Owen's inability to get it to work correctly saved Martha's life but killed him in the process. Jim Robinson even says something like "we all have to make sacrifices" just as Owen's about to pull the trigger. But no. He just works out how to use it properly in the nick of time. Oh well, at least they killed the hell out of him later, albeit in a less heroic (but still very welcome) way.

Torchwood is on a bit of a roll at the moment. In fact, this episode didn't put a foot wrong for me. The performances were great, the CGI was fantastic (poor ickle Mayfly) and the direction was bonkers brilliant. I loved it.

Next week: Team Torchwood join forces with a ultra-secretive organisation that are so secretive they - gasp! - don't even have their own website!

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