Friday, 8 August 2008

Torchwood 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang': Rating 'C'

Torchwood recap writing checklist.
Comfy chair (check)
Laptop: (check)
Episodes of Torchwood and no questions about how they were acquired: (check)
Ongoing supply of alcoholic beverages: (check)

Checklist done, roll on Season 2.

A Cardiff street at night; an old lady presses the button to cross the road; a car pulls up at the light. The old lady looks stunned: it’s some kind of blowfish man driving a red sports car. As she stares in astonishment, Blowfish man waves her across the road. Little old lady crosses, the light turns green, and Blowfish man takes off. Up roars the VOC behind stunned old lady and Gwen asks, very politely, if old lady has seen a Blowfish driving a sports car. Old lady points and off roars the VOC. As it powers down the deserted Cardiff street, the old lady says, “Bloody Torchwood”.

Hah! What a great start. I’m not even going to make my comment about Torchwood being the “most famous secret organisation ever”.

Inside the VOC, it’s technobabble business as usual. Tosh is viewing x-rays and DNA profiles of Blowfish man, whose species is apparently unknown. Banter, banter in the car as everyone does their usual thing of talking over each other. Ianto wants to know if they need special weapons; Gwen is alternately ribbing Owen about being scared of a big fish man and chastising him for driving too quickly in populated areas. Tosh actually says, “there are high levels of algae,” much as if she were talking about radiation. They all agree that Jack would know what to do. But, oh no, the Cap’n is still missing. What angst.

There’s a car chase, then Owen gets Gwen to hold the wheel while he shoots out the car’s tyres. He blows on the gun ‘cause he’s a prat. Car chase over and...

...Blowfish man has run into a house and taken hostages!

Why would Mr Blowfish man stop to let an old lady cross the road and then take hostages? Don’t know? Me either. Still it was a killer first scene so, what the hell?

Blow man has a gun to some girl’s head and a man is lying on the ground injured. Tosh somehow analyses his blood composition with a portable machine-that-goes-ping and declares the fish “wired” on cocaine.

Then the Blow man starts to make a rather strange speech about how the Torchwood four are the “teacher’s pets” (?!) and how Jack has left all his little kiddies alone. Then he starts to psychoanalyse them. Oh dear, and this was all going so well. He actually calls Gwen “the carer” rather than the “hypocritical bitch” and says Ianto has been promoted above his abilities, so he obviously can’t know them that well.

As they stand shaking at his “rapier-like” wit and stunning “insight”, Jack walks in and shoots the Blowster straight in the head. “Hey kids, did you miss me?” he says, and laughs.
One thing you can say for the guy, he sure does a great entrance.

Flick, flick, flick...Torchwood. Series 2. Mr RTD has made great promises about this season; not the least of which is that he’s going to fix it. And as someone who’s actually writing this on a Friday night, here’s hoping.

So, onto the Hub where poor Jackie Jack has been pushed to the background as the gang get on with the job. He notes that they seem to have done fine without him and Gwen pushes him and yells that they kind had to; what with the whooshy disappearing act he pulled. Jack apologises and then admits that he left because he found his Doctor. Awww. Nice delivery. Owen asks if the Doctor was able to fix him and he says, “what’s to fix? You don’t mess with this level of perfection.” Which is a nice way of saying, no actually he couldn’t and he thought I was a big big freak.

He then looks meaningfully at Ianto and says, “I came back for you”. This is quickly corrected to “all of you” but he’s seriously still looking at Ianto. Thank the Lord he got over Miss Incopetant. He and Ianto have far more sexual tension, as well as a suitably-disturbing unequal power relationship.

Beep beep beep beep says the machine that goes “ping” and Tosh declares rift activity. Gwen still looks pissed, even as they go back to work, and we get a close-up of Blowfish man lying on the bed in the germ-ridden autopsy room that modern medical science forgot. He has something in his pocket that’s pulsating, and no, that’s not a joke.

