Thursday, 18 April 2013

Review: Torchwood 2.1: Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

It's Thursday. Or "Torchwood Time", as I'm tempted to call it. (I probably won't, it's a bit crap.) Having moaned a lot through live reviews of Miracle Day and gone back and complained (and gushed) about the first series, I'm going to fill in the gaps on my Torchwood reviews. Not really a problem for me, though. These are the best two seasons of one of my favourite shows.

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The "you, you, not you," scene is one of my favourite
Character Establishing Moments in TV.
Torchwood - Series Two, Episode One - Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
Written between 5th and 7th March 2013

January 2008. A year gap since the last series, although with a lovely series of Doctor Who (that I'm coming to the end of reviewing at the moment) plopped in the middle. To say I was hyped wasn't really the word. After having a bit of adolescent Rose-rage after Series Three, I was probably more excited about the new series of Torchwood than I was about the uncertainly of having Catherine Tate as a new companion. I wasn't disappointed; Series Two is my favourite series of the show and its premiere more than sets it off on that path.
     A month or so after Jack disappeared in End of Days (and had all the adventures with The Doctor that I'll describe in my Who reviews next week), he reappears. Despite the team's curiosity about his absence, they are distracted by the arrival of handsome Time Agent John Hart (Buffy's James Marsters). Hart is a former lover and colleague of Jack's who claims to be looking for some dangerous artifacts that have fallen through the Rift. While searching, Hart sets up traps for the team and kills Jack on the roof, but Ianto saves Gwen, Owen and Tosh in time to catch Hart in the act. When Hart's treasure turns out to be booby trapped, Owen is forced to help him to remove the bomb, which is thrown into the Rift. Hart is sent off on his merry way, but not before giving Jack a mysterious message about someone called Gray.
     The episode's plot is fairly by-the-by, but it's carried by the phenomenal performance by James Marsters, who is probably my favourite Torchwood guest star by a long shot. Captain John Hart takes all of the personality traits we love in Jack and then puts them into a villain, allowing them a lot more free reign. But it doesn't end up boiling down to the stereotypes that Jack's character can often fall into, as John is given some decent characterisation - he's not just greedy and nihilistic, but he's bitter that his lover has rejected him for what he considers a humdrum life. I love every second that he's on screen, it's amazing.
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Let the shipping commence! (Or continue...)
     And, rather nicely, the characterisations get spread out a bit more this series - the effect is rather immediate. The writers seem to be shipping Jack/Gwen fulltime now, while simultaneously shipping Gwen/Rhys just to torture the fanbase. To make up for that, the relationship between Ianto and Jack, hinted at in the first series, becomes a tad more open and explicit. I liked that the series touched upon Jack's motivations for coming back to Torchwood after meeting Ten, which could have been easily ignored otherwise. It's little details like that in the episode that I do rather like.
     Torchwood's return was handled spectacularly, managing to mix in a variety of quiet character moments with a decently tense plot and guest character that lights up the screen with his every appearance. It wasn't a masterpiece of the order that later episodes in this series would produce, but it was immediately fun and managed to avoid a lot of the mistakes of the first series while still maintaining that fun promiscuous spirit that made the series enjoyable.

Thanks.

NEXT WEEK: Nikki-Amura Bird is a frightened alien in Sleeper.

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