Torchwood – From Out of the Rain/Adrift

This week’s two episodes seemed like a real contrast to me, between them showing everything that’s right and everything that’s wrong with Torchwood in the space of an hour and a half with a few genuine surprises thrown in for good measure.

There are times when I really don’t understand why Torchwood is an adult series. It always claimed to be such, yet, when you strip away the sex and violence, all that’s left is a pretty vacuous sci-fi show that has little to challenge an adult viewer. From Out of the Rain is a case in point. Written by Peter J Hammond, a veteran of British teleplay writing, this episode should have had a lot more to it than it did. In fact, this is one of the few episodes of any series that have managed to completely break my suspension of disbelief. The plot, about some mysterious travelling showmen trapped in a piece of film and stealing people’s last breaths, is based on a childish and fairy-tale-like set of concepts, yet it still had a lot of potential. The problem was that it never rose above its childish roots. There were holes in the plot that made no sense, like Jack appearing on the piece of film that insinuated itself into the clip show. He was with another troupe, apparently, so the only purpose it served was to introduce (with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer) the fact that he knew the enemy. Even then, he only knew them by reputation. With no explanation as to what they were or how his plan works, he then makes the leap of impossible logic that just by filming them then exposing the film to light he can get rid of them. That kind of childish conclusion is rarely seen outside cheap children’s cartoon series and I would have thought such sloppy plotting beneath a writer of Hammond’s pedigree.

Adrift, on the other hand, shows Torchwood’s potential as an adult series. It touched on the emotions felt by families who have had loved ones disappear without trace and dealt with some of the reasoning behind keeping Torchwood secret as an organisation. The knowledge they possess can damage people, and Gwen (as much as this aspect of her character irritates me) shows us that by belligerently insisting in her ignorant housewifish way that the team deals with the real world on its own terms for a change.

Where From out of the Rain failed in its attempts to be creepy when it had a lot to work with, the sound team deserve a pat on the back for its success with Adrift. That scream was all the more disconcerting for how human it sounded despite being continuous and I think the production team’s decision to use Robert Pugh’s own scream was very much the right one. Torchwood seems to have improved since its first season, but it still has some holes to plug to really be an “adult” series.

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~ by Scary Rob on 23 March, 2008.

2 Responses to “Torchwood – From Out of the Rain/Adrift”

  1. My main surprise was that Gwen didn’t ret-con the mother. I mean she could have offered it to her and had the woman’s collusion in how to explain away a week. I’m thinking some kind of amnesia and have Gwen pretend to be a home-help person, assuming she can manage that level of pretence.
    Or are you only allowed to ret-con people without their knowledge?

  2. It does seem that way, doesn’t it?

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