Sunday, 28 August 2011

TV Snark - Torchwood Miracle Day Episode Seven

Hello again, this episode of Torchwood is so flashback heavy it may as well have been filmed with a sepia tone filter. Let's go back in time and find out what Jack got up to the 1920s...

It's 1927 and a cheeky Italian immigrant tries to steal Captain Jack's work visa and sneak into America. Jack tackles the thief to the ground but not before sitting on him and exchanging a look. Oh yeah, they're totally going to get it on. Jack takes a shine to the thief, Angelo, and visits him in the holding cell. Angelo spotted that Jack's visa was forged and this impresses Jack. They begin discussing holiday destinations and Jack decides to use his magic wrist device to forge Angelo a visa.

Back in the present day, Gwen is still freaking out about the EVIL CONSPIRACY using her contact lenses to talk to her. They have Gwen's family under armed guard but won't answer the phone to confirm this, which is a bit odd. Surely the kidnappers would want to prove they have her family? Oh well, lucky for them Gwen believes them anyway.

In the Torchwood office flat, Esther is watching Rex's YouTube snuff video of Dr Juarez's death and Rex walks in. Awkward. We then find out that Rex didn't know much about Dr Juarez or her family, he thinks she may have had a mother or brother somewhere, or something. Whatever, she's dead now.

Gwen bursts into the Torchwood flat and demands to see Jack, she surreptiously grabs a tazer and offers to show Jack something in her car. Esther senses something is awry. When Esther notices your lies, it's time to make up some better ones. Jack falls for Gwen's obvious ploy and ends up tazed in the back of the car.

Back in 1927 Jack rents an apartment with Angelo and they then have BBC uncensored sex. This is probably because it's not as ridiculously gratuitous as the sex scenes in the earlier episode. You know, the episode where Jack decided to suddenly drop his investigation and have sex with a barman. Anyway, they have sex and there are fireworks. SYMBOLISM.

Gwen and Jack have the most awkward road trip ever as Jack wakes up tied and bound on the backseat of the car. Jack decides to talk to the people who live in Gwen's contact lenses, he offers to give himself up in return for the safety of Gwen's family. Gwen freaks out when Jack can't remember her mum's name. Gwen, I've watched and written about every episode in stupid detail and I can't remember your mum's name. I bet Gwen's mum doesn't remember her own name.

In 1927 Jack meets up with a priest who sells him communion wine to flog in a 1920s bootleg stylee. Some stereotypical 1920s thugs suddenly appear and drag Jack and Angelo away.

Just as the 1920s got interesting we're dragged into the present where Jack is trying to bargain with Gwen for his release. Jack hasn't figured out that he's better off staying in the car and meeting the bad guys he wants to find. If he escapes he'll still be none the wiser as to what's happening. Jack, why you so stupid?

Whiplashing back to 1927, Jack is being intimidated by a stereotypical mafioso. The mafia are upset at Jack intruding into their bootlegging turf but Jack manages to talk them round into helping deliver a mysterious box. Jack is told not to look inside the box. What's in the box?

Seriously, what's in the box?

Oh well, we'll find out soon enough. Jack wants to send away Angelo because shit just got real. Angelo makes an impassioned plea so Jack thinks that he can make Angelo his companion, just like the Doctor has companions. Part of the deal will now involve Angelo calling Jack, "Doctor" during sex.

So what is in the box? Puppets! Alien brain worms puppets.

Jack shoots the brain slugs which were going to be used by the Trickster's Brigade to destabilise time by controlling the president of the USA.

No, not that Trickster. THIS Trickster:

I say, I say, I say, my interdimensional creature has no eyes. How does he smell? Awful.
Yes it's a Sarah Jane Adventures/Doctor Who reference for the last remaining members of the US Starz audience. Now they should all  have gone.

