Category Archives: TV

Being Human: Would you like some bread with your angst?

The Protagonists.

The Protagonists.

I had hoped to round out this week with a look of the latest Doctor Who special, Planet of the Dead. Unfortunately, some real life things came up and I was not able to catch it. So instead I want to write about the first episode of Being Human, which also made it’s BBC America premier this week.

When I first heard the premise of this series I was skeptical. Actually, I was more than skeptical, I was convinced that the show would be utter, complete trash. A vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost sharing a home and trying to live normal lives? No thanks. It smelled too much like a show trying to latch on to the current vampire and other supernatural creature craze started by Twilight. I was not particularly interested.

These misgivings did not stop me from watching the first episode, however, and now my feelings are mixed. On the one hand, I was right to think that this show would be a gimmicky, angst ridden soap opera. (Apparently, angst and vampires go hand in hand in this modern age, it’s a bit like bread and butter.) On the other hand, I did find myself somewhat intrigued by the way this was carried out. The first episode had some particularly well-written scenes and enough hint at a “plot” to make me think about tuning in for another episode or two.

I was sorely disappointed by the way the series portrays vampires. When I was younger, I wanted to grow up to be a “vampire scholar” and so I am always on the lookout for new and refreshing interpretations of this king of otherworldly creatures. Being Human‘s vampires are tiresome at best, and downright disappointing the rest of the time. A part of me expected to see them start glittering in the sunlight and driving Volvos. Then again, the werewolf character was not much better. I did, however, like that he had a very shy, mild personality as opposed to the aggressive werewolf types I generally come across in the media.

What really drew me to this show was the ghost, Annie. I found the way that they dealt with her as a character to be very well done. At the beginning of this episode, she is starting to become more “real” in the sense that non-supernatural creatures are beginning to be able to see her. By the end of the episode, however, she has reverted to not being able to be seen at all. I would like to see the way her character develops throughout the rest of the series.

All in all, I was not terribly impressed with the show. It was a bit too full of angst and lacking originality to keep me interested. If, however, you’re looking for an overabundance of trite themes and underdeveloped plots, this is the show for you!

Children of Earth: Day 5 “We feel good. The chemicals are good.”

Gwen, fighting to the very end.

Gwen, fighting to the very end.

I am having a hard time writing about this episode, not because I have nothing to say but because I am not sure where to begin. Day 5 houses within it the culmination of all the unanswered questions and with it the darkest hour in Torchwood history. If you were looking for a happy ending, you won’t find it here.

A Sad Farewell.

A Sad Farewell.

This is my largest complaint about Children of Earth, that it is all darkness and despair. As beautifully filmed as the series is, I did not turn on my TV to come away feeling worse than when I sat down. Sure, Torchwood is known for its darker, more mature themes, but this is a step too far for me to feel the urge to ever tune in to a fourth series.

I think what disappointed me most was Jack. At the end of the ordeal, he runs away. He blames himself for all of the deaths that have occured and, perhaps, he is right to think this way. Yet, when it is all said and done he abandons everything. Captain Jack Harkness beams off to some passing ship and dishonors the memory of all those who died fighting. Only Gwen is left to continue on, alone.

The 456 are defeated and the children are saved, but it does nothing whatsoever to lighten the heavy darkness that has fallen over the Torchwood universe. One of the things I always liked about this show was that despite the darkness there was always a little something to lighten the mood. Even at the end of the second series, with Tosh and Owen dead, I walked away feeling that there was hope for the future, that these two characters gave their lives for a greater cause. I did not get that coming away from Children of Earth.

So concludes the third season of Torchwood. Will I watch the series again if it was continued? I might, but it would be with a heavy, skeptical heart. A series that started out as a potentially great moment in TV spiraled into an utter disaster– but, like a train wreck, I could not look away.

Children of Earth: Day 4 “It was good, yeah?”

The just are punished, while the unjust... well... give your children to aliens.

The just are punished, while the unjust... well... give your children to aliens.

So, as the week progresses, I find myself wondering if I would have been better off waiting until the end of Children of Earth to offer my thoughts on the series. It is a little late for that now, isn’t it? In Day 4, the action really starts to unravel as the 456 make their demands, Torchwood gets back on its feet, and the politicians making all the decisions prove that the human race really isn’t worth saving.

