Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Torchwood Children of Earth, part 3: They are here

Once again, I don't have time to give each episode of "Torchwood: Children of Earth" the proper review it deserves, so I'm going to offer up a few quick thoughts after the jump and then open it up to you. Spoilers for episode three coming up just as soon as I hit the Army surplus store...
"We want your children. We will take your children." -The 4-5-6-
When I interviewed Russell T. Davies last month, he said that the budget for the new season of "Torchwood" hadn't gone up at all, and that the improved production values for "Children of Earth" were the result of a lot of hard work by his crew. If so, then part 3 in London was simply gorgeous, arguably the single most impressive bit of VFX of the RTD era of both "Doctor Who" and "Torchwood."

With The 4-5-6 ensconsed at Thames House, the third episode's narrative shifted a bit away from our Torchwood heroes and towards John Frobisher and his colleagues in the British government, who seem as much the villains of "Children of Earth" as the aliens do. And Peter Capaldi is doing such a good job of playing Frobisher -- as a man who isn't so much bad as weak (and who, as we learn in his phone conversation with Jack, is fully aware of his own weakness) -- that I'm okay with him taking on more story burden in this chapter.

At the same time, we got some more Jack/Ianto romantic sweetness (including a reference to The Doctor), Jack dealing with the abduction of his daughter and grandson, and Gwen hooking up Lois with the super sci-fi contact lenses, so it's not as if the team vanished altogether from the narrative.

Keep in mind, as always, that we're following the American broadcasting schedule of this show, so talk about the first three episodes and only the first three, even if you've already seen the whole series because you live in England or are handy with illegal downloads. Any comment I consider the least bit over the line gets deleted, period.

Considering that, what did everybody else think?

26 comments:

Jackie said...

I imagine Jack got a kick out of Gwen suggesting they run cons...and dabbling in his conman past just a little bit for the forces of good. And stealing a flash car doesn't hurt.

"Bloody beans" indeed, Ianto. A fandom collectively cursed Rhys forever for that.

Norm N. Conquest said...

OK, now I call bullshit. After seeing his brother, Grey, taken by aliens, there is no way 1965 Jack would give up those kids. 2008 Jack, quite possibly. But not 1965 Jack.

M.A.Peel said...

Ah, but he gave the children as a gift. And we have yet to learn the exact dynamics behind that word. It's what RTD can do well: simple, and deeply creepy.

Liana said...

When I started watching on Monday and Tuesday, part of me couldn't quite understand what all the hype and rave reviews were about. Hadn't people seen the first two seasons? the first two episodes struck me as being surprisingly similar to the rest of past shows, especially in terms of pace. Granted, they were tightly written, great new twists, beautifully shot and edited, etc, but they seemed like just really, really good episodes from the past. nothing in them stood out as stuff i had to gush about.

Then day 3 aired.

the drama and intensity of the flames; you can't help getting an adrenaline rush, and that leads straight into the most creepy tv I've ever seen in my life. It's shocking, it's unnerving, and every fiber of your being and your concentration is focused on this conversation with something you can't see. The voice, the pauses, the delivery, the foggy outline of insect-like shapes, the violent noises with the slime; it has an effect on something deep inside you that you can't help but instinctively feel fear from.

From that point on and ending with the final twist of the episode... Children of Earth became a story I really cared about.

and as you can see, something I can gush over.

*if i accidentally posted this twice, my apologies, and I'll try to delete it

Anonymous said...

I think I'm alone here, but we were absolutely convinced that the monsters were Daleks. Obviously have nothing to back that up with, but for a second we were just convinced. God that would have sucked. Although the guy who does the Dalek voice apparently has a role in "COE".

Nicole said...

The Daleks are like the Borg in that they have been used so much that there is no longer any scary mystery about them. Thankfully RTD has gone with the mystery alien approach. It works much better and let's us imagine how evil they can be.

I have to say that I was gobsmacked when Jack revealed that he was involved in the earlier alien attendance. I think it's consistent with his character, but I'm not sure that my reasons for thinking so are spoiler free.

Tangentially, I do wonder if this is the kind of thing the Doctor could be capable of.

Eric said...

Tangentially, I do wonder if this is the kind of thing the Doctor could be capable of.

No, the Doctor wouldn't be capable of it, and more importantly, the Doctor wouldn't have to and that awareness is what haunts Captain Jack.

CAPTCHA word: retcurs. A retcon that retcons a retcon.

Zach Haldeman said...

I recently converted to FIOS, which really really sucks apparently, and no matter how many times I tell it to, it won't record an extra five minutes. So, can anyone tell me what the very last thing to happen was? (I don't think I missed too much, since all I missed of the first episode was the word "back," but it definitely looked like Jack was about to say something.)

Anonymous said...

Holy Frack! I totally forgot about the alien abduction of his brother...Norm! You are my new hero.
Jessica

Craig Ranapia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Craig Ranapia said...

OK, now I call bullshit. After seeing his brother, Grey, taken by aliens, there is no way 1965 Jack would give up those kids. 2008 Jack, quite possibly. But not 1965 Jack.

I'd call bullshit back, and say you've got it entirely backwards. Don't forget, he's in the 19th century, he can't die, he doesn't know WTF happened but that The Doctor abandoned him -- and he's bitter about that. And we've certainly seen that the Torchwood Institute is all Jack has until he find him again, and they're not exactly model employers.