Jack's shooting alerts the guards of the warehouse he's in so he and Angelo run away. Then in order to point out that JACK IS NOT THE DOCTOR SO EVERYTHING HE DOES WILL GO WRONG NO MATTER HOW LONG HE LIVES OR HOW COMPETENT HE COULD CONCEIVABLY BECOME, he gets shot in the head. Angelo is somewhat traumatised by this because he doesn't know Jack is indestructible. Angelo gets arrested and taken away by the cops. Oh well, Jack is still alive and I'm sure he'll rescue him...

Back in Gwen's car, Jack tries to get some sleep but Gwen starts banging on about the good old days of Torchwood. She proves that she's a horrible person by claiming she loved the early episodes. She's a monster. Gwen also cries because it's seemingly in the contract for all the female characters to cry at least once per episode. Still, it gives the Esther the episode off from the waterworks. Gwen goes on to say that she will see Jack killed like a dog if it means getting her family back. Jack counters this threat by offering to rip the skin from her skull to stay alive. So there's five years of bonding for you.

In 1928 (uh oh) Jack meets Angelo outside prison. Jack ran off to Los Angeles and left Angelo in prison, Jack spent the time buying a brown coat that's quite similar to the Doctor's. Glad to see he had his priorities straight. Jack takes Angelo back to their old apartment but Angelo isn't too keen on getting it on with Jack. Angelo is Catholic and thinks Jack is the Devil so he's stabs him to death. Then Angelo takes Jack downstairs to the butcher shop and lets the butcher kill him. Then Angelo gathers all the locals who chain Jack up in a basement and take turns killing him. This development is somewhat... silly.

Jack is killed over and over until he wakes and sees three men size him up for purchase. The three men make an agreement and give a funny handshake. Jack fades out of consciousness... He's awoken by Angelo who frees him and cleans him up. Angelo apologises for the whole repeated murder thing and offers to run away with him but Jack decides to leave without Angelo by throwing himself off a roof and then disappearing like Batman.

In the present, Jack and Gwen finally meet up with the EVIL CONSPIRACY. It's Nana Visitor from that there Star Trek Deep Space Nine. Just as the villains look to have the upperhand, Rex and Esther ambush the villains via sniper rifle. Esther and Rex have also arranged for PC Andy to arrive with a SWAT team to rescue Gwen's family.

Jack and Gwen quickly make up and then try to intimidate Nana Visitor. Visitor points out that Jack still needs to find out who is behind it all and namedrops Angelo. Wow, the guy we just learned all about is behind it all. That's surprising.

NEXT EPISODE: Oswald Danes decides to go into ULTRA PAEDO MODE. It's PAEDOGEDDON. Also, Newman from Seinfeld returns.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

TorchTat - The Torchwood Merchandise Cavalcade

Do you like buying stuff? Owning things? Do you like buying and owning things that are Torchwood branded/related? With the help of my loyal Twitter followers (using the #torchtat hashtag) I have located the best merchandise associated with Torchwood. BEHOLD.

Prove your appreciation of Torchwood with this certificate. Hang it in your office in place of any stupid qualifications you might have.

Are you still glum about the death of Ianto? Do you wish you could see his Welsh face on demand? Do you want a Ianto that fits in your pocket? A Ianto you could make a tiny wedding dress for? Well you're in luck!


Can't access Wikipedia from your Kindle? Need to know in which episode Owen melted into a radioactive puddle? Why not buy a Kindle version of the Torchwood Wikipedia entries?

Do you like Captain Jack? Do you like John Barrowman but not enough to buy something that looks like him? Then why not buy a bust that kind of looks like John Barrowman if you squint really hard and wish?

Are your business cards boring? Do they contain your name and boring occupation? Why not spice it up by pretending to work for two fictional characters? It's the Ianto and Jack business card! With subtle rainbow design!

Looking for that portrait that ties the room together? A conversation starter to hang above the fireplace? I have just the thing.

Are you into cross stitching? This is the perfect pattern for you. Make multiple cross stitcheries and hang them around your home.