Th 456 are revealed

Th 456 are revealed

The greater part of this episode centers around the actions of the government and how they plan on dealing with the demands of the 456. Personally, I thought that these sessions were rather long, drawn out, and might have been better shortened. Yes, right away I was left with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as children were reduced to “units” and the “people in charge” frantically come up with ways they can find unwanted children and sell this to the public. When I sat down to watch Children of Earth, I was not prepared for this. In fact, I was a little annoyed that these obviously satyrical scenes appeared at all. If I wanted to sit down and watch a bunch of politicians prove to me once again that humanity is not worth fighting for, I would turn on the news.

Meanwhile, Torchwood records all of these proceedings thanks to the efforts of Lois. In the first few episodes, I did not like her character. Yet, seeing her efforts to aid the Torchwood team and seeing her stand up in a room full of politicians to set them straight changed my mind. If ever they make another series, I hope she makes an appearance as a new member of the team. Jack and Gwen are able to use these recordings to blackmail their way into Thames House– where everything goes to hell.

Ianto always looks so sad, it breaks my little heart!

Ianto always looks so sad, it breaks my little heart!

The scene in Thames House, where Jack and Ianto finally confront the 456, is beautifully done. If Torchwood is good at anything, it is good at killing people. Ianto dies in Jack’s arms and it just so happens to be the saddest, darkest point in Torchwood history. Admittedly, I fell in love with Ianto the first time I sat down to watch Torchwood, so I guess it’s not a surprise to say I am devastated by his death. I think that it is tragic that the moment Jack, Ianto, and the rest of the Torchwood team set out to confront the 456 and stand against them they are brutally struck down. Meanwhile, the government figures, safe in their little room, survive and condemn the Earth’s children to a terrible fate. This is at once horrible and terrifying, almost as terrifying as the way the 456 are revealed and viewers get to see exactly what happens to those children.

Our only hope, at this point, is that Day 5 sees a return of the Captain Jack Harkness that is always there to save the day. What will happen tomorrow? What, exactly, are the 456 using the children for?

Children of Earth: Day 3 “Criminals. Thieves. Us.”

We are here!

We are here!

Children of Earth, Day 3. Things are finally starting to fall into place throughout this episode. The Torchwood team is reunited and the 456 beam down to Earth to habitat their specially built fish tank. What do they want? A gift. What is that gift? 10% of the Earth’s children. I bet the British government is ready to crawl under a rock and die at this point. I mean, honestly, who gives in to a bunch of aliens over a radio?

I eat babies, for breakfast.

I eat babies, for breakfast.

Many of the questions raised in the first two episodes are slowly starting to be revealed. Why did the government want to kill Jack and the other three people on the list? Well, it turns out that in 1965 the 456 demanded children– Jack just happened to be one of the individuals commissioned to deliver these children. If Children of Earth does anything well, it shows us a great deal about Captain Jack Harkness that does not appear earlier in the series. To be quite honest, Jack is starting to turn into quite an unlikeable guy. He sneaks into Frobisher’s house, steals his wife’s phone, and calls to threaten him. In 1965, he gave up a dozen children to a group of aliens not knowing what would be done with them. This does not bode well for what will come in later episodes.

Meanwhile, the reunited Torchwood struggles to catch up to the government and deal with this newest threat. Forced to set up base in an abandoned warehouse (which Rhys lovingly dubs “Hub 2”), Jack and the others resort to petty theft to gather the necessities. This is probably my favorite section of this episode. I particularly like the way Gwen swoops in to steal a laptop while Ianto and Rhys stage a fight. Shortly after, Ianto comes to the rescue with coffee and fresh clothing for the very stinky, grumpy team.

P.S. Ianto looks pretty damned good in this suit.

P.S. Ianto looks pretty damned good in this suit.

Overall, I do not think that this is the strongest episode of the series. Viewers are subjected, like in Day 2, to a great deal of outside information to fill in gaps left in the first two episodes. At the same time, the Torchwood team spends this episode playing catch up to what the government, and the aliens, are up to. By the end of the episode, however, things really pick up as both the government and the Torchwood team are left holding their breath as the 456 make their demands.

Will they give in and gather up the required children? And what exactly do the 456 need all of these helpless kids for? I guess we will just have to tune in tomorrow for Day 4.

Children of Earth: Day 2 “We want a pony.”

Torchwood: Closed for Renovations.

Torchwood: Closed for Renovations.

The Torchwood team is under attack! Gwen and Ianto run for their lives as they become the latest victims of government conspiracy. Meanwhile, Frobisher and his gang continue to deal with the 456. How do they deal? Give into their demands, of course!

