Torchwood Series 2: The verdict so far...
This is a guest column by Katherine F
Three episodes in, and the fans are delighted: the second series of Torchwood has everything they loved about the first, and has solved a great number of the problems that plagued it, to boot. The writing is sharper and less sloppy; the characters are more competent (they haven't accidentally killed a single person yet!); Tosh and Ianto get more lines; the relationship between Jack and Ianto has been clarified; and, perhaps the best development of all, the series has stopped giving the impression of being too far up its own arse to see daylight.
There's a light-heartedness to the new series that's deeply refreshing after the previous series spent thirteen episodes wallowing in existential angst -- in the first five minutes of the first episode, we get an alien blowfish driving a sports car (it's a stolen car, but he still stops at the red light -- hey, wouldn't want to get a ticket), a little old lady staring after the team's gigantic SUV and muttering "Bloody Torchwood!", and the unironic use of the line "This fish is wired!" The swooping crane shots of Cardiff have been kept to a minimum, and nobody's spent more than a couple of seconds at a time staring into the middle distance and looking miserable.
Perhaps the greatest and most important change is in Jack, who's dropped the brooding, melancholy pose of the first series in favour of a return to his earlier cheerful, flirtatious self. Doctor Who fans know why this has happened, of course, and even those who only watch Torchwood (and there are more of them than you might think) can surmise from his enigmatic statement that he "found [his] Doctor" that some sort of emotional demon was exorcised in the gap between series one and series two. The end result is a Captain Jack Harkness who smiles, laughs, flirts, jokes, and doesn't let getting stabbed in the chest ruin his day. It's lovely to have him back.
As for the episodes, we've had the twisty little romp "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang", which gave us a glimpse into Jack's past in the person of "Captain John Hart" (played with swaggering appeal by James Marsters, better known as Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Spike); the scary and gruesome "Sleeper", with a superb performance by guest star Nikki Amuka-Bird; and the meditative "To The Last Man", which trod ground the series had already trodden before, but made up for it by having a time-travel story that actually -- you may find this hard to believe -- made sense. It bodes well for the rest of the series, since at this point in series one we'd had the adequate "Everything Changes", the murky and vaguely reactionary "Day One" and the competent "Ghost Machine" -- not terrible, but nothing to write home about.
So far, Torchwood's second series is lighter, brighter, fresher, sharper, and altogether new and improved. Here's hoping the shine doesn't wear off!
Katherine F writes about comics at Whereof One Can Speak.
Posted by Drew Shiel at February 6, 2008 2:05 PM