ORBzine - Torchwood TV Review

[Season 1 !Season 2 !Season 3 !Season 4 ]

  • John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness
  • Eve Myles as Gwen Cooper
  • Burn Gorman as Owen Harper
  • Naoko Mori as Toshiko Sato

    Season 1

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 1, Episode 1] Everything Changes
    Shown 22nd October 2006 [Sunday]

    This is the new Doctor Who spin-off. It's a BBC3 show [repeated on BBC2, for people who don't have digital] aimed at the 18-35 audience. It's adult-themed, like X-Files or Angel ... only set in Cardiff!

    The first ep, written by Russell T. Davies himself, has high hopes but doesn't really pull it off. It's a bit like Rose, which introduced the Doctor through the eyes of Billie Piper 's character. Here, a WPC [Woman Police Officer] uncovers the Welsh MIBs when they turn up to investigate a dead body. A CSI tech tells her that Torchwood are Special Ops - clearly they're not secret, or they would be pretending to be a harmless Government agency or something. Captain Jack gives a disappointing monologue - totally unimpressive. Even the helicopter shot of him in his blue coat on a rooftop later on shows that this wants to be Angel , but doesn't even begin to come close. Captain Jack doesn't have anywhere near the brooding charisma of David Boreanaz - I never thought I'd miss him! Truth be told, CSI-wannabe Cop show Bones is far closer to Angel than this is.

    There are some nice aerial shots of Cardiff. Just like Rose, the WPC has a boring BF. The WPC blunders into an alien-capture operations. We see some great prosthetics and a dungeon straight out of Silence of the Lambs .

    Cardiff is Torchwood's third base [not counting the Victorian mansion in Scotland, for some reason]. It was chosen because of the space-time rift. Captain Jack and his cardboard crew [including Dr Sato from Dr Who: Aliens of London ] salvage alien tech, but they don't use it. They're apparently above UK and UN control - so who do they answer to? And why did a secret organisation choose an unknown quantity, specifically a time-travelling con-man, as their main man?

  • Torchwood Torchwood [Season 1, Episode 2] Day One
    Shown 22nd October 2006 [Sunday]

    A meteor crashes. Torchwood turn up to investigate, as do the Army [with strange rifles - G36s, not SA80s for some reason]. The meteor releases a strange mist, which turns out to be an alien parasite. It infects a 19-year-old slapper [unfortunately not Billie Piper ], who then kills men by having sex with them.

    This is one of the biggest cliche in Sci-Fi. It's been done in Angel, Outer limits, Sliders and is generally recognised as being a sleazy and second-rate storyline. The Human Interest angle is pushed as the WPC bonds with the parasite-infested girl. This certainly fails as action-adventure.

    Jack's favourite item is the Doctor's severed hand from the Christmas Invasion.

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 1, Episode 3] Ghost Machine
    Shown 29th October 2006 [Sunday]

    The team chase a spide/chav/hoodie/ned/schemie across Cardiff. He's messing about with an alien gadget, which Torchwood recover. Unfortunately it sends the heroine into the 1940s, where she meets a creepy wee boy who almost says Are you my mummy?

    Turns out the gadget lets the user see the past, specifically incidents that imprinted strong emotion into the location.

    The heroine ponders her relationship with her boring BF, while flirting with Captain Jack. He teaches her how to use a selection of guns - using all the flashiest Hollywood poses, of course.

    Owen, the geeky kid of the team, uses the alien device for some Cold Case type murder-solving. It's nice to see an annoying character actually get developed and show some promise. Also nice is the handling of the show's sci-fi element, which means the show itself has promise.

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 1, Episode 4] Cyberwoman
    Shown 5th November 2006 [Sunday]

    Yanto Jones, the team's well-dressed gofer, smuggles a stranger into the base. A Japanese expert in cybernetics, in fact. Turns out that Yanto, a boring nobody, has a secret girlfriend. She's a 7of9, and he's keeping her in the basement. Somehow he smuggled a crippled cyberwoman and a 5-ton conversion unit from London's Canary Wharf tower to Cardiff!

    Naturally, she's cyber-psychotic. The team plays cat-and-mouse with her.

    The ep's theme is relationships. The WPC and the nerdy guy seem to be hitting it off a bit more, while her BF's contribution to the ep is a badly-timed phone call.

    The climax is nerve-biting and heart-rending, but the actual resolution is pointless.