It’s still night in Cardiff town. On top of a building, somewhere, a vortex forms and out steps James Marsters. Oh Spike, where have you been? I have missed my Blondie Bear so much.
There are two guys arguing on the rooftop and my Platinum baby goes over to investigate. Oh alright, pedantic ones, he’s lost his peroxide, but since his character in this episode is an almost exact, if one-dimensional, replica of his Buffy character, I stand by my nickname.

Who would have thought Chris Chibnall would rip something off a Buffy episode. Which reminds me; I totally haven’t introduced this episode at all. Man, am I off my game. It’s “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang” by the Chib.

So, Blondie Bear walks over to the pair, one of whom is threatening the other with a knife. Spikey baby throws Man 1 off the building, apparently just for kicks, and tells Man 2 to run off and tell no one. “Thirsty now,” says my Platinum baby and off he heads into the seemingly-eternal Cardiff night.

Painful scene in some bar somewhere; I won’t elaborate. Suffice it to say, he seems to want to get someone’s attention. Then we cut to the street where tonight’s first nameless victim is lying with the contents of his skull across the pavement surrounded by our fearless Torchwood team.
Tosh is still scanning. Oh, that’s because she’s apparently the “technician with her cold devices”, according to the Blowster. It’s a good thing someone told us about these character’s one-dimensional personality traits in the beginning of the ep: as a television audience we’re far too stupid to have worked it out ourselves after an entire season.

Tosh says there’s residual Riftmouth energy on the legs, arms and shoulders and Jack says this is because he was grabbed and pushed. They decide they have a bipedal pusher (OMG a cyclist did it) on the loose and Jack orders them back to the Hub. Gwen asks if he’s in charge again and Jack says he was hoping for a power struggle followed by some naked wrestling. He actually manages to deliver it in a way that doesn’t make me vomit so either the dialogue is getting better or John Barrowman is.

As they leave the crime scene, we see Constable Cutie who asks Gwen if it’s one of her “spooky do’s” (spooky do’s??) and then Gwen walks off without thanking him and he thanks himself on her behalf. Ooh, there’s tension between Gwen and a man she’s in no way involved with and has barely seen for six months. Now that’s tension.

Back at the VOC# Jack’s time thingy on his wrist beeps and Ianto looks worried because it “never beeps”. Out of it comes a hologram of my Blondie Bear who says Jack’s probably investigated the Riftmouth fluctuation and found the body and would he like a drink? Then he does an Obi-Wan Kenobi impression that was funnier 25 Obi-Wan Kenobi impressions ago. Off Jack goes to get his man; instructing his team to stay put and not come after him. Considering he’s been back all of 2.5 seconds, they’re understandably pissed. Tosh says they can track him, but Ianto’s already on the road calling a cab.

#Can I just note that they’ve locked the VOC but left the lights on? Can you imagine that conversation? Excuse me RAC; my unregistered car that belongs to a top-secret alien-fighting organisation has a flat battery, could you send a roadside assistance van? Yes, my policy’s under the name Torchwood. Yes, Torchwood. But we’re very very top secret, so never mention the name Torchwood again or I’ll have to wipe your memory. How can you recognise the van? It’s the black one with the word ‘Torchwood’ written on its side.

At the bar, Jack walks in to find my Spikey drinking his way through the top shelf. I have so wanted to do this, but also like my liver so never did. Damn shame.

There’s a Mexican standoff scene with appropriate music and guns. Not sure if it was supposed to be funny but it came across as lamely derivative. I’ve seen it before. You’ve seen it before. They walk toward each other with um “guns cocked” and at the last minute they start making out instead of killing each other. Was anyone surprised by this? I wasn’t.

Then they start punching each other as Blur’s Song 2 plays. The fine line between sex and violence, life and death, hatred and passion. Buffy did this way better and with James Marsters as well. Funny that. Who’d have thought Chris Chibnall would rip...oh hang on, I already said that. Where was I? Oh yes, Spike and the Cap’n are “pounding” each other.

