Thursday, 31 August 2017

TORCHWOOD - ALIENS AMONG US VOLUME 01

It is very very difficult to review this without giving away absolutely ENORMOUS spoilers, so forgive me please if my usual rambling flowery style becomes a deeper shade of vague rambling flowery style….
There is something wrong, something not quite right, it was on the tip of my mind all the way through episode one and two, a niggle which others may have picked up on. Let me put it this way, you know when you watched The Day of The Doctor and even though David Tennant was in it as 10, it didn’t feel quite like 10. Or when Rod Jane and Roger became Rod Jane and Freddy and the world felt slightly off kilter. Well its like that. Sort of. But not really.
What it is like though is good old fashioned and by that I mean series one and two Torchwood, all Cardiff based filled with sex, sleaze, tea, chips and adventure – and though the premise may be going back to the days the team have changed – joining the immortal Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) & Cardiffs very own Gwen Cooper are Mr Colchester (Paul Clayton), wannabe Torchwood operative Tyler Steele (Jonny Green) and alien whim-monger Orr (Sam Beart) because the late 2010’s are where everything changes (again) and the new Torchwood have to be ready.
The premise is interesting and a parallel with the wired post truth world that we have been inhabiting since everything went wrong in 2016, you see Aliens have already invaded and have been integrating into Cardiff for a long time, and they are bringing wealth with them so even though there is a recession and the indigenous Cardiffians are suffering hard times, property prices are rising as the alien Sorvix buy up all the luxury apartments and their leader the brood Mother Ro-Jedda (Rachel Atkins) uses her wealth to exert her influence over her own people and the Mayor of Cardiff – this is the set up for the first box set of Torchwood Series 5, and the set is split in to four stories:
5.1 Changes Everything by James Goss
A play on the title of the very first episode of Torchwood – this episode introduces is to investigative journalist Tyler Steele (Jonny Green) making a new life for himself in Cardiff and investigating the Red Door terrorist movement and attacks on immigrants – is it post Brexit hate crime or is it being instigated by a third power for another reason? A great introduction to the cocky Tyler Steele and the paranoid landscape of 2017 Cardiff. Tyler is dead cert for Torchwood, cocky, arrogant but with a brain to get the job done and a complete counterpoint to the other new Torchwood recruit, the curmudgeonly Volvo driving Mr Colchester (Paul Clayton), surely the LEAST likely Torchwood operative all expense reports and balancing the books, but you know he works and he may just well be my new favourite character in the series.
5.2 Aliens & Sex & Chips & Gravy by James Goss
I always liked the “Cardiff Buddy Movie” format of the Torchwood series, you know where one of our heroes and A.N Other have a jolly adventure round Cardiff, well this is pretty similar, but the two having an adventure are Gwen and Mr Colchester, and Mr Colchester is a million miles out of his comfort zone as this particular adventure involves a hen night for Madrigal (Sophie Colquhoun) daughter of Sorvix Brood Mother Ro-Jedda. And hilarity ensues. And so does death an mayhem, but mainly hilarity. And as our heroes and Madrigal drive around Cardiff avoiding death squads and picking up copious amounts of Vodka along the way we learn a lot more about not only Mr Colchester but also the alien Sorvix and their plans, not through info dumps but through alcohol fuelled conversations and high jinx. And it was at the end of this episode that the penny dropped for me and the reasons for feeling a little off centre were apparent. And THAT is all I have to say about that.
5.3 Orr by Juno Dawson
So far in the proceedings Jack Harkness has taken a bit of a backseat but he is front and centre in this episode and it is a very different episode, very slow, very introspective as Jack and the team meet Orr (Sam Beart) a creature genetically engineered to appear as the perfect sexual partner of their beholder (well it is Torchwood :-) ) however Orr is in trouble BIG trouble, she is wearing a control collar which is rigged to blow in 24 hours and which will take Cardiff with it, so it is a race against time for Jack to try go get a the device defused or to get Orr far enough away from civilisation so that when she blows she causes minimum damage. There is much great dialogue between Jack and Orr and a touching moment where Orr strives to become Ianto for Jack – and for a character that could have been really limited in scope this episode gives Sam Beart a real chance to shine and make Orr more than the sum of her parts.
5.4 Superiority Complex by AK Benedict
What do you do to ingratiate yourselves into a city where most of the population are just about surviving? when you are guests from an alien world and want to fit in? Easy, you build yourselves a sever star intelligent hotel and ban all humans from entering unless they are staff. At least thats what Ro-Jedda and the Sorvix have done. but something is very very wrong in the paradise they have built in Cardiff Bay – Sorvix guests are being brutally murdered and as tensions rise the protests from the Cardiffians outside the fenced off hotels threaten to turn in to a blood bath as the manager of the hotel enjoys nothing more than killing humans for sport. Time for Torchwood to get involved. As the first box set ends this story had to provide a mid season cliffhanger (which it does) and be a season finale (which it sort of does) This is a new Torchwood team just getting to understand how each other works and this episode is about them flexing their particular skill sets to stop the body count getting out of control.
A paranoid beginning to a new series, Everything Changes all over again and in this cray paranoid and downright dangerous world we live in A man in a great coat, a Volvo Driver, an ex journalist, a genetic anomaly and a lady in a very nice weather jacket are all that stand between us and the world falling over the precipice into chaos. Its not pretty, its not perfect and at times it is very silly (internal lift anyone!), but it is all Torchwood – welcome back, you have been missed. 7.5/10.