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 1, Episode 5] Small Worlds
    Shown 12th November 2006 [Sunday]

    Jack has a flashback to the past, and decides to look up an old flame. She knew Jack's father during the Second World War. She also saw Fairies in the bottom of her garden when she was a little girl. Jack's got a grudge against the Fairies ever since they murdered his army unit in India in 1909!

    The Fairies now are focusing on a creepy little girl. She does what she can to annoy her irritating stepfather. How come all the children in these shows live with their divorced or widowed mothers?

    This isn't just another technicolour rip-off of Angel . No, it's a technicolour rip-off of X-Files , with Jack and the WPC as Mulder and Scully. Strangely modern, when one considers that the writer was also the creator of Sapphire and Steel !

    Yanto is still around, despite the events of last week. Another strange thing - Torchwood actually have their unit's name written on the side of their car!

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 1, Episode 6] Countrycide
    Shown 19th November 2006 [Sunday]

    The team go to a small village in rural Wales to investigate disappearances. They discover it is infested with man-flesh-eating beasties. Then the team gets split up!

    Yanto and the Asian babe are chased by the man-eaters. This is a truly frightening episode, the best so far - not just because of the nature of the monsters, but because we don't really know if the supporting characters are going to live or die!

    Jack, the WPC and the nerd are trapped in a pub, in the typical besieged by zombies bit. The WPC's relationship with the nerd begins to develop ...

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 1, Episode 7] Greeks Bearing Gifts
    Shown 26th November 2006 [Sunday]

    Toshi, the Asian babe, finally gets some character development. Even better, she gets an ep of her own.

    In Napoleonic era Cardiff, a redcoat chases a whore into some woods. In the modern day, almost 200 years later, Torchwood is called in to investigate a body ...

    Toshi meets a blonde babe in a bar. her new friend gives her a gift - a pendant. The pendant that enables the wearer to read everyone's mind. Naturally, this is more a curse than a gift. She's jealous of the WPC's secret affair with the nerd, so she has an affair of her own ...

    This ep has some great character development, although the theme is very similar to that of the Yanto ep.

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 1, Episode 8] They Keep Killing
    Shown 3rd December 2006 [Sunday]

    Cardiff's CID call Torchwood to investigate a mass murder case. The killer's actually written Torchwood in blood at the scene!

    It turns out that the killer is linked to the killer in the first ep. The team revive their friend, but there are complications. The revival lasts more than sixty seconds, and she wants it to be permanent!

    The climax involves a race against time to save the WPC, and a moral dilema for Captain Jack.

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 1, Episode 9] Invisible Eugene
    Shown 10th December 2006 [Sunday]

    Torchwood investigate an RTA, involving the death of a geeky informant type named Eugene. Unknown to them, he's still there - as a ghost that they cannot see, hear or touch.

    This ep is from Eugene's perspective, as he watches Gwen the WPC track his life and final movements. In many ways this most resembles the Absorbaloff ep of Dr Who - it's a stand-alone with geeky characters and emotional self-indulgence.

    The climax is a complete non-sequitor, and makes no sense at all.

    All in all, a rather poor ep. It's just Filler, really.

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 1, Episode 10] Out Of Time
    Shown 17th December 2006 [Sunday]

    Jack, Gwen and Owen are on an airstrip when a prop-plane arrives. It took off for Dublin 30 minutes previously ... in 1953!

    The 3 passengers have a hard time adjusting. We'd just come off rationing in '53, one comments.

    Owen bonds with the pilot, a beautiful woman. Gwen and her BF, who reappears after being absent for several eps, take a young girl out husband-hunting.

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 1, Episode 11] Combat
    Shown 24th December 2006 [Sunday]

    This ep was written by Noel Clarke, better known as Mickey!

    Owen's having a hard time adjusting to his loss from the last ep. He goes undercover to infiltrate a Fight Club set-up, run by an Estate Agent who looks like a male model. It's not just a rip-off from the movie, it's now an extreme sport featuring a Weevil.

    The humans are portrayed as ungrateful for their success in life, although their actions are justified. The Weevils, who murder and devour defenceless humans [such as in the first ep] are now apparently worthy of our pity.

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 1, Episode 12] Captain Jack Harkness
    Shown 31st December 2006 [Sunday]

    Jack goes back in time to the 1940s. He meets the original RAF Eagle Squadron pilot named Jack Harkness, the man he stole his alias from. The man's about to die a hero's death (although Jack's monologue about it is woeful) ... so Jack persuades the poor man to out himself as a homosexual!