With Jack reduced to little more than bits of head, shoulder, and an arm, the rest of the Torchwood team is forced to resort to their super spy skills to figure out why they’re being hunted and rescue their regenerated captain. Needless to say, this puts the alien hunting on hold.

Ianto, down and dirty.

Ianto, down and dirty.

My observations this episode:

Gwen does a lot of shooting. She never hits anything. Sure, she looks pretty badass jumping out of the back of ambulances and hiding behind steel doors, but the fact that she never hits anything sort of kills the “cool” factor.

Jack regenerates. I think this is fascinating. In fact, if I could teleport myself into the Torchwood universe I would blow him up just so I could watch him regenerate.

PC Andy returns to bring comic relief to what is quick becoming the darkest series in Torchwood history. Honestly, it doesn’t really help. By the end of the episode a growing sense of dread has already settled into the pit of my stomach.

This is the construction episode. The government is building a large box in which to contain the aliens. Ianto dons the garb of a construction worker in order to rescue Jack from a very large concrete block. The Torchwood hub is demolished. You’ll need to pull out ye olde hardhat for this one.

Ianto Jones: Jack of all Trades

Ianto Jones: Jack of all Trades

Rhys appears in this episode. I really like Rhys. He puts up with a lot of nonsense when it comes to the Torchwood team and their escapades. In this episode, he poses as a funeral director and looks pretty damned good all dressed up.

Finally, we get to see Captain Jack Harkness naked. Yes, that’s right, NAKED. He has a very nice ass and looks very dazed and ‘daaww’ worthy.

Can you hear me now?

Can you hear me now?

Okay, so really this episode spends more time filling in information that was left out in the first episode and setting things up for what will come in the final episodes. Once the team reunites and the aliens arrive, the real story can start to unfold.

Children of Earth: Day 1 “That’s my car!”

How many times have you seen this picture on the internet? Not enough, I say.

How many times have you seen this picture on the internet? Not enough, I say.

See those kids in that picture? That was me after watching Day 1 of Children of Earth. The first hour of the new Torchwood series contained everything I loved about the first to series as well as a new, fast-paced, intriguing format (one story spread over five “days”). Instead of merely seeing the world and its alien threats from the Torchwood perspective, viewers also get an inside look at what the government is doing to deal with the newest problem. What’s this problem, you ask? Have you lived in a closet for the past six months? All of the Earth’s children have stopped and are spouting nonsense: “We are coming!”

jackianto

Children of Earth. It's serious business.

Overall, this first hour of what is essentially a five-hour movie does a very good job of introducing and connecting characters, setting up the plot, and leaving just enough to keep you coming back for more. Jack and Ianto’s relationship has escalated to official “couple” status and some of the best scenes from this episode include Ianto being giddy as a schoolboy, Ianto being awkward and embarrassed, and Ianto bring his brilliant one-liners to the table. Jack and Ianto forever, seriously!

Many secrets are revealed in this episode. Viewers discover that our dear Captain Jack Harkness has a daughter and a grandson. I rather like her. She is quick to catch on that Jack conveniently shows up at her doorstep when children start acting strangely and she is even quicker in sending him on his way. On the other end of the spectrum, viewers get a glimpse of Ianto’s sister and her family. He has a niece and a nephew and he gives them money. I wish I had an uncle that gave me money every time he visited.

There are some downsides to the episode. The first time I watched it I had no idea what was going on after an hour of sitting in front of the TV. The aliens have something of a lame name, the 456. What happened to the 123s? or the 789s? Also, many of the new characters that make an appearance are not very well done. Lois and Rupesh are both very boring. The girl who works for the government, at this point, is your stereotypical baddy.

Frobisher, in ure phonez protectin' ure kidz.

Frobisher, in ure phonez protectin' ure kidz.

One thing I want to point out is how well Peter Capaldi plays the character of John Frobisher. If you are seeing Children of Earth for the first time, I want to point out that he is worth keeping an eye on. In this episode, we see him starting to deal with the 456 and being forced to become fodder for the government, at the same time he is directly touched by the events as he has two daughters at home.

Also, I want to know how Jack didn’t notice there was something strange in his stomach. I mean, seriously, if someone put a bomb in your stomach wouldn’t it feel… different?

Reminder: “All the things you can do with a stopwatch…”

Just a quick remind that Torchwood: Children of Earth will be airing this evening from 9:00 to 10:15 PM, followed by Torchwood: Inside Look: “An exclusive behind the scenes look” at Day 1. Look for my post about Day 1 between 10:15 and 10:30 PM tonight! In the meantime, enjoy this video:

Torchwood parties? Please can I be invited?