Torchwood Mini-Reviews: Season 1

Torchwood logoTaking a break from Doctor Who after Series 3 (and before facing the annoyance that is Donna Noble), we then started re-watching Torchwood. Here are my comments on Season 1 (2006).

I’ll be honest, we had given up after a few episodes the first time around. I think Edmund had stopped watching after 5 episodes, and I made it through 5 more.  This time around, I was paying more attention to who wrote what since I was using the Wikipedia info and adding my ratings and comments.  I figured out that lead writer Chris Chibnall is the one that annoys me most. He can’t write credible dialogue for this show, at least in Season 1. That’s odd, because he wrote two episodes of Life on Mars and I didn’t notice anything wrong, so maybe Torchwood just wasn’t a good fit. I also noticed that every single employee at Torchwood’s Cardiff branch is bisexual. As employment criteria go, I’m not convinced this is relevant to salvaging dangerous alien technology.

The ratings I use go thus:

  1. This is embarrassing.  Go away.
  2. Weak.  I’m not going to try convincing my friends to watch the show based on this.
  3. Average for a Torchwood episode.
  4. That was a good one!
  5. One of the best ever.

As a result of grading on the curve, a 3 for Torchwood is a worse episode than a 3 for Doctor Who.

No Title Score Comments Code Written by Directed by Original airdate
1 Everything Changes 3 Not bad, it’s a start. Not riveting, but Gwen Cooper is likeable. 1.1 Russell T Davies Brian Kelly 22 October 2006
2 Day One 1.5 Urp. What an awful clichéd plot. Seriously, we needed not only to go there, but right after the pilot episode? Aliens coming to take rape our innocent women and turn them into deadly sluts? It only gets to a score of 1.5 because I need to reserve the 1s for even worse episodes. 1.2 Chris Chibnall Brian Kelly 22 October 2006
3 Ghost Machine 3 Not a bad premise, and some attempt at creative story-telling. However, of course we have to focus on a rape-murder. 1.3 Helen Raynor Colin Teague 29 October 2006
4 Cyberwoman 1 The cyberbabe episode! Yes, when the Cybermen decided to accelerated the conversion process for the battle of Canary Wharf, they actually replaced the 60-second “remove the brain, shove it in a Cyberman body” method with “take curvy woman, garnish her with latex webbing and plexiglass thigh covers, put her in heels for stomping, and plug in the head frame–over the course of hours” method. And we get treated to the umpteenth version of “But MY loved one can be saved.” Also, pretty much everyone shooting at Cyberbabe ignores the fact that SHE HAS VIRTUALLY NO ARMOUR. 1.4 Chris Chibnall James Strong 5 November 2006
5 Small Worlds 2.5 An attempt to focus on ancient mysterious powers from Earth itself instead of aliens. Estelle could have been a great character but is underused. If the fairies are that powerful, why have we not heard more about them? They are not particularly discreet in this episode. 1.5 Peter J. Hammond Alice Troughton 12 November 2006
6 Countrycide 3 The episode develops some spooky atmosphere but then overshoots the mark. Yet another episode where we have to explore the sexual tensions between just about every possible pair of colleagues at Torchwood. Seriously, I don’t care. Work colleagues are the least sexy category I can think of. Also, suggestion of impending rape when Cannibal Leader talks to Toshiko about “tenderizing the meat.” Does writer Chris Chibnall have a thing for rape, or is he just lazy? 1.6 Chris Chibnall Andy Goddard 19 November 2006
7 Greeks Bearing Gifts 2 It would be a 3 for the plot, but the dialogue is so very poorly written that I wanted to throttle the writer. Also, I want to know why the writers of Torchwood seem to think every single person is fundamentally bisexual. I have nothing against showing non-hetero relationships, but so far Jack, Gwen, Toshiko, Owen and Ianto all have been painted with the same brush. Is it an employment criterion at Torchwood? 1.7 Toby Whithouse Colin Teague 26 November 2006
8 They Keep Killing Suzie 3 Meh. It felt like this episode was cobbled together to massage the continuity. Also—shooting the glove? Is shooting the universal solution? 1.8 Paul Tomalin & Dan McCulloch James Strong 3 December 2006
9 Random Shoes 4 My favourite episode to date. Interesting way to for the plot to unfold, and some credible emotions injected in the story. Alas, Jacquetta wrote no other Torchwood episodes. 1.9 Jacquetta May James Erskine 10 December 2006
10 Out of Time 3 This episode was actually rather charming in places and the first third was quite good. But it suffered from its closed episode structure; this story would have been so much better spread as a thread over several episodes. The fact that as a self-contained episode it contained nothing for the protagonists to really do just shot the rhythm through the head, and we only had time to see some human connections form before they were written off. 1.10 Catherine Tregenna Alice Troughton 17 December 2006
11 Combat 3 I was disappointed, I had hoped Noel Clarke would write a better episode, but this was all pretty run-of-the-mill, predictable. Some points for the suggestion that Jack is a monster. It’s been made in the show before, but this time it was more shown that told which is better on television. Gwen goes seriously off the rails.
1.11 Noel Clarke Andy Goddard 24 December 2006
12 Captain Jack Harkness 3 I would have liked a good “coming out” story but this one was not only telegraphed, it went to the wrong address—by which I mean that the way it was written was so completely unbelievable, it ruined the moment. The “treasure hunt” across decades was a good idea, but the reason given was ridiculous (they were missing half an equation, not half the parameters!) 1.12 Catherine Tregenna Ashley Way 1 January 2007
13 End of Days 1 Holy crap, that was badly written. And badly directed. Everybody was stupid. No, insane. No wait, stupid and insane.
1.13 Chris Chibnall Ashley Way 1 January 2007