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 1, Episode 13] Apocalypse
    Shown 7th January 2007 [Sunday]

    The Satanic beast is summoned. Jack and the others are Earth's only line of defence. However, the others have realised that Jack has secrets of his own. They don't trust him any more!

    NTSC - USA



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    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 2, Episode 1 ]
    Shown th February 2008 [Tuesday]


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  • Season 2

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 2, Episode 1] Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
    Shown 16th January 2008 [Tuesday]

    The second Season starts with a pretty decent teaser sequence reminiscent of something from Angel ! The team are getting along fine without Jack - they're in high-speed pursuit of Blowfish, a fish-headed alien. Nearby, the time/space rift opens and John Hart [James Marsters - Buffy the Vampire Slayer ] steps through. Hart's basically Spike, but in a twist typical of Rusty's Nu Who he's bisexual - like an evil version of Captain Jack!

    After some cool fighting and banter, Hart claims to be on a mission to retrieve some atomic cluster-bombs. But is he telling the truth?

    The ending features a trailer for forthcoming episodes. We get to see some familiar faces, but to mention who they are would spoil the surprise!

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 2, Episode 2] Sleeper
    Shown 23rd January 2008 [Tuesday]

    The team investigate the deaths of a couple of burglars. The dead men were killed by a woman who caught them in her house.

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 2, Episode 3] To The Last Man
    Shown 30th January 2008 [Tuesday]

    Torchwood has a cryogenics vault containing a soldier from the First World War. They have to defrost him and give him his annual medical checkup. He will be needed sometime in the future, when the rift eventually goes critical ...

    The problem is, Tosh falls for him. Now, what are the chances of it all turning out nicely?

    Meanwhile, the bisexual boys are having their on-the-job fling. Didn't we establish last Season that workplace romances don't work?

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 2, Episode 4] Meat
    Shown 6th February 2008 [Tuesday]

    Gwen's BF, who hasn't got much of a mention lately, is feeling left out. He follows Gwen and the team, to see what they're up to. His suspicion is that she is having an affair with Captain Jack. This is ironic on several levels - Gwen's ACTUAL affair was with Owen, and Jack's ignoring this proof that office romances are a bad idea so he can have one of his own with another man!

    The team investigate some alien meat that's showing up in human food. They trace it to an illegal abatoir run by a gang of thugs.

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 2, Episode 5] Adam
    Shown 13th February 2008 [Tuesday]

    The team has a new member, Adam. They can all remember the first time they met him - he's been with them for AGES. But we, the viewers, have never seen him before!

    Jack has to make a difficult decision, as always. This one comes at a terrible personal price for him.

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 2, Episode 6] Reset
    Shown 20th February 2008 [Tuesday]

    The team investigate a series of mysterious deaths. They get a specialist Doctor on loan from UNIT - an old friend of Jack's!

    The trail leads back to a private research clinic run by Penelope's dad from Lost . He's quite dangerous, as the somewhat tagged-on ending shows.

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 2, Episode 7] Dead Man Walking
    Shown 27th February 2008 [Tuesday]

    This takes up shortly after the previous ep. Jack orders the autopsy to be halted, because he has a mission to do first. He retrieves an artefact worshipped by the Weevils ... remember how everyone wondered where the other glove was?

    Unfortunately, things go badly. The corpse is reanimated, but is inextricably linked to the dead-world. Is something trying to take him back to the Dead side ... or to claw itself into the world of the living?

    This is one of the better eps. The climax, both in terms of writing and the SPFX involved, are nothing if not impressive!

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 2, Episode 8] A Day in the Death
    Shown 4th March 2008 [Tuesday]

    A woman's on top of a tower block, prepared to jump off and comit suicide. Owen joins her, and tells her of his most recent adventure. It's a pretty depressing tale.

    Owen's re-adjustment has not been easy. He's been reassigned to coffee-making duties, while Ianto gets to do missions. Tosh tries to help, but Owen isn't used to the idea.

    The team detects strange energy readings from the mansion of a local millionaire [Richard Briers!]. Rather than get a search warrant, they decide to burglarise his house. To defeat the heat sensors, they send their only man who lacks body heat!

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 2, Episode 9] Something Borrowed
    Shown 11th March 2008 [Tuesday]

    Gwen is getting married. Strangely, there was no foreshadowing in previous eps. Her friends at the Hen Party are a bunch of Girls we've never seen before.