In the cab, Tosh has got a report of a disturbance at the same location as the SUV and they tell the police they’ll deal with it. There’s some speculation as to who the guy in the hologram was and Gwen pronounces that it’s just Jack being Jack: coming and going as he pleases, using a fake name, coming from a different timezone etc. Gwen says it drives her crazy, Ianto looks thoughtful and then says, “it’s more fun when he’s around though,” and everyone goes, “yeah!” That made me giggle and I don’t know why. I guess my fluctuating crush on Ianto is in the ascendant again.

Back in the bar of broken glass and imminent personal discovery, the two men finish their spat with guns pointed at each other’s heads. They swap current false identities and decide to have a drink instead of killing each other. Blondie Bear’s name is Captain John Hart.

Oh God, how obvious can you get? Geez, do you think the latest Captain JH supposed to represent who our own Captain JH used to be? Is the Cap’n’s past very very literally coming back to haunt him? Is he about to be confronted by those aspects of himself he most dislikes? Ya think? *Bangs head on keyboard, pours martini*

Thank the Lord for alcohol.

Apparently, that’s what our characters think as well as they go up to the bar and BB starts sculling a bottle of “vodka” (the universal drink in TV land because it’s clear so they can use water). The Cap’n looks incredulously at him. “So,” he says, “how was rehab?”


Then they ruin my 0.4 second giggle by having him list all the things he was in rehab for: drink, drugs, sex and murder. Jack thinks “murder rehab” is hysterical and John agrees because the “odd kill doesn’t matter”.

“You clean now?” asks Jack thereby winning tonight’s ‘dumbest question ever award’. John insists he’s kicked everything and, with blood still dribbling down his chin and mingling with the spilt vodka, declares he’s living like a priest. Mutual giggles.

That’s not me this time; that’s them. This dialogue is so predictable as to be painful. I’d skip this scene but we’re about to be imparted some important information. Here it is.

Jack asks about the time agency so “Captain John Hart” must be a fellow Time Agent. Anyway, to cut a very long story short: the time agency has been disbanded; only seven of them left; John misses Jack, never the same without him, but Jack doesn’t want John on his turf; John is annoyed because he’s used to being welcome on Jack’s turf, if you know what I mean.

Their pleasant reunion is disturbed by the rest of the Torchwood team, which starts banter, introductions and the revelation that Jack and John were once stuck in a time loop and spent the equivalent of five years together. John, apparently, was a “good wife”. There’s some clichéd “mine is bigger than yours” repartee about the Time Agency wrist bands. Tosh declares him cute, Ianto silently declares himself jealous.

Finally, they get into why Spikey is here and it’s to save the Earth from three radiation cluster bombs that were sucked through the Rift. Sounds like bunkum to me. Is Jack going to buy it?
“There’s only one problem,” declares JH2 and it turns out he doesn’t know where they are and was hoping to draw on their local knowledge. Tosh technobabbles and the peroxided one is impressed. Jack unconvincingly lays down the rules and we’re off into the main plot and only after an entire 15 minutes of extreme painfulness. I should note for the record that I am also into next week in an entirely literal, not-at-all-metaphorical kind of way.

At the Millennium Centre, Jack is showing John the dimensionally-transcendental entrance to the Hub, which Spikey refers to as “sewer chic’. Jack asks him to disarm and, please Lord, let’s not have the cliché of “so many weapons, too few orifices”. If an innumerable quantity of weapons hits the plate Ianto is holding, I’m taking a week off. week later... I’m actually giving up a public holiday to finish recapping this episode. Maybe I should save myself some time: John lies, Torchwood employee’s lives are imperilled, Jack gets pissed but it all turns out ok in the end. The end. Also, this recap is probably as boring to read as it was to write so I’m not entirely sure why I’m soldiering on. A vague hope that episode 2 is better, perhaps.

