After having shown that it can put sex, violence and language to the air, "Ghost Machine" didn't feel the need to flaunt its "mature viewers" tag. But it did demonstrate that, so far, Torchwood is pretty standard SF fare. A statement I wouldn't have made a few years ago, but bear in mind that Firefly, Lost, BSG and even Doctor Who have all raised the bar.
On the plus side, we finally get to see someone other than the Doctor and Rose, excuse me, Jack and Gwen, do something, with new layers added to Owen, the rambunctious ... now what is it that he does again in the team? Ah, wikipedia says he's the medic. I think it's been to the show's detriment that none of the supporting cast have made any impact so far. On the other hand, it's only episode three, so maybe some patience is in order.
Random comments mostly jotted down while the episode was in progress:
- Was Gwen possessed or just stupid when she pressed the button on the alien device? And then she has the gall to warn Jack about doing the same?? But of course, we needed to get into the story, and this was faster than an injection of cordrazine.
- The old man (Flanagan) unfolds his story terribly quickly and at great length; again the need for speed driving some contrivances.
- As expected - Gwen is developing boyfriend troubles as a result of her involvement with Torchwood. He seems a terribly nice guy though. He'd have to be to increase the emotional stakes once Gwen (inevitably?) hooks up with Captain Jack.
- Terribly convenient that all the apparitions have their full name pinned on them or called out. Once again, contrived.
- More (blatant) Jack/Gwen sexual tension buildup. Guns make her hot? What is this, a John Woo fantasy? Next week: decon gel.
- Though I like that as a cop she doesn't know how to shoot a gun. Guess it's the difference between British and American police.
- Russell T Davies, as I've mentioned, takes his cues from Buffy/Angel, and like Joss Whedon he's better at emotion than plot. (And while this episode wasn't written by him, I'm sure his guiding and rewrite hand is all over every script.) So the sequence where Gwen uses the alien device to recall happier moments at home made an impact, especially when abutted against the gun training scene with Jack.
- Is it just me or is John Barrowman turning into Harry Connick Jr?
- Owen is affected by his run-in with the "ghosts" - is he going to do something stupid? He takes a swig from the bottle. Of course he is.
- Of course, if this was an American show he would have brought a gun with him. And just confronting Morgan rather than doing violence upon him shows some restraint by the writer and the character.
- Funky chase music after the intense confrontation with Morgan. Not sure if the segue worked. Abrupt changes of tone can work, but in this case I think we would have been better staying with Owen's mood for a bit longer. (Especially if his anger would figure in the climax, which it did.)
- Bernie is terrified of being killed out in the street. So he goes running out into the street. Uhuh.
- Hmm. I thought that there was going to be a big mis-lead and that someone else would turn out to be the rapist/killer. The clues were there: that we never actually saw the murder, just the lead-up to it, and that Owen cut Bernie off when he started to talk about the man he saw with the girl under the bridge. But I was wrong there.
- Morgan deliberately runs into Gwen's knife? Why???? Oh, "He wanted to die." I don't know. Terribly convenient and not convincing. The ending felt contrived to pull off a final twist and make some statement about fate or something.
- Was the guy in the suit (looks up wikipedia again: Ianto Jones) missing for most of the episode, or was he just a total non-entity??
Torchwood's gotten off to a fairly confident start, but so far it's not got its hooks into me. Maybe because there's something a bit "teehee" about the language/sex/violence ("Ooowaar, we can say 'fuck', we can show a guy wanking"). Or maybe because I'm too conscious of the parallels to Davies' Doctor Who (mysterious and dashing leading man - check, developing emotional attachment to pretty female Earthling - check) and Whedon's Buffy/Angel to think of it as its own entity yet. We'll see how it develops.
And take advantage of your ensemble, will you?