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[personal profile] oceloty
Have now seen all of Torchwood S1 and S2, just in time for the S3 miniseries which will air in Britain tomorrow. Not that I'm in Britain, but hey. Actually, I finished watching a couple of weeks ago fully anticipating being TV-less and internet-less for a while around the move.

I suppose the normal human (or fan) reaction to liking a show would be to pimp it to other people. I really can't bring myself to do that here, because I got turned off by the first season, first time around, and suspect you discerning genre viewers might as well. So instead, I will say: friends, neighbors, countrymen, and flist: start with season 2. I'm happy to enable.

As for some thoughts on season 1:


Despite the dire warnings, I've actually thought a bit about season 1. At the risk of rehashing points probably debated ad infinitum two years ago, the first season has its moments but also some really glaring flaws. If I had to identify the underlying problem, I'd say the show had most of the right pieces to be a good show but didn't really find its voice until the last few episodes of the season. Was it about flawed people trying to save the world when they might not even be able to save themselves? Or was it about the horror of aliens invaders? About the horror of ordinary humans and ordinary human life, juxtaposed against aliens? About looking for something more in life than the horror? Or just a bunch of attractive actors with a lot of gun waving, snark, and innuendo? Was S1 Torchwood supposed to be dramatic, funny, scary, ironic, campy, or serious? Not that a show can't be many things at once, but pulling that off requires some degree of consistency. It seemed like every S1 episode seemed to have a different take on the matter, and sometimes even several within a single episode.

Mind you I think season 1 did get better. Admittedly, that's sort of damning with faint praise, but while the season is wildly uneven, there are two episodes I find excellent (Countrycide and Captain Jack Harkness). It's just that these come so late in the season that it was pretty hard going to get to that far. I also feel the producers hit the jackpot with Burn gorman, who is a fantastic actor, and Gareth David-Lloyd, who somehow made a minor character into an explosion of fannish fervor. I really can't make up my mind about how that happened, but it was clearly good for the show's continued existence.

Finally, I think the problems of S1 really shows the importance of good writing to series television. The episodes which "click" have strong writing with good characterization and cohesive plots that play to the show's strength and also relate back to the characters. (They also have good direction, but that's something else.) Looking back, several of the episodes are brimming with the same potential but the writing falls short somehow, either in the individual episode or the lack of consequences and long term fallout. I mean, there's plotholes, and there is a complete lack of actually writing and showing your major character developments, e.g. how Ianto got back on the team after Cyberwoman. It's not so much the writers taking short cuts as forgetting to stop at point B, on the way from A to C.


I suppose if S1 were really all that bad, I never would have made it through the whole season, even the 2nd time around. And if it were all that good, I wouldn't be writing all this critique. Really, it falls in between: enough potential to get me invested, not enough living up to the potential, to keep me from going on and on about it. So in summary: start with season 2.
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July 2012

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