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July 24, 2014

Torchwood: Ghost Machine

by Martin Conaghan, posted Nov 6th 2006 7:49PM
Owen(S01E03) If you were unaware that you were watching Torchwood, you would have been easily forgiven for thinking you were watching an episode of The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Tales of the Unexpected, The X-Files -- or any one of the above.

So mainstream and straightforward was the theme of this episode, it could have easily slotted in to the schedule of Lost, Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica, with a few minor character adjustments and a lick of fresh paint on the set.

Despite this, it managed to set itself apart from last week's dreadful mess with some simple science-fiction of the time-traveling kind.
Upon discovering an alien artifact after chasing a common criminal across the streets of Cardiff, Gwen Cooper activated the device and found herself in the past, watching an eight-year-old World War II evacuee arriving from London. So vivid was the experience, that Gwen could actually feel the little boy's lonely emotions as he wandered around the train station seeking help.

The Torchwood team managed to track the boy down -- now living his life in Cardiff, and quickly realized that the device can re-live moments from the past.

Owen then accidentally activated the device under a bridge near the river and found himself witnessing a violent sexual murder of a young girl in 1963, but felt compelled by the experience to track down the perpetrator, Edwin Morgan, and confront him with the truth.

However, the aging and decrepit murderer hounded Owen from his home and set loose a chain of events which led to the discovery of the street criminal (called Bernie) who stole the artifact in the first place -- along with the other half of the device; which just so happened to be the component which gave the user the ability to see into the future.

Bernie maintains that he used the device once, and witnessed himself dying in the street outside his house in the very near future. Of course, this was after her had used the device to track down Morgan and blackmail him for his crimes.

Unfortunately, Gwen then accidentally set off the fully-operational device, and witnessed herself standing in the street holding a knife in her blood-splattered hands, professing that there was nothing she could do to stop Owen. It seemed that Bernie's vision of his own future death was about to come true.

In the end, Edwin Morgan showed up to end the nightmare of guilt by killing Bernie -- and following an altercation with a very angry Owen, he threw himself on to the knife Gwen had secured before Owen could exact revenge.

The vision of the future came true, and there was nothing the Torchwood team could do to stop it. The device was then placed in secure archive by Ianto Jones, and Gwen was left facing the horror of having been party to a murder.

Confused?

Well, it wasn't as confusing as I've probably made out -- but, as I said earlier, it was certainly a step up from the quality of last week's episode and a sign of good things to come.

If only they'd move this show out of Cardiff and get rid of the nagging Taff accents, it could easily be on a par with Doctor Who, and possibly aspire to the level of X-Files.

And what on earth was the gun-range scene between Captain Jack and Gwen all about?

Answers below please folks...

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Alan

I've given up, Torture-wood is just to mundane, 2-dimentional, lacking in worthwhile content, I hope it doesn't survive to series 2 and they instead spend the budget on more Doctor Who.

December 17 2006 at 5:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Akbar Fazil

man, you people just bitch and whine too much.

November 07 2006 at 11:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Martin

How could this episode of Torchwood fit in to an episode of Battlestar Galactica, or Lost, or any other for that matter?

Okay, I'll explain...

Lets say Starbuck goes down to a newly-discovered planet to search for fuel minerals. She encounters an alien artifact (not unlike the stone circle which shows the way to Earth) and it allows her to see moments from the past. Other crew members experience the same kind of thing.

You see where I'm going?

Same goes for Star Trek - and even Lost. If viewers can follow Jack's dead dad around the island and Hurley can hallucinate imaginary companions, we can envisage moments from the past being revealed by some quirky plot device (not including the bog-standard flashback routine).

Oh, wait a sec - Lost already shows us moments from the past, and we now have a character (Desmond) who experiences events from the future before they actually happen.

Do you follow me now?

November 07 2006 at 6:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Roderick

"So mainstream and straightforward was the theme of this episode, it could have easily slotted in to the schedule of Lost, Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica, with a few minor character adjustments and a lick of fresh paint on the set."


Mainstream?
Straightforward?
erm...I assume you're talking about the original Battlestar Galactica and not the rather awesome and excellent current Ronald D Moore series?
Please explain....??

November 07 2006 at 6:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
edd

Russell T Grant is a hack

November 07 2006 at 3:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
DarthPaul

Like I said last week, this show is awful & continues to get worse.

RTD still keeps trying to make this show 'adult' by introducing clunky & tawdry sexual tension.

The ghost episode could have gone 2 ways but it went the "device that has no perceivable use in the real world that creates a simple story" route, which was lame.

The Cyberwoman episode is just tacky too.

The acting is like watching a cupboard full of wood directed by a blind monkey

November 07 2006 at 3:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Andrew

This episode could fit into a episode of Battlestar Galactica? I like Torchwood for what it is, but without sounding like a complete SciFi nerd, this type of episode could fit into the OLD Battlestar, it would result in a writer getting fired if it got brought up in a writer's meeting. How could it even fit into a Lost episode? Comparing Lost, Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica, is sort of like comparing an episode of CSI, Law & Order and The Wire, respectively. I don't understand your analogy or you don't watch Battlestar or Lost. I don't appreciate when people label shows as SciFi formulaic, when Scifi is probably the least formulaic genre (outside of Star Trek), in comparison to the CSI or Law & Order type shows.

Is it just me or is Torchwood a little disappointing so far? The characters aren't unique beside Captain Jack, the story lines are like Doctor Who reject plots. The concept of a secret government alien protection agency outside the law is criminally neglected. Torchwood sounded so cool during series 2 of Doctor Who, when we finally saw it at then of the series (spoiler!) it was neat, but felt too set-like. The new set is also limiting, but more expensive. What would I like Torchwood to be in comparison to other Team dramas? I would say: The character development of Buffy, Angel or Firefly... The quirkiness of characters like Eureka, Doctor Who, even House... The mystery nature of a X-Files or Veronica Mars... The political intrigue of spooks... The immediacy of 24... The darkness of Battlestar, X-Files or the upcoming The Dresden Files (which looks like a similar type of show with a fantasy spin). That's asking for a lot, but 50% of each would make it an amazing show. Captain Jack is being under used, he should be as broken and damaged as Gregory House or Mal Reynolds (Firefly).

Finally, is it just me or is the gay undertones and sexuality in general being used as a gimic? I know that Russel T Davis is gay, and his use of it in the series could work, but it needs to be more integrated into the story, the characters and the mood of the show, whenever Torchwood goes for sexy it seems cheap and dishonest. Look at the gay relationship of Willow and Tara on Buffy for the mature, respectful way to deal with that type of relationship and sexuality.

November 07 2006 at 12:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Walt

Aside from the Torchwood team being able to locate alien artefacts like they glowed with radioactivity, I like the concept, the show, and almost everything so far.

The bit of the "Oops, I just activated some alien device" concept shows a bit too much "Monster of the Week" formulaic style to it, but I'll forgive the show that if the quality holds.

Looking at the "Cyberwoman" show, the latest show to be broadcast, I can safely say that being a pizza delivery girl in Cardiff seems a poor career choice.

November 07 2006 at 12:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Akbar Fazil

I too was confused by the gun teaching scene. Seemed like strange flirting just for the sake of flirting. I know Jack is a massive flirt but that seemed odd.

Overall I found this episode to be spectacular. In scifi these days its hard to do something spectacular AND new. Look at BSG... one of the best scifi dramas ever written and it just a remake ;) Torchwood to me is adding a nice inventive touch to old stories. Don't expect them to get out of Cardiff too much.

Can't wait to see what you thought of this weeks episode.

November 06 2006 at 11:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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