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Torchwood 2.8: A Day in the Death

February 27th, 2008 (11:19 pm)
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Reasonably good narrative structure from Joseph Lidster, the first of the writers discovered by the Doctor Who continuation industry during the post-McGann era, I think, to break into the Cardiff crew's commissioning circle. More very good acting from Burn Gorman, and from Eve Myles as Gwen takes charge while Jack poses in the chair. (Again, though, this series is suffering from lack of consistent portrayal of the characters, something that is now seeming worse this year than last. Perhaps Chris Chibnall was too busy on his job application for Law and Order: London?)

I see what na_lon means about sub-Buffyness. In the Whedonverse, characters would learn something about themselves only for the rug to be pulled from under them. Here, Owen has begun to come to terms with his emotional life only to be placed in a desensualised body - exactly what he feels varies depending on where the story needs to make its point. As with Doctor Who, but more so, pseudo-literal address and blatant allegory are juggled at rapid speeds, so it's not surprising that cards are dropped now and then. But A Day in the Death was still solidly entertaining, if not as good as the previous two. I don't see Owen's condition as sustainable in the long term, unless he is kept in cotton wool (and bunn has pointed out some other problems that could have been excused by pseudoscience). Good to see Tosh represent striking a balance between emotions and action again, a role the evolution of the series, erratic as it is, is pulling away from Gwen.

Comments

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: February 28th, 2008 02:17 am (UTC)
Outsider

I'm still not watching Torchwood, your advocacy notwithstanding. However, one point:

Joseph Lidster, the first of the writers discovered by the Doctor Who continuation industry during the post-McGann era, I think, to break into the Cardiff crew's commissioning circle

I think it depends how you count Rob Shearman. My understanding is that he was on the fringes of fandom in the eighties, drifted away, and only came back post-McGann, when his first professional fanfic was for Big Finish, followed by comic strips and non-fiction articles for DWM (actually, I think the comics may have been after Dalek).

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: February 28th, 2008 02:24 am (UTC)

I had wondered whether Rob Shearman might be an exception! Thanks for correcting me. (I'd had a vague idea he'd contributed to a Virgin Decalog, but he hadn't, say the reference guides.)

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: February 28th, 2008 03:08 am (UTC)
Outsider

he hadn't, say the reference guides

I've got the three Who Decalogs and he isn't an author.

You may be thinking of Decalog 3, which has Steven Moffat's first Who story (the best one in the book by far, IIRC, and full of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff).

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: February 28th, 2008 11:13 am (UTC)
Torchwood

I wasn't confusing him with anybody - I just thought that he might have slipped in before the change from Virgin to BBC Books.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: February 28th, 2008 01:39 pm (UTC)

> I don't see Owen's condition as sustainable in the long term.

I agree.

I have been expecting him to be bumped off at the end of each of the last two episodes (pretty much since that shot resulting in me exclaiming "but they can't take the vbest character out of the show! - or does Burn Gorman have somehing better to do?").

However, app. unlike you (judging by what you said in your front page link), I found the episode quite captivating, especially the bits on the roof, which commendably managed without captions along the lines of "24 hours earlier".

KT

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: February 28th, 2008 02:30 pm (UTC)
Devil's Crown

I think it was the fact that the episode didn't need captions to flag up the two timelines in the narrative that made me commend Joseph Lidster's structuring skills.

Posted by: Penny Paperbrain (pennypaperbrain)
Posted at: March 5th, 2008 10:04 pm (UTC)

Just seen it on BBC2 and wasn't too impressed. Poor grasp of storytelling again - if you want your audience to feel sorry for your character then give him some character, don't just show endless shots of him looking tormented. And if everything in the plot is obviously just there to Reflect on the Protagonist's Plight (suicidal woman, dying old bloke etc) then the story itself will not breathe.

I'm getting the impression that Torchwood is the writing gig you get if one of the Who inner circle owes you a favour but you're not good enough to be allowed to muck up anything important.