Also, don't forget that in 1965, Jack isn't a Time Lord. He isn't even a Time Agent with all the bells and whistles the 51st century can provide. Sacrifice twelve to save billions? Easy choice, but of course nothing in this 'verse is ever that simple.

Tangentially, I do wonder if this is the kind of thing the Doctor could be capable of.

Sure -- remember what Donna Noble said to him at the end of 'The Runaway Bride'? "Sometimes I think you need someone to stop you." Remember the RTD era Doctor is someone who is responsible for the destruction of his home world -- and the genocide of two races. I think we've often seen that The Doctor seldom does second chances, and there are some lines you don't cross without seeing the darker edge of an ancient and incredibly powerful being.

MyFawny said...

Minor quibble perhaps, but I find it hard to believe Jack Harkness needed to be taught by anyone , needless to say Gwen Cooper, how to hustle someone.

Norm N. Conquest said...

Question: Ianto goes shopping for the essentials. Coffee, obviously. Clean underwear. Jack's army surplus costume. And something that sounds like doodah. What's doodah?

Anonymous said...

It looked to me like Ianto held up a package of toilet paper when he said "doodah". Maybe that is a slang UK term????

In the 15 show after the episode that they call inside Torchwood or something like that, John Barrowman said that he thought Jack thought it was funny that Gwen was "teaching" him how to con and steal since he was a con man when the Doctor met him

Anonymous said...

"Doodah" means "thingamyjig" or "whatsit". I tried to find an online dictionary definition to back me up, but strangely, was unable to. You'll just have to take my word for it!

shara says said...

Last night was awesome - the best episode of the miniseries so far. I liked Frobisher getting more screentime, he's turning into an interesting character. Loved the "20 minutes" "no 30 minutes" scene with Jack & Ianto, and I thought that the aliens were SOOOOO much creepier just being vague shifts and shapes in the fog. The stretches of silence, where Frobisher was trying to establish diplomatic relations with the 456, were riveting. Very interesting stuff. So, basically the 456 is asking for like 220 million kids? Is that right?

word verification: leper

Grunt said...

I'm suprised no one has mentioned it yet, but perhaps my favorite little throw-away was WHY Gwen had the special Torchwood contact lenses. When Rhys mentioned that it took him a while to get used to them I almost fell off the sofa I laughed so hard.

Wasn't there a policy about NOT taking Torchwood toys home with you even just for fun? Ever since Susie's glove incident?

smaileh said...

I do wonder if the 12 kids that Jack delivered to the 456 in 1965 were the only kids given. We know that there were Torchwoods in different places--Ianto worked for Torchwood London and didn't we hear mention of a Torchwood Brazil?--so did every Torchwood branch deliver children? Is the reason the 456 picked England because of Torchwood?

Wonderful acting in the guest cast--the guy who plays Frobisher is marvellous ("you're a better man than I am") and I am loving the scenes between Gwen and Clem.

Anonymous said...

Easy choice, but of course nothing in this 'verse is ever that simple.

Please, no Firefly slang

Norm N. Conquest said...

Well, duh. In NYC, with our tiny apartments, we don't recognize toilet paper in bulky multi-roll packs. Based on Gwen's delight, I thought Doodah was a giant-size bag of pastry or cookies. But I can see where a day without TP would make its return more important than coffee.

apolonia said...

Is the actor who portrays the Prime Minister the same one who played Dr. Herriot's brother on "All Creatures Great and Small"?

DaveMB said...

apolonia -- Nicholas Farell, the PM, was never in All Creatures Great and Small (IMDB is your friend). He looks a bit like Peter Davison, who played Tristan (Herriot's partner's brother) in ACGaS and was also an incarnation of Doctor Who. Farrell was in Chariots of Fire as a young man and has been in a bunch of Kenneth Branagh things in a distinguished stage and screen career.

WV: "inaphoc" -- needs a clear "o" sound to avoid obscenity...

shara says said...

I've definitely been increasingly impressed with the actor who plays Mr. Frobisher. At first, he just kinda reminded me of the mortician from the Big Lebowski, but last night was a great showcase for that actor.

word verification - amsitybe

Hugh Jee From Jersey said...

Admittedly I was not a TORCHWOOD fan, but I started to watch after reading Alan's comments on Monday. And I'm hooked.

It didn't take long for a novice to get to know the back stories, thanks to the background documentary last Monday, and the 15 minute commentaries after the end of each segment of CHILDREN OF EARTH.

The premise of the 456 communicating, abducting, and wanting even more children reminded me of STORM OF THE CENTURY by Stephen King, made into a mini-series in 1999. Like "Andre Linoge" the bottom line is give the "visitor" what he/it wants, or else. The difference in this series is not only the vast number of children wanted, it the fact that the 456 would probably never go away for good upon getting their "gift".

A sidebar- is Peter Capaldi any relation to the late member of TRAFFIC Jim Capaldi? I checked out several sources, and found nothing. It is an unusual surname for a Brit.

La G said...

Fans of Peter Capaldi should check him out in "The Thick of It" and the film "In The Loop". Hilarious and terrifying look at Government in the New Labour era - Yes Minister with the c word, if you like.

Craig Ranapia said...

Wasn't there a policy about NOT taking Torchwood toys home with you even just for fun? Ever since Susie's glove incident?

Sure, but if Gwen was that big on policy her hubbie's memory should resemble a Swiss cheese attacked with a shot gun. :)