Where are your keys? Do you know? DO YOU? You know what would help you keep track of your keys AND protect them from alien molestation? This handy keyring!

I like my cushions but they're missing something. A certain I don't know what. Whatever the French call it. Wait, I've found just the thing - my cushions will look AMAZING.

Do you have a baby? Would you like to make your baby cool? How about a pair of shades and this little number?

This has to be seen to be believed, Torchwood aromatic, magic oils. Yeah.

And finally, do you want a copy of the official Torchwood magazine with a special cover? It looks like Ianto is really creeped out by Jack's hugging.

Thanks to all who contributed, the Twitter names of the guilty are: @FunkJem @markclapham @otherpete @justwillow @welshtroll - they're all lovely and if you're on Twitter you should probably follow them.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

TV Snark - Torchwood Miracle Day Episode Six

This episode was so full of filler I refuse to dignify it with a full recap. Rest assured nothing much happened for the majority of its fifty minute runtime. I have now collected together all the relevant bits of the episode and put them in one handy video.

I messed up and now can't make the video so now it's a half ass lazy recap instead.

Ernie Hudson is Stuart, a man who works for PhiCorp. Jack wants to find him as he thinks he knows everything that's going on. Turns out Stuart doesn't know anything and it's just an excuse to have Winston Zeddemore in an episode. Stuart hires someone to break into a top secret PhiCorp facility, that someone breaks in and finds... something. He then joins the 45 Club and kills himself. Oh yeah there's a "45 Club" that's for people who want to commit suicide. Apparently if you drop 45 floors then you'll fall into a permanent coma.

So the rest of the episode is spent following Jack as he stalks Stuart and everyone he works with. Jack eventually blackmails Stuart's secretary into helping him meet with Stuart and question him about PhiCorp over dinner. Stuart knows nothing. Other than another Russell T Davies 'mysteriously-named-thing-that's-supposed-sound-cool-and-enigmatic-but-isn't' The Blessed. That's all Jack finds out, it takes him half of the episode.

He's looking at me, Ray.

Back in the San Pedro holiday camp, Rex is still on the loose with his video camera, Esther is still pretending to be Esther The Camp Administrator, and Colin is still being creepy and mental. We find out that Colin cannot pronounce the word, 'badminton' he says it, 'bad mitten'. This happens several times and is always hilarious. Rex eventually bluffs his way into trouble in the camp as he cons an increasingly stupid procession of guards. Rex is eventually captured and interrogated by Colin. Colin uses a pen to stab Rex in the heart a bit. This leads to more amazing Meki Phifer-in-pain acting (by 'amazing' I do of course mean shit). Esther eventually blunders her way to Rex's rescue and she uses the signature move of professional wrestler Tazz to take out Colin.

Colin rises from the dead like a B-movie villain but Esther is saved by the unconvincing solider, Ralph. Rex and Esther then escape with their video footage and release it to the world. Torchwood's reveal of death camps to the world is dealt with in a throw away comment at the end of the episode. The evil American politicians don't want to close the death camps, because they are EVIL. Or something. I assume RTD learned everything he knew about American government and corporations from watching Robocop and bad conspiracy thrillers.

As for Gwen's storyline, she spends the episode running around the death camp in Britain. She spends her time sneaking her father out (again) and shouting at a doctor for being a FILTHY NAZI. Yes, the whole concentration camp parallel is dealt with as subtly as usual. Gwen yells, "concentration camp" a bit and then decides to burn everyone in the concentration camp by blowing it up. That'll teach those evil corpse burners! TASTE THE FLAMES OF IRONY.

Gwen returns to America and is informed via a mysterious figure, who hacks into her magic contact lenses, that her family have been kidnapped, she must bring Captain Jack to the EVIL CONSPIRACY. Oh hey, RTD has watched 24, it's that silly part of any 24 season where there's a mole in CTU or someone has their family held captive so they do loads of silly dangerous things that endanger the mission. And we get to see a cheaper, even sillier version! YAY.