So, JH2 has been disarmed and now we have yet more talking in inexplicable corridors (where is this supposed to be, BTW, or is this place also dimensionally-transcendental and rooms and corridors keep appearing whenever people want to have long conversations about their feelings?). Gwen and Jack are walking through the Hub and Gwen wants some answers to some simple questions like, “what is the Time Agency?” and where did Jack go when he disappeared. Jack gives the Doctor’s “here and now and this is me” speech almost word for word and says that he saw the end of the world but realised that Torchwood was where he belonged. He takes her hand and she has an engagement ring on it. Ok, he’s acting like they were involved and now he’s pissed that she’s going to marry someone else. Where did this come from?

Anyway, Jack’s acting all betrayed or something because Gwen Cooper’s marrying the guy she’s been seeing for like three years. Oh, and apparently she’s marrying him because “no one else would have her.” Way to go on overcoming your self-absorption over the summer, Gwen. You just keep the man who loves you around as your backup plan; nothing bitchily heartless about that at all.

So, back to work and Tosh has called the gang into the briefing room a.k.a. “the water feature” and told them she’s found three energy spikes that must be the three cluster bombs. Gwen and Spikey take charge and assign teams (Jack and Ianto, Owen and Tosh, Gwen and Spikey) much to the Cap’n’s annoyance. Gwen has started to call Spikey ‘Vera’. Vera it is.
Jack takes Gwen aside and starts laying down the law on working with Vera. There’s actually a no-kissing rule *sigh*.

Anyway, Gwen’s plan is to get Vera talking in the hope that he’ll let something slip. She is so out of her depth, but instead of telling her this Jack says she’s “clever”. Poor deluded man. So off she goes, along with the rest of the teams.

It’s still night in Cardiff: Gwen is rather obviously and inexpertly trying to probe Vera for information at a shipping container storage facility. She takes a call from Reese who announces he has a new job and while she’s on the call Vera slips away. When he comes back up behind her again, she swings around with the gun and he calls her jumpy and untrusting, using it as way to raise her suspicions about Jack the former conman.

Now that he’s put her off balance, they go into the shipping container and find the device. He swings her around and kisses her and, as he starts on how frigid the 21th century is, she collapses. Oh, apparently it’s paralysing lipgloss. Let’s not ask how it failed to paralyse him since it’s you know, on his lips. Questions like that lead to madness and death. Or is that just syphillus? Something else I suspect you can get from Vera.

So, we leave Gwen the genius dying slowly in the bottom of the shipping container and move across town to Owen and Tosh in a giant warehouse with no lighting and loads of boxes.
It’s now an entire month since I started this recap and I am still stuck in the warehouse with Owen ‘shagging just doesn’t seem enough anymore’ Harper who’s rather eerily repeating a message I had on my answering machine once. It went something like this:

Drunken friend: I need a smart girl, like you, you’re a smart girl, she’s just not that smart, I need a smart girl, like you, ‘cause you’re smart....*tries to hang up phone but keeps missing, giggles until answering machine tape runs out*.

It says something of my extraordinary stupidity that I didn’t realise this meant he was interested in me. Perhaps I should add this to my Top 100 reasons I’m still single. Recapping Torchwood episodes on a weekend should probably be on there as well. Tosh’s number 1 would be “still pining after Owen even though he’s a tosser with a face that’s every makeup artist’s challenge and whose one shirtless scene still makes me wake up with nightmares at 3am” but before she can do something stupid like tell him, he finds the device. Even as he yells ‘Eureka’, Vera appears and takes it. He shoots and we’re supposed to think Owen is dead. No such luck, I suspect.

Dear God, this is the most boring recap ever. Perhaps it’s a subconscious ploy on my behalf to elicit volunteers to take over for the rest of the season. Anyone? Anyone? Unfortunately, I pay nothing and only three people ever read them (yes, that’s you buddy...sprung).

