Wednesday, 8 July 2009

TV Snark - Torchwood: Children of Earth - Day Three OR Civil Service Meeting 18238

Torchwood rumbles on, does Day Three improve on yesterday's action packed but silly offering? Find out...

Recap: Torchwood relocate to an old warehouse/aircraft hanger in Cardiff. The team decide to indulge in petty crime to finance their war on aliens as Gwen (former WPC) gives everyone tips on bag snatching. Then we see a LOT of bag snatching.

The government continue to worry about the 456 whilst not doing very much. Lois gets roped into helping Torchwood as Gwen magically teleports herself to London in the blink of an eye (after a morning of purse snatching) to give Lois a pair of surveillance contact lenses (as seen in Torchwood season two, continuity fans). Lois turns out to be the worst spy in the world as she crafts unconvincing lies and delivers them like Homer Simpson does when he's lying. Still her awful lying fools Frobisher and Spears into allowing Lois to come along to meet the 456.

Clement continues to act barmy and is arrested in the pub after he steals a wallet. Gwen conveniently manages to rescue him from a central London police cell though and drags him back to Cardiff so he can then call Ianto 'queer'. He used a no-no word.

Eventually, after what feels like 500 civil service meetings in one episode, the aliens arrive via a pillar of fire and one(?) of them plonks itself in the special chamber. The chamber is conveniently full of dry ice so we can't see anything of the alien other than gooey discharges which it frequently sprays against the glass walls. Lovely.

Jack eventually remembers that he was part of the alien abduction conspiracy in 1965 and tries to blackmail Frobisher by stealing his wife's phone and threatening to reveal everything. Frobisher calls Jack's bluff when he in turn reveals that he's captured Jack's daughter and grandson.

The 456 alien (in what feels like the longest scene ever) reveals its demands and requests 10% of all the children on Earth as a gift.

Jack returns to Torchwood and terrifies Clement who recognises him as the man who originally handed the 1965 children over to the 456. Jack was the child catcher!

Thoughts: Good grief, this episode felt like every one of its sixty minutes was stretched out to an unbearable degree. The scenes involving the alien and the meetings between the civil service, UNIT and America were padding of the worst kind. It's clear that the story is really stretching to cover the five days now and what seemed to be a tight thriller has now become limp and tedious.

Torchwood again fails to maintain any kind of tone or moral compass as Gwen and co delight in robbing the innocents of Cardiff. There's no real moral quandry or deliberation about the act, in fact Gwen is very eager to use her police skills for petty crime. At the end of their thieving montage, Ianto manages to do the shopping and buy Jack an exact duplicate of his old outfit, complete with identical coat. Sigh. They could've taken the opportunity to update Jack's look but no, everyone continues to dress like a cartoon character always wearing the same gear day in and day out.

The 456 aliens are a massive disappointment as they're hidden behind smoke after their arrival. The show tries to build suspense by having the alien make strange noises and thrash and excrete in its chamber but this is all undone by the dullest first contact scene I've ever watched. Frobisher talks for an Ice Age and the alien replies in monosyllabic utterances. I imagine that on paper the scene was supposed to be very tense and eerie as the alien communicates in a strange and stilted manner. Unfortunately this doesn't come across in the scenes at all. I grew ever more impatient with the long sentences and pauses in between and was shouting at the show to "get on with it!"

It's only the half way point and I'm already bored of this story. I'm struggling to think how they can even drag another episode out of it without collapsing under its own padding. If I wanted to watch running up and down corridors to avoid capture or a series of civil service meetings, I would watch Trial of a Timelord instead.


Rev/Views said...

Are the Torchwood team in Cardiff? I got the impression they were supposed to be near London or something.

Heck I could be wrong, I believe that episode killed 30% of my brain and 95% of my will to live.

Aaron said...

Nah, they expect us to believe that Cardiff and London are 5 minutes apart. Torchwood crew go round the Bay robbing people and then Gwen appears in London. Jack jumps into his stolen sports car and races over to London and back to Cardiff again.

The way it was presented was confusing and it could've done with 24 style location captions just to ensure that the audience knew where events were taking place. It's doubly confusing when Cardiff sometimes doubles for London as you can't always rely on local knowledge to know where a scene is set!

Doc Hall said...

"Eventually, after what feels like 500 civil service meetings in one episode, the aliens arrive via a pillar of fire and one(?) of them plonks itself in the special chamber."

500 meetings is actually pretty low for the number of meetings the civil service needs to get somethign done.