NEXT EPISODE: Gwen tazes Jack and takes him for a car ride. They gave it away in the trailer.

Monday, 15 August 2011

TV Preview - The Wildest Dream: Conquest of Everest

This week a fascinating documentary about Everest will be aired on BBC Two at 9.00pm on Wednesday. It's a feature length tale called The Wildest Dream and it's about exploration and the challenge of surviving in Mount Everest's 'death zone'. Here's the official blurb:

Dressed in gabardine and wearing hobnailed boots, British explorer George Mallory risked everything in pursuit of his dream of reaching the top of Mount Everest. He was seen alive just 800 feet below the mountain’s peak, before the clouds closed in and he disappeared into legend – Mallory’s death stunned the world in 1924. In 1999, renowned mountaineer Conrad Anker discovered Mallory’s frozen body high in the mountain’s “death zone” and his life became intertwined with Mallory’s story. Remarkably all Mallory’s belongings were found intact on his body. The only think missing was a photograph of his wife, Ruth, which Mallory had promised to place on the summit if he succeeded. Haunted by the story, Anker returns to Everest to solve the enduring mystery surrounding the ill-fated expedition and the disappearance of one of the world’s greatest explorers.

There's some serious Hollywood talent in this documentary film, Liam Neeson narrates, Ralph Fiennes provides the voice of Mallory, and even Alan Rickman turns up to provide a brief voiceover. Neeson provides his trademark gentle but authoritative tone as narrator and maintains your interest throughout the film. Neeson could probably corner the market in bedtime story telling.

The tale of Mallory's efforts to conquer Everest is well presented and the film takes the time to try and explain the mentality of a climber, and put Mallory's desires in context with the 1920's golden age of exploration. Anker examines his own obsession with climbing and how this effects his relationship with his wife and family, which is then paralleled with Mallory's letters to his wife. It's a nice story telling techinque and provides much needed insight to the historical figure.

The footage of the mountain and the climb itself is stunning and is an impressive feat considering the conditions the crew must have faced. The free climbing scenes are particularly dizzying and effective. The Sherpas are also given screentime as their skills are obviously appreciated by the climbing crew. A Sherpa blessing scene before the climb begins is insightful and is even linked back to Mallory's own pre-climb blessing which produced a set of ominous visions.

A slight criticism would be that the death zone's lethality is never really explained fully. This is understandable though as the film is more a study of exploration and human spirit rather than a morbid exploration of one of the most hostile environments known to man. If you want to know more about the 'death zone' then there is an excellent blog post about the harsh conditions and irretrievable dead that litter the landscape here.

The film is just under 90 minutes long and airs on BBC2 Wednesday 17th August at 9pm. It's also repeated on Sunday 21st August at 5.30pm. Here's the trailer:

Sunday, 14 August 2011

TV Snark - Torchwood Miracle Day Episode Five

The halfway point, the middle, the half-full, the half-empty, the median. There are five more episodes to go after this one, I may not make it through them all.

Just kidding, I will be here for all of them. I've always been here, I will be here forever.

Help me.

The episode begins with Dr Juarez visiting the think tank, only it's not there anymore because the government has decreed that their work is done and they're going to go ahead with the Overflow Camp plan. Dr Juarez is not happy with this so she calls Rex and offers to join Torchwood. Not a wise move, Dr Juarez.

There is then another terrible, awful, gah-make-it-stop series of newsflashes. The gist of them is that there are now various categories of life that people will be subject to. We will have more on that later.

Gwen flies to Wales under the alias of Yvonne Pallister and doesn't have any problems going through customs or with blowing her cover as soon as she meets Rhys in his chauffeur disguise. Gwen meets with her mum who has made one of those crazy Hollywood movie corkboards full of newspaper clippings, red string, and Post-It Notes. Gwen's mum has gathered info on the Overflow Camps and has decided they're bad. She also knows where Gwen's dad is being held. Gwen visits the camp and moans at the military officer in charge until he threatens to have her arrested. Gwen discovers that PhiCorp are running the camps (via a handy leaflet). Gwen vows to break in and rescue her father.