In an office building somewhere or other, Jack is once again developing the art of inappropriate comments to co-workers as he suggests some naughty photocopying. I know when I’m feeling amorous about the guy down the hall it’s the photocopier that immediately springs to my mind. I mean, it’s not just a photocopier, it’s a multi-function unit. Ooh, photocopying, scanning and printing. *The Recapper excuses herself while she has a cold shower*

Back from bathroom to find that Jack is actually asking Ianto out on a date. Oh, he was “thinking about Ianto while he was away”? What a lying liar who lies. We all know who you were lusting after Jacko boy and he’s more than 1000 years old and has the figure of a matchstick. Ianto basically says yes to the date but gains about 7000 Recapper character points by telling Jack that some fantasies should be kept to yourself and their date will not involve an office. Then he declares that he’ll search this floor and relegates Jack to the roof because he’s “good on roofs”.


Up on the aforementioned roof, Jack ‘where’s my helicopter shot’ Harkness, is apparently looking for the artefact by staring pensively at the sky and rubbing his hair. He’s probably wondering how’s it’s physically possible for it to still be dark when they’ve been running around town for at least 20 hours. On the floor below, Ianto is rifling through drawers but he stops when he hears the lift and draws his gun. As he goes to investigate, Vera appears behind him and orders him to go save his friends or get a bullet in his head.

Back up on the roof, Jack has finally worked out that the device is literally right in front of him. Oh no, it took him 10 minutes to find it in plain view and now Vera is upon him. What does he want? He wants Jack to join him in a life of crime but Jack’s not up for it and Vera pushes him off the building. Another moment of tense expectation. Why oh why do the writers think we care about watching Jack dying over and over when we know it doesn’t stick?

The VOC powers along the highway with Ianto ‘here’s your helicopter shot’ Jones at the wheel. He gets to the warehouse to find Owen shot and Tosh alright but before he can run to find Gwen we...

...cut to some building somewhere where Vera is doing something. Oh, he’s come out the downstairs of the building into the endlessly interminable Cardiff night to pick up the so-called “cluster bomb” and rob Jack’s lifeless body. Yes, I know, that was a tautology. No fire bombs please. As Vera walks off we...

...cut again to the shipping containers where Tosh and the gang are “racing against time” to save a major character who’s signed a season-long contract...oh no, will they succeed? They find her, they save her. You know, I spent my entire afternoon at work today renaming tables and saving them in a different directory so they can be amended while keeping the originals. And even as my brain dribbled out of my head and I temporarily forgot where I was or even my own name, it was still more stimulating than this.

Thank whatever God you happen to worship, it’s finally dawn, which means this episode is almost over. And if you’ve made it this far, thank you for caring, although I suspect you’ve stabbed out your eyes by now and possibly lined up something more exciting to do. Like laundry. Actually, speaking of laundry...

...Back at the Hub, and back from that load of towels I just washed and pegged as well as the episode of The Hollowmen I watched while waiting for the load to finish (I’m working on the Powerpoint ROFL), Vera has his canisters and he removes some pieces of metal and arranges them in a triangle before robbing the Blowfish’s dead body for a pyramid.

Did you know one of my brothers very nearly left the Defence Forces for Jetstar LOL? I have to tell him to jump onto ABC’s iView and watch that episode. *Plug the ABC, plug the ABC* Turning down the rights to Torchwood was the most intelligent thing they’ve done all decade.

What am I supposed to be writing about? Oh yes, the exciting denouement to the most astonishing 45 minutes of non-plot I’ve ever seen. Finding the main plot point in this is like bird-watching and trying to find...a...a...really...rare bird. Um, as far as analogies go, that could have been more, well, analogous.

So, just before Vera can place his pyramid into the triangle, which would have been way way more tense if we had any idea what this was supposed to achieve other than just look like a really pretty paperweight, guns cock behind him and it’s the “fearful four”. I do like Ianto’s suit. I know it’s so 2005 but pink work shirts do look good.

The Dusky Grasswren, that’s a rare bird. I should have said “finding the main plot points in this is like bird-watching and trying to find a Dusky Grasswren”.

