What is it with Torchwood? Mad as a bag of sonic screwdrivers, this oddly regional series (that region being Wales) returned to BBC 2 in all its genre-bending, inconsistent and occasionally wonderful glory tonight at 9 PM. I’m not entirely sure how to judge Torchwood.
This is what goes through Hocking’s head during a typical episode:
First minutes, the teaser: Observing that this kind of thing, a punchy intro, works much better on Lost.
Ten minutes in: Have laughed at several of the one liners, but struggling to see any real sincerity through the postmodern fog.
Twenty minutes in: Have winced at crap special effects that hark back — and not in a good way — to the original run of Doctor Who. (I’m sorry, Weng-Chiang, but those giant rats guarding your lair are so obviously normal-sized rats in EXTREME CLOSE UP. Get OVER yourself.)
Thirty minutes in: Have felt my liberal heart warmed by some en passant gay references that don’t — perhaps because of my knowledge of the producer — feel gimmicky.
Forty minutes in: Bite down on my need to voice the words ‘Gwen’ ‘teeth’ ‘gap’ and ‘get a bus through’.
At a point between then and end: Have nodded in appreciation at the one special effects element that finally worked, and wonder if Torchwood actually might be, on some level, quite good.
The end: Raise an eyebrow at a couple of twists in the story that demonstrate the scriptwriter, though not 100% capable of writing science fiction, knows his or her drama.
Overall, questions remain. Why doesn’t it have a proper theme tune? How long before John Barrowman introduces his fine fore-fendered friend to Gwen in a show-stopping genre-exploding music number that involves a troupe of dancing Nargs (or whatever those dumbs aliens in the cells are called)?