Meanwhile back in California, Esther asks Jack if she's useless. If you have to ask, Esther... Jack decides to call her Useless Esther. In the meantime Dr Juarez has managed to fly over to LA to join Torchwood and Jack decides to tease Rex about their relationship. They deny it like coy teenagers and then Dr Juarez and Rex immediately hook up in Rex's room.

The Torchwood team discuss the categories, so here we go:

Category One - No brain function or technically dead (the average Daily Mail reader).
Category Two - Anyone with an injury (the broadest category ever - how injured do you have to be? A stubbed toe? Broken arm? Ketchup bottle up the bum?).
Category Three - Fine. Okay. No injuries at all. Nothing to see here.

Obviously three categories is ridiculous, which even Rex points out as he reckons he was a 1 and then improved to a 2. Yeah, this show is a proper number two.

In the stolen PhiCorp data from last episode, there is a blueprint for a camp in San Pedro. There's a mysterious 'module'. Get used to the word 'module' it will be said approximately 50,000 times during this episode.

Rex decides to go to the camp in his guise as a category two patient. Jack calls an ambulance for him and Rex is carted off to San Pedro but not before Jack tells the ambulance crew that Rex is gay. Haha. Then Dr Juarez and Esther decide that they don't want Rex to go undercover and have all the fun so they set off to infiltrate the camp. Jack is left on his own so decides to hang around the edges of his own show.

Meanwhile in the Millennium Stadium, Oswald Danes has arrived to give a speech to the masses at the Miracle Rally. Some people aren't happy about having a paedophile at this rally event and throw stuff at him. I roll my eyes and wonder how much more ridiculous this subplot can get. The answer is MUCH MORE.

Rex, Dr Juarez, and Esther all conveniently arrive at San Pedro camp at the same time. Rex is appalled by the coloured peg system that the doctors use on the patient, blue for two (because it rhymes), red for one, and white for three (that doesn't rhyme, unless you use 'shite' for white which still doesn't make sense but makes me feel better). Dr Juarez meets the creepy head of the camp (he's called Colin), she gives the old 'surprise inspection' blag that everyone pulls in TV shows. She claims that she's from Washington to inspect the camp, luckily for her, no-one checks with Washington.

Esther disguises herself as a member of admin staff and meets up with Rex. His cunning plan is to swap his peg to red so they'll take him to wherever it is the category one patients go.

Back in the Millennium Stadium (specifically the corridor that is used in every series of Doctor Who) Danes is menaced by a shadowy Captain Jack. Jack stands at the end of the corridor and then runs off.

The corridor doesn't look right without a TARDIS or Dalek in it.

Back in Wales, Gwen infiltrates the camp while disguised a nurse. Rhys is cunningly disguised as himself... in a lorry. Gwen finds her father and tries to remove him from the camp but he suffers another heart attack. Gwen immediately bottles it and shouts for help from the medical staff. So much for the stealthy extraction.

In San Pedro, Rex is taken to one of the modules where he finds himself in a room full of category one patients. Rex is using a handheld camera to film evidence, even though Torchwood have the magic contact lenses. I know they decided to tell Rex they only work for Gwen but seriously, now's the time to drop the joke and let him use them. Rex lets himself out of the module.

At the Miracle Rally, Jilly meets a mysterious man. He doesn't say who he works for but he does commend Jilly on doing a good job. He is mysterious.

Back in Wales, Gwen finds out that her dad has now been classed as category one. Gwen objects but the nurse is all, "I'm just doing what I'm told. Like a Nazi. Do you see?"