    Unfortunately, on her wedding day she's heavily pregnant. With an alien parasite, which is even worse!

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 2, Episode 10] From out Of The Rain
    Shown 18th March 2008 [Tuesday]

    A travelling circus abducts people. Not exactly a new idea, but the story is well executed and the ending is slightly original.

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 2, Episode 11] Adrift
    Shown 18th March 2008 [Tuesday]

    Gwen meets up with her old pal from the Police, and gets involved in a Missing Persons case. She suspects that the Rift may be responsible ... and Jack knows more about it than he's letting on.

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 2, Episode 11] Fragments
    Shown 25th March 2008 [Tuesday]

    The team investigate strange readings at a remote disused factory. They end up getting trapped under tons of rubble. Rather than a cruddy flashback to clips of previous episodes, we get the characters reminiscing about how they joined Torchwood.

    Ianto's efforts to get Jack to hire him can be read by some as homoerotic subtext. however, we should remember that the only reason he wanted the job was to help his girlfriend!

    Owen wasn't always a total git towards women.

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 2, Episode 12] Exit Wounds
    Shown 1st April 2008 [Tuesday]

    Following on from the previous ep, the team try to sort out another set of bombs planted by the same villain. Jack tries to confront his old opponent ...

    Jack's past is explored more deeply. Both his recent past, as a member of Torchwood, and his personal past - his relationship with his own brother.

    Owen and Hoshi get yet more screen time together. This isn't as touching as the writers seem to have intended, but it works well enough. The actors do their best, anyhow.

    Season 3

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 3, Episode 1] Children of Earth (1)
    Shown 06/Jul/09

    Government hitwoman Liz May Bryce is hunting Torchwood.

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 3, Episode 2] Children of Earth (2)
    Shown 07/Jul/09

    Gwen and Ianto escape from the ruins of the Torchwood base, and go on the run. Jack gets captured, co the gang have to effect a rescue of him.

    An admin gofer for the British Government secretly contacts Gwen and leaks her tons on secret info on the aliens known as the 456. These creatures have not been seen before in the Doctor Who universe, and are unlikely to be seen again. But Captain Jack claims somehow to be a (relative) expert on them ...

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 3, Episode 3] Children of Earth (3)
    Shown 08/Jul/09

    The 456 aliens beam their ambassador down into the London building. UNIT and the US military send envoys.

    The UK Civil servants are used as intermediaries. Gwen arranges to have a spy present. Yes, trying to kill Torchwood just got they attention.

    Liz May Bryce goes after Jack's daughter and grandson. Her SWAT team are too stupid to understand how to surround a building.

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 3, Episode 4] Children of Earth (4)
    Shown 09/Jul/09

    The 456 demand 10% of the Earth's human children. The Government try to negotiate, but the Aliens will not waver. They even have a breakdown on a country-by-country basis. Peter Capaldi and his Civil Service minions draw up the plans.

    Jack and the Torchwood survivors enact their plan to confront the 456. But apart from rhetoric, they have absolutely nothing to use on the aliens. Not even harsh language. The 456, on the other hand, have the ability to kill off a couple of recurring characters!

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 3, Episode 5] Children of Earth (5)
    Shown 10/Jul/09

    Jack discovers that Spock was right when he said The need of the many outweighs the need of the few. The fact this makes him a complete hypocrite is never addressed.

    The Government's answer, a small civil war rather than complete extinction of the species, is enacted. As in every other episode in this Season, Peter Capaldi completely steals the show.

    Season 4

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 4, Episode 1] The New World
    Shown 14/Jul/11

    The CIA gets a mysterious E-mail that says one word - Torchwood. Then someone starts deleting every reference to the Institute on-line. This leads on to something that turns this Season into this year's equivalent of Flash Forward or The Event .

    A murderer named Oswald Danes (Bill Pullman - Spaceballs, Independence Day ) is being executed, but he doesn't die. In fact, nobody does. CIA Boss Rex (Mekhi Pfeiffer - 8 Mile) is in a fatal car crash, but conveniently this is timed so he manages to survive. He realises that the only ones who can solve the mystery and save the world are the Torchwood survivors.

    Jack is back, but someone is out to assassinate him. This leads to one of the most disturbing sights on the show so far. No wonder this is shown on a cable channel in the States, not just on BBC America!

    Gwen is in hiding with her hubby and baby daughter. She has to choose between family/happiness and career/duty. Her husband does the Lois Lane role, urging her to stay with him. Never mind that it's the end of the world (Again!) ...

