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October 7, 2015

Torchwood: Day One

by Martin Conaghan, posted Oct 30th 2006 7:34PM
Captain Jack(S01E02) This could have quite easily been the first episode of Torchwood, so quickly was the viewer thrown into the action.

Chuck in some backflash references introducing our main characters; Captain Jack Harkness from the recent series Doctor Who, along with his team of Torchwood operatives, and our central character Gwen Cooper, the ex-cop who takes on the vacant position with a gang of supernatural alien hunters.

And we're done.

A two-hour special would probably have wrapped it all up nicely, but Russell T Davies decided to split things up, especially since this week's episode was more about setting up the adult theme of the entire series than giving viewers a decent run at the characters involved.

If you're trying to get your audience to remember your show in the morning, there's one surefire way to guarantee you'll be talked about over the water-cooler; sex.

And this second episode, "Day One," had plenty of it.

It seems totally implausible to me now that I'm sitting here writing it all down, but somehow it managed to work, albeit on the most feeble level., and maybe because I'm prepared to give it a go because I've enjoyed Doctor Who so much recently.

However, I reckon I'll probably look back at this episode as one of the weaker, more cynically-plotted shows in the series, and I have to say I don't take too kindly to Mr Davies deliberately manipulating his audience with one of the crudest and lowest forms of writing tools.

So, here it goes for the plot: a gaseous alien crash-lands in Cardiff and occupies the body of a young girl. But get this: it needs orgasmic energy to survive, and sets about having pretty wild sex with strangers in order to cause them to explode at the crucial moment, at which point their energy is consumed.

I feel like I've been here before, and only the most immature of viewers would have fallen for such a poor ratings-seeking ploy. (And don't get me started on the obsession with Cardiff and Wales, or people with unusual physical characteristics).

I sincerely hope this stand-alone episode marks the end of such a banal plot device, but I suspect we'll get more sexed-up drama mixed with so-called science-fiction as Torchwood is repeatedly passed off as somehow 'adult'.

I hope I'm wrong.

Needless to say, the alien was captured at the end of the show, and the young girl saved, with Gwen learning a harsh lesson about surviving as a member of the Torchwood team; never let the work get in the way of your life.

If you haven't seen this episode yet, take my advice: don't let it get in the way of your life.

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Funny, the second episode of Angel was pretty much the same plot. AND gee, they're both spin-offs of older, more established, lighter shows.

November 01 2006 at 11:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Scott Matthewman

It's worth pointing out that "Day One" was not written by Russell T Davies, but by Chris Chibnall, who is head writer for Torchwood.

November 01 2006 at 6:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"pretty wild sex"

If you've been raised by monks, perhaps. ;)

Episode 3 is even worse than this, I fear the hype machine has lied to us.

October 31 2006 at 7:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

look at the bbc-torchwood website. It says that the hand is from the Doctor.

October 31 2006 at 5:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

By the way - does anyone else think that the hand in the jar alludes to a certain regenerating Time Lord last Christmas?

October 30 2006 at 11:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Well, if an American cable network picked it up, they'd have to severely edit it for content -- the language alone, it's jam-packed with words that no American television channel would allow, except pay stations. And I sincerely doubt that Showtime would be in any way interested in Torchwood.
Then again, if the way SciFi butchers Doctor Who is any evidence, we'd be so sick of poorly timed commercial breaks and promos plastered all over the screen that we'd never notice the bleeps and cuts.

October 30 2006 at 11:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Akbar Fazil

I suggest not comparing it to Doctor Who. Set in the same universe? Sure, but it is a whole different show.

I like the sexy stories (as does my wife) and hope they stay. There is plenty of hardcore human drama underneath the silliness.

October 30 2006 at 10:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gordon Werner

Any news of this series being picked up by Sci-Fi or BBC America? I did notice that BBC America will be airing Series 1 of Doctor Who starting in November ... but I haven't heard of anyting re: Torchwood

October 30 2006 at 8:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Scotty Ice

I hope that Scifi will pick Torchwood up for next season. It would make a already strong Friday night lineup even stronger.

Congratulations to Russell T. Davies for another hit show.

October 30 2006 at 8:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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