Back at Sega Miracle Rally, Jack confronts Danes and offers him a new speech to read out. It will expose PhiCorp (somehow). He warns Danes about the EVIL CONSPIRACY but Danes starts talking about sweaty armpits. My brain tries to throttle me before I hear any more of this dialogue. Jack tries to sweeten the deal by offering to kill Danes. It doesn't sound like much of a deal to me. Jilly catches Jack talking to Danes and takes Jack's photo. I don't know why that is relevant seeing as the EVIL CONSPIRACY and PhiCorp know what he looks like anyway. Maybe there's an EVIL EVIL CONSPIRACY who don't know who Jack is? I don't know why I'm trying to make sense of this.

Danes begins his speech and stumbles over his words. He decides to go off script and begins to mumble and ramble incoherently about evolution and angels. The script demands that the words be inspiring so the audience (all 12 of them packed into a tiny corner of the Millennium Stadium) applaud and Jilly sheds a tear. He concludes by claiming that everyone is an angel. It is shite.

At San Pedro, Colin turns on the module which is in fact an oven! JUST LIKE THE NAZIS DID IN THEIR CAMPS. DO YOU SEE? THE IMAGERY THE WONDERFUL IMAGERY. Dr Juarez is burned alive (or more accurately burned unalive) and Rex can't figure out how to open the door to rescue her so he films her death instead. Rex is an idiot.

NEXT EPISODE: Ernie Hudson! Colin goes even more mad! Gwen says, "This is just like a concentration camp" for those who found the Nazi allusions too subtle.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

DVD Review - Super

Super is a darkly comic and lo-fi take on the superhero business from the director of Slither. Starring Rainn Wilson and featuring an all star cast of fantastic character actors, it’s a tale of one man’s crusade against local criminals, “Shut up, crime!” Here’s the official trailer:

This is a great film but could be a difficult watch for those who don’t like their humour dripping in the blackest of black tar. There are elements of Kick-Ass, The Punisher, and quirky indie comedy in the script and they largely to combine a funny, tragic, beautiful mess of a film. The cast is brilliant and everyone in it gives a great performance, Ellen Page in particular is fantastic as the manically unstable ‘Boltie’. Nathan Fillion again displays his supreme comedic skills and shows in a brief few scenes why he should really be in bigger movies. Rainn Wilson manages to be vulnerable yet chilling as a one man wrench-wielding machine, a sympathetic yet ultimately terrifying portrayal of a man who has gone over the edge into a violence filled world of his own creation. The Crimson Bolt is basically nothing more than a maniac armed with a wrench, poor physical fitness, and a shoddy homemade costume.

Kick-Ass is the obvious comparison and this manages to be a less childish and fantastical take on vigilantism. The protagonist doesn’t suddenly become a real superhero with gadgets and wise cracking allies (one of Kick-Ass’s major crimes, other than being shit, was that it didn’t stick to its original ‘realism’ concept). Super is a film that will not please everyone, it is not a  mainstream superhero tale. It’s a dark, comedic, realistic take on vigilantism that also manages to have a heart at its dark centre. The violence can be swift, brutal, and shocking but there’s a strong moral core to the tale, even if it is delivered via a wrench to the face.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

TV Snark - Torchwood Miracle Day Episode Four

Welcome to the fourth episode, grab a cup of tea and read about all the stuff that happened.

We begin with Esther Drummond paying a visit to her crazy sister. Her sister has boarded up her house and refuses to let Esther in. There's a lot of crying and emotions and ACTING. I think you could make up a drinking game based on how many times Esther cries over the series. Esther is worried about her sister's children and thinks they may be in danger so she calls social services. I'm sure that will go well. Little does Esther know, a mysterious man in sunglasses has followed her and he works for the EVIL CONSPIRACY. The conspiracy uses a rotating triangle as its evil symbol, it reminds me of Chocky.

For the record, I used to be scared of those opening titles. Freaky stuff.

The Torchwood team arrive in Venice Beach, California. I hope they become lifeguards. Oh yeah, Torchwood DROVE to California from Washington DC. That would take, how long? A few days, almost a week? It must have been a great team bonding exercise as the crew get out of the car and are still talking to each other.

