Sunday, November 25, 2007

TORCHWOOD: "Captain Jack Harkness" --
Jack Smooches Jack in a Moving Episode

Well, the preview had showed a glimpse of a gay smooch, and the show indeed showcased a very passionate male-male kiss.

What was more surprising to me--given that I was bored by the previous time rift episode and tuned out before it was over--is that this one ended up ranking as my second favorite TORCHWOOD episode of the four or five I've seen. I dunno, maybe even tied for favorite with "Small Worlds." (I thought the climactic scene in that latter episode, the one with the fairies, was a great moment of making a tough decision. And the final shot referring to the Cottingdale photos, a nice touch. Plus, hey, FAIRIES! They're cool.)

Mostly, though, I don't get why TORCHWOOD is so popular. Unless it's the fact that John Barrowman is so ridiculously good-looking that he appeals to all factions: straight men (who want to look that hot), gay men (who want to date him) and women (who drool when he's onscreen).

(What is in the water in Scotland! My goodness some amazing men come from yonder stock!)

Other than serving it up for those who want regular doses of omnisex promiscuity with their SF, it's pretty unimpressive. The acting, well, it can get really hammy or stiff. Even Barrowman as Jack is quite uneven. The best he's done in the show was in the most recent episode(ie, yesterday's "Captain Jack Harness"). None of the principal characters convinces me that he or she is actually a sharp, competent investigator/computer expert/scientist/whatever. They all just seem so...stupid. And easily distracted. And stupid.

Tosh and Owen continue to be endlessly annoying. And Gwen, with her open-mouthed brain dead look, isn't adding any oomph to the show. Ianto is disposable. Jack, well, he's sometimes intense and on the job. Someone has to be.

This is supposed to be a very cool, elite, secret group, and they're a bunch of idiots with overactive hormones. We've already had Tosh (previously hot for one of the men on the show) getting frisky with the blonde alien in female flesh, an episode that showed some amazingly bad acting/writing/directing. Then Owen going gaga over time-displaced chick, and his stupidity thereafter. (Maybe he's gonna get it on with Ianto next, just to keep up the omnisex vibe.) The foolishness that ensues when sex comes into play--look at Owen and the rift machine or Ianto and metal-miss--makes me think that they need to all take a vow of celibacy before being allowed to enter Torchwood headquarters again.

People can actually have a romantic life and retain their maturity level, right?

But back to the Jack-Jack episode: It worked. Mostly. When it was about Jack/Jack and set in the past. When it was set in the present, egads.

It worked because there was real, wonderful, consistent conflict and human drama going on between Captain Jack of Torchwood and the real Captain Jack (whose identity has been stolen by the 51st century "Jack"). The yearnings were well-played and powerful when mixed with the dread of one Jack knowing what the other did not: death loomed for the real Captain. I could actually believe that the Real Captain Jack was totally falling in love with Torchwood's Capt. Jack. Not just lust, which is understandable, but love. The actor conveyed this well, in addition to a growing urgency as time ran out. And Torchwood's Jack showed he had a heart. Sometimes, he doesn't seem to, so this was refreshing.

The kiss scene was touchingly done, but it was also a big fat unbelievable lie in its given context. And while it was obvious in its gay acceptance agenda; it was, as drama, nicely played out. One couldn't help but feel the terrible pains and frustrations of the two men, each for different reasons. However, I just don't see a roomful of 1940's military guys and Brit gals just standing by quietly while two men swap serious spit in the middle of a dance floor. Someone was gonna whack someone, or at least yell some very nasty names. It was impossible to swallow. And it damaged the scene, the moment. I think the dance and kiss in a more private setting would have worked and been more credible. But the whole, "We're gonna do it in the open and you better deal with it" political stance/metaphor may have been what justified setting it thusly. I understand the politics. It was crap logic, though, to not let there be consequence.

The genuine feeling that passed between Jack and Jack during the episode was the most mature stuff I've seen on TORCHWOOD, and by mature I mean "deep" and not "graphic." It ended up being about a doomed man and a doomed romance.

It was good gay romantic drama. It was lousy SF.

I watch TORCHWOOD inconsistently, and I only started watching cause of my warm fuzzies for the new Doctor Who. Jack the Immortal is a character with some interest for me. But, if they can't make the next season more grown-up--and by grown up I mean make the characters smarter and less skanky-dumb--I'll give up on it. No matter how telegenic Captain Jack is.

After all, David Tennant may not be nearly as hunky, but he's a better actor with better scripts and an exuberance that's delightful. I usually feel good with Doctor Who. I usually feel like I need a disinfectant and a brain booster after TORCHWOOD.


CaroleMcDonnell said...

Okay, you're the second one who mentioned liking Torchwood. Now I really have to commit to actually watching one episode. -C

Mirtika said...

No, I don't like it. I liked a couple of episodes: sorta. It's a dorky show and I wouldn't recommend it. Read what I wrote again. :)

Or maybe I was too complimentary of the romance here. heh.


Carmen Andres said...

man, i REALLY REALLY wanted to like this show. about a month ago, we took it off our dvr, mostly because of the dork factor which made the episodes boring (the prelude to death on dvr listings). i agree, the fairie ep was good, and the guy who plays jack is, well, like you said, heh. but, sheesh, i'm surprised the show is still on the air--even for fans of "doctor who", which is leagues beyond this show. thanks for writing up something on this - i never got around to it, and now i'll just point to your writeup :)
blessings, carmen

Mirtika said...

Blessings back atcha, Carmencita. Doctor Who far surpasses Torchwood. IT's got a sweet and point to its dorkiness. Torchwood is just mostly bimboish.


CaroleMcDonnell said...

Okay, Mir. Re-read it. ::giggle:: Wow, woman, you're amazingly kind when you dislike a show. I understand, though. Seeing the little good that's in a mostly bad program....and actually pointing out the good stuff...well, it leaves minds like mine prone to giving certain books a chance.


UKSteve said...

C'mon guys, sex and aliens, a winning combination, surely? Well, maybe when I was fourteen...

I do reckon it was good, on a couple of occasions. Can't bring myself to sit through the re-runs that are currently showing here, but still holding out hope that it improves for season 2.

Is that optimistic or just naïve?