So, the gang have bounced back, Jack can’t die, there’s something in there about the beauty of Planet Earth blah blah blah, blah blah blah and we finally found out what John was all about and it was all about money. Except his girlfriend double-crossed him or something and the pyramid actually contains a bomb that latches onto John because it can apparently sense the DNA of whomever killed her (should I even bother when we’re so near the end? No? M’Kay). It’s going to explode in 10 minutes, no one can stop it but Ianto has his stopwatch so he can count down gleefully and loudly. Still waiting btw for stopwatch theories. If you’ve actually read this far, hit the little ‘comment’ button at the bottom and give it a go. It’s a stopwatch.

Anyhoo, John wants help but everyone’s enjoying the moment too much so he grabs Gwen and cuffs her to him. What’s that you say? Gwen hasn’t been as annoying this episode so this moment is not quite as pleasurable as it could be? So unfortunately true.
Anyway, Gwen comes up with a plan to save the city but not herself. It involves an heretofore unmentioned “rift prediction program” and being in the carpark where Vera first came through. And, oh my Lord, is that actual acting on the part of the Masters? As Ianto counts down on the stopwatch we have a moment of genuine tension as Gwen drags Vera out of the Hub and Owen and Jack...mix blood samples.

“This better work”, says the Jackmeister and Owen says, “trust me, I’m an improviser”. OMG a joke and an actually actual subtle one. Hah!

At the carpark, Gwen is dragging Vera into the rift while he protests that the entire point of a team is a last-minute rescue and where is his. Wow, I just paused and I really hate Tosh’s shirt. I have no words to describe it. It’s a normal shirt with another one over it tied beneath her breasts with some long tassel hanging down. Urgh. Nice jacket but please girl, close it.

So, Gwen’s about to sacrifice herself for some as-yet-undetermined quantity of people that could range from Torchwood only to the entire planet or something, but before she leaves she turns and says, “Tell...” and I think Rhys but stupid me, that’s just the man she’s engaged to. No, the sentence is, “Tell Jack...” and the arrival of that stated individual thankfully cuts that sentence short as my mind reels as to the possibilities. “Tell Jack...” no, I can’t even go there because if there’s any possibility that the end of it was “I love him”, I swear I would throw this laptop over the balcony, closely followed by myself, although I’m only on the first floor so I doubt I’ll go far.

Owen and Jack screech onto the carpark, leap onto John and inject him with something or other. As Ianto counts down to 1 second, the device detaches itself and Jack throws it into the rift. There’s an explosion and oh my God, it’s dark again because apparently they’ve gone back in time. To make us all feel better there’s some great science to back up the plot resolution.

Gwen: Why did injecting blood into John’s heart cause the device to fall off?
Owen: Because
Gwen: Why did throwing a bomb into the rift cause a temporal displacement that sent us all back to the moment when John first came through?
Jack: Because

Whew, I’m glad that’s explained. Here I was thinking it made absolutely no sense.
So, we roll to a close. Jack orders John out of his town, Gwen punches him (go Gwen!! Well, there’s a first for everything), and off goes John. Bound to be last words. Come on Johnny boy, last words. You know you want to. Some bombshell. This is a Chibnall ep after all and it is nothing if not predictable.

Oh, here it is. As the time vortex gathers around him, Vera takes a deep breath and says, “by the way, I found Grey”. Jack looks stunned and John is gone.
“Who’s Grey?” they ask as they line up very naturally in a phalanx. My team never does this. Maybe I should tell them to. Well, we’re statisticians you know and we have to get our laughs somewhere. Jack denies it means anything and off they walk. I think he just bumped into that camera. The end.


McMiff said...

As you new team currently consists of 4 people can we actually phalanx?
2 3
Next Film title they rip off: "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" its the one where the VOC sprouts wings and flies...

genfie said...

There are four people in my team? I think I've lost one. Better do a recount on Monday. Knowing the wit that is the Chib, they'll cleverly disguise the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang "homage" by calling it Chitty Chitty Clang Clang or something equally as tangential.

Anais said...

Good for people to know.