Meanwhile, Dr Juarez (along with the think tank) is taken to an abandoned hospital. It's going to be reopened as a facility to dump undying patients. I guess that would make it a hospice but a bad one because it's to hide unsightly dying people from everyone else. Let's call it a Wellness Camp.

The Torchwood team rent an apartment by the sea that looks perfectly fine and has a fairground unicorn in it. I don't know why it's there, it's from a carousel. It's one of those things I noticed and couldn't concentrate on anything else. I wonder what it's there for? How did it get there? Well, if the padding in this episode is anything to go by, maybe there'll be a special fairground unicorn episode.

Sorry, I got distracted there. It's revealed that the man who followed Esther to her sister's house has now followed Torchwood to LA. There's also a throwaway line about Jilly Kitzinger being freelance and not actually employed by PhiCorp so there's an out for her character, which will probably lead to her being recruited by Torchwood. Gwen also phones Rhys and tells him to collect her dad from hospital as she doesn't want him to stay somewhere safe and receive medical care.

We then cut to Oswald Danes who is hanging around in his hotel room like Alan Partridge in his Travel Tavern room. He even has Jilly show up as his PA like Alan's Lynn.

Jilly makes it clear that she doesn't like working with Danes as he's a child murderer (further reinforcing her redeemable qualities). Danes learns that there's a rival evangelist on the scene, Ellis Hartley Monroe. She thinks "Dead is Dead" and believes that people who should have died should stop being treated as living beings. Monroe thinks the 'dead' should be gathered up and placed someplace they can wait to die. That's a horrible position to take but still, she's not a paedophile.

We then have DRAMA as Rex visits his deadbeat dad. Rex steals some painkillers from him and then there's lots of shouting and DRAMA. If you've seen 30 Rock then it's just like Tracy Jordan's sad film about the ghetto.

The Torchwood team then plan a break-in of PhiCorp's LA office. The team plan to sneak in and steal some of PhiCorp's computers and replace them with their own so they won't know they're stolen (apart from when they try and use them and they don't work).

Jack and Gwen need to grab some biometrics from one of the PhiCorp employees, Nicholas Frumpkin. Jack and Gwen go to the park disguised as an American couple (complete with Gwen's bad US accent) and take a photo and voice grab of Frumpkin. It's like Sneakers but not good.

Back at the plague pit (or reopened hospital for the terminally undying), things are generally awful. There are old people and babies in there! And there's nothing apparently wrong with them! The horror! Monroe arrives and begins to talk to the assembled media about stinky undying people. Danes arrives too and decides to upstage Monroe by striding into the hospital and deciding to side himself with the undying. Danes gives an uplifting speech to the terminally stupid people in hospital who then decide to let Danes hug a baby. Uh oh. Danes says the baby will live forever and ever and ever and EVER. Yeah, that's creepy.

Monroe leaves in a strop and steps into her limo where she is promptly drugged unconscious by the EVIL CONSPIRACY. In LA the man who followed Esther and Torchwood there attacks Nicholas Frumpkin for his biometrics and takes one of his eyes. Because he's evil.

The Torchwood team go on their mission to PhiCorp but before they begin Esther calls social services and finds out that her sister's children have been taken into care. She's shocked that her sister has been sent to a psychiatric ward too. Well Esther, that's what happens when you report someone for being a mentalist.

Gwen and Jack enter the building, Gwen enters as a sales training business woman and Jack enters as a paper shredder delivery guy. Esther is crying during the mission, take a shot. Jack sets off the fire alarm so that everyone has to leave the building, they then break into the super secret server room using the biometric data they stole.

Rex is bored as he's not allowed to go on the mission. He fills his time by asking Esther what's wrong with her eyes as they're leaking. Esther reveals that her sister was sectioned and Rex gets even more frustrated with everyone around him being incompetent. Rex realises that Esther could have been followed, and indeed they have as the mysterious man arrives and beats and restrains Jack and Gwen. Rex now has to run up several flights of stairs to rescue them, which is a tough task for a man with a perforated heart.

