Television

My wife’s verdict on tonight’s Torchwood: “What a load of tosh!” My wife’s verdict on this weeks Veronica Mars: “When’s the next episode?”. She is, as always, most wise.

I don’t know where to start with this week’s Torchwood, a delicate blend of the ludicrous, the tasteless, the overwrought, and the morally confused. The design of the part-converted woman seemed unlikely to say the least, resembling nothing so much as anime-inspired cyber-lingerie. As my wife notes, quite why it was quicker to convert an entire body instead of surgically plonking the brain into a pre-built housing as they’d done every time previously is anyone’s guess. Also, surely all the Cybermen, part-converted or otherwise, would have been sucked through the dimensional rift – unless Ianto had a very good grip on her garter. (Or, conversely, none of the newly-converted Cybermen from our dimension should have been sucked through at all since they hadn’t passed through the rift in the first place. You can’t have it both ways.) Ianto this week went from non-entity to actiuvely unlikeable in about thirty seconds, which must be some kind of record. I can’t help but wonder if the best way to introduce him as a significant character is to have him be weak-willed, sobbing, morally dubious and insubordinate, then show no remorse about it. The Bride of Frankenstein finale was bathetic to say the least, and he didn’t even dignify himself by helping to resolve the problem.

Then there’s all the little things that rankle. How exactly do you sneak a huge bit of machinery and a cyberwoman into a high security installation in central Cardiff? How much more insubordinate are the entirely screwed-up staff of Torchwood going to be allowed to be? What in god’s name was the kiss between Owen and Gwen supposed to be about? How many more serious crimes will the team be allowed to commit? Will any of them ever become likeable? Where does Ianto get off covering up a murder then calling his boss a monster? Does swearing make your TV show seem less adolescent? If enough people tell us that Captain Jack is gritty and tortured will that make it true? Is it really safe to let that Pterodactyl fly around over their heads? What if someone spills the sauce? How many more pizza delivery people will learn of the existence of a top secret installation?

Tune in next week when none of these questions will be answered. Or asked.

Meanwhile Veronica Mars is having a superlative season so far. Five hugely enjoyable, pithy episodes to date, all with interesting, surprising storylines, likeable recurring characters and a steady running thread in the background. It’s not as good as Season 1 in concept because you can’t really beat the noirish darkness of the Lily Kane murder, but for sheer consistency and sense of direction it’s superior to Season 2 (so far at least).

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