Tag Archives: Torchwood

January Reading List: “Zombies vs. Flappers”

Collected Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I have probably mentioned this somewhere before, but the short story happens to be my favorite form of literature. There’s something to be said about an author able to leave a life-long impression in a few thousand words. Of all the stories in this collection, two have caught my fancy: “The Offshore Pirate” and “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz.”

Both of these stories are fantasies, which, if you have been reading these lists from the beginning, should not come as a surprise. “The Offshore Pirate” tells the story of Ardita Farnan and her love affair with a pirate that raids her uncle’s ship off the Florida shores. “The DiamondĀ as Big as theĀ Ritz” chronicles John T. Unger’s trip to visit a classmate at his home in the west. John soon discovers that his friend’s family lives on a mountain-sized diamond and will go to any lengths to keep this secret to themselves.

“The Offshore Pirate” is quickly climbing to the top of my favorite short stories list. I adore the strength of the characters that drive this narrative and the truths that are revealed within the last few pages. Fitzgerald’s writing was conversational, his descriptions simple but captivating, and his dialogue masterful.

Bay of the Dead by Mark Morris

I bought this because Ianto was on the cover. stfu.

This short novel is an offshoot of the BBC series Torchwood. It was far from a masterful piece of fiction and instead rather like reading a badly written episode. This is where I peer to and for before muttering, “I’ve ready better fanfiction.”

Bay of the Dead takes place some time after the end of the second series. Jack, Gwen, and Ianto find themselves in the midst of a zombie apocolypse. Now, I don’t like zombies simply because they terrify me. Yes, I have an irrational fear of zombies. I watch zombie movies and I immediately have nightmares of my face being eaten by a stinky, rotten corpse.

The plot is very action-oriented and leaves little room for character development. I had hoped that reading the companion books to the series would give me a broader and more intimate look into the thoughts and personalities of my favorite characters. Needless to say, I was sorely disappointed. That isn’t to say that this book wasn’t a fun way to spend the afternoon. The book still features Jack Harkness being Jack Harkness and the occassional quip from a suit-clad Ianto.

Anyway, if you want to see the Torchwood team take on the Zombie apocalypse George A. Romero-style this book is for you. If you’re like me and looking for character development, don’t look here.

Advertisements

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?