Luckily for Rex the mysterious man likes to talk and blabs for a long time. He wants to find out something from Jack's mysterious past ("What did you give them so long ago?"). Jack refuses to tell him and just as the mysterious man is about to shoot Gwen and tell Jack the name of the EVIL CONSPIRACY, Rex bursts through the door and shoots the guy in the throat. Jack and Gwen are not grateful for the rescue.

Meanwhile Monroe is dropped into a car crusher by the EVIL CONSPIRACY (wasting a perfectly good vehicle in the process). It seems there's not enough room in the media for Monroe in the face of Danes' creepy platform of tolerance.

Back in LA Gwen gets a call from Rhys and finds out that her dad has been taken away by the government and placed in an Overflow Camp. Rhys is in trouble with the missus now.

NEXT EPISODE: Gwen's home movies! Yes, just like in the last series.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Torchwood The Lost Files - The House of the Dead

Cheer up Ianto, it might never happen. Oh wait, it did...

The third and final Lost File is The House of the Dead. I was hoping it would be based on a popular arcade game that I pumped many a pound into during my student days in Cardiff. Here's the original The House of the Dead:

I'm sure you can all agree that it's a work of art. I could get to the final boss on one credit but could never defeat him for some reason. There's also a terrible movie version of The House of the Dead that I have never seen. What was I talking about? Oh yeah, an audio play that has nothing to do with the video above but shares the same title. Sorry I'm wasting your time here, let me get on with it.

This play is set in the most haunted pub in Wales and blah, blah, here's the official blurb:

"The brewery have called 'time' and it's the last night at The House of the Dead - the most haunted pub in Wales. Barry the barman has invited renowned psychic, Mrs Wintergreen, to hold a special seance to mark the occasion, and there's a big crowd hoping for the chance of seeing their deceased loved ones for one last time. But when Jack arrives on the scene, he's determined to stop them. Ianto is puzzled by Jack's behaviour, and Gwen is suspicious. Why is Jack acting so strangely? Then the ghosts start arriving - and all hell breaks loose."

It's difficult to discuss this play in much depth without spouting massive spoilers, there's certainly a lot to discuss around the final 15 minutes of the play but I don't want to spoil anything. It's a slow tale with an absolutely terrible name for the villain, it actually made me laugh when it was revealed. The name reminded me of my attempts at writing superhero fiction when I was 12. Still, terrible name aside the villain is a decent concept and provides a reasonable and rational amount of peril without becoming too silly.

Performance wise we once again have John Barrowman struggling to emote convincingly but he does put in a lot of effort in this play. I'm willing to overlook the dud delivery of some of his lines providing he sounds like he's interested and not just idly flirting and quipping. Eve Myles doesn't feature much in this play, I can only assume she was busy elsewhere or the writer decided not to use her. It's a shame because Eve seems to be the most comfortable audio performer. Gareth David-Lloyd puts in a good shift and handles his scenes very well, the writer gave Ianto plenty to do in this play and David-Lloyd steps up to the challenge. For all the good that the regulars do, the majority of the guest artists undo it by performing in the usual assortment of cod-Valleys accents.

This play is worth a listen if only to hear a decent Barrowman performance and a solid script that makes good use of character history and contains hardly any dialogue clunkers (apart from that villain name, what were they thinking?). The play can be found on YouTube but don't look at the comments as people can't resist posting spoilers.

It's a shame that the TV show appears to have abandoned the episodic format for its stories and moved onto ponderous season long storylines, because occasionally Torchwood can strike lucky and provide entertaining episodes. This episode and Submission before it prove that some writers can craft interesting plots and (reasonably) witty dialogue without turning the show into Carry On Aliens. Alas, Miracle Day and Children of Earth have been ratings hits in the UK so it seems that this collection of audio plays are perhaps the last of a dying breed.