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 4, Episode 2] Rendition
    Shown 21/Jul/11

    Rex (Mekhi Pfeiffer - 8 Mile) and his sidekick ( Dichen Lachman ) escort Jack and Gwen on a 747 to the USA. Unfortunately someone still wants Jack dead.

    A red-headed PR babe ( from Six Feet Under) just happens to bump into a couple of central characters, Delivering her sales pitch and business cards. She'll probably turn out to be central to the plot ...

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 4, Episode 3] Dead of Night
    Shown 28/Jul/11

    The new Torchwood team are in operation. They discover that a Mega-Corp has been stockpiling drugs ... So they probably knew that Miracle Day was coming!

    Jack goes to a Gay bar to get laid. He also realises that Oswald Danes (Bill Pullman - Spaceballs, Independence Day ) is somehow key to everything.

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 4, Episode 4] Escape to L.A.
    Shown 04/Aug/11

    The team go to Los Angeles. Gwen is contstantly on the phone, obsessing about her dad.

    The Tea Party decides that Dead Is Dead. They are against taxpayers' money subsidising the upkeep of those who suffered fatalities without actually dying. PhiCorp flunky Oswald Danes (Bill Pullman - Spaceballs, Independence Day ) is brought out to deliver his own message.

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 4, Episode 5] The Categories of Life
    Shown 11/Aug/11

    Gwen jets back to Wales. She and her hubby try to infiltrate the Camp and liberate her dad.

    The lady doctor infiltrates the Los Angeles Camp posing as a Medical Inspector. The manager who shows her around is a rent-a-villain, last seen as an undertaker in Medium . His role is predictably similar here ...

    The undercover amateurs are unable to play it cool, instead drawing attention to themselves by spouting off with sanctimonious and self-richeous drivel.

    The horrible revelation in the twist ending? It certainly has a similar feel to the twist in the Children of Earth story. But the truth is that the Earth is under attack, and the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. The only question is - how does this benefit PhiCorp? If anything, it echoes last episode's discredited saying Dead Is Dead.

    Elsewhere, Jack confronts Patton Oswald again. He is closing in on the people behind all this ...

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 4, Episode 6] The Middle Men
    Shown 18/Aug/11

    Jack closes in on Ernie Hudson ( Ghostbusters ), a high-ranking PhiCorp executive. But the fellow is just one of The Middle Men.

    Rex may have video-taped evidence on what the Camps are intended for, but he's still trapped within the perimeter. He has to deal with the

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 4, Episode 7] Immortal Sins
    Shown 25/Aug/11

    The world's natural response to the UnDead has been made politically unacceptable, thanks to Torchwood's interference. Instead of a humane response, as the Government planned, the Category Ones must rely on Private health Care ... and since they don't have money or medical insurance, they'll just get stacked in a freezer somewhere.

    Gwen returns to the USA, and plays along with what she has been ordered to do. She doesn't have much choice, but Jack can't take much consolation from that.

    Jack has flashbacks to a Torchwood mission in the 1920s, when he visited NYC and fell in love with yet another man ... and gets involved with bootleggers ho are smuggling alien artefacts.

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 4, Episode 8] End of the Road
    Shown 01/Sep/11

    Nana Visitor takes the Torchwood crew to meet Jack's ex. We get some exposition about the villains - the Three Families. But they have gone under deep cover, with no trace on the Net ...

    Rex's boss Friedkin (the fat guy from Seinfeld) pops up. So does his CIA boss, Shapiro (John DeLancie - Star Trek: TNG, Stargate SG-1 ), who is efficient and may actually help solve the mystery.

    Oswald Danes (Bill Pullman - Spaceballs, Independence Day ) has his Publicist get him a call-girl. But the one he ends up with doesn't know the meaning of the term GFE, she's just an obnoxious and over-entitled bitch. Yet again, Danes comes off as the real victim.

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 4, Episode 9] The Gathering
    Shown 08/Sep/11

    Three months later, in Wales ... Oswald Danes (Bill Pullman - Spaceballs, Independence Day ) is on the run. He offers to guide Torchwood to the Blessing(s).

    Torchwood Torchwood [Season 4, Episode 10] The Blood Line
    Shown 15/Sep/11

    Our heroes confront the Blessing, which looks like a massive evil Vagina.

    Jack's plan involves getting a self-loathing psycho and strapping him to explosives. Even the villains see that this is a bad idea!