Torchwood – Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

Despite my initial praise for Torchwood back in 2006, I have to say now that there was a lot wrong with that first series. It was obviously rushed, some of the acting towards the end was horrifically wooden and the scripts had some major flaws. I found myself beginning to wonder how a team that was meant to work with a certain amount of military efficiency managed to survive when it was fairly obvious that none of them liked each other. The group dynamics just plain didn’t work. I also felt that the production team had failed in producing their much-touted “darker tone” because they spent their time trying too hard to be post water-shed. It seemed a bit pointless to me to be sprinkling the show with sex and violence just to justify the thing being shown after nine o’clock.

The first episode of series two shows that the production team have learned from a few of their mistakes. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang allows itself to be fantastical and funny where the previous series was trying too hard to be dark and serious. The characters seem to like each other now and the show feels a little bit re-booted, which is exactly what it needed. Some of the old staples are still lingering from the previous series, though. The scripts still have their clumsy moments (like the puffer-fish character describing the Torchwood team to themselves in a blatant bout of introduction to the new viewers) and sex and violence still dances through proceedings with casual abandon, but at least that element doesn’t still pretend it’s a serious part of the show.

As good as his Doctor Who script 42 was, I’m dubious about Chris Chibnall as the head writer of this show. He makes Russell T Davies’ mistakes with less of the solid gold that Mr Davies manages to gloss over his clunkier moments with. Homosexuality is treated not with the casualness that Doctor Who manages, but as if the writer and director aren’t sure whether or not they’re trying to shock us poor, beleaguered viewers. Torchwood is Doctor Who’s inadequate cousin, but at least it doesn’t pretend to be anything more.

As for Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang in its own right, I can only admit that I enjoyed it. It was a good romp. There was a nice balance of action and humour and the plot was thoroughly engaging. We’ve been treated to some more mystery in the show, with more questions about Captain Jack being thrown at us. It seems that the nature of the time agency may well become more important and it’s nice to have more of a sense of direction. It’ll be a long time before I claim that Torchwood is great television, but it’s doing a good job of being mindless B-movie entertainment so far.

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~ by Scary Rob on 29 January, 2008.

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