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June 22 2007

"Torchwood" is no "Buffy". An article at The Guardian's Arts Blog goes into considerable detail as to why Joss' work outshines Torchwood on many levels.

Thus it explains why JM's site is wrong to describe the show as "UK sci-fi television favourite Torchwood."
There's a link to an excellent Torchwood spoof for people who were asking what the show is like, too.

That's from the Guardian's Arts Blog. It didn't appear in the printed newspaper.
This item hits on what I've been struck by so far when it comes to Torchwood. The fact that a show has "swearing and shagging" does not automatically make a show more adult. In fact, and I think this is the case with Torchwood, a reliance on the notion that "swearing and shagging" makes it more adult actually ended up making it less adult.
a reliance on the notion that "swearing and shagging" makes it more adult actually ended up making it less adult.

Another UK show often touted as similar to BtVS, Hex, has the same problem--and more.
The scarily accurate Dead Ringers spoof accused Torchwood of having "the scrapings off the floor of a Buffy the Vampire Slayer script meeting."

Ouchie. I've heard the first series had a lot of problems, but jeepers cripes, is it that bad?
Yeah, moley75 linked to this well-written blog at the end of the earlier whedonesque Torchwood thread.

Oh, yeah, deepgirl187, I'd hafta agree with almost everything Mhairi McFarlane wrote, and I really enjoyed the Buffy-floor-scrapings remark from the Owen-character in the linked Dead Ringer parody, and in which the Captain Jack character also says:

"We're up here all of a sudden on the roof for no reason at all. That's Torchwood, Gwen! Temporal disruptions and fissures in space create enormous plot holes that we just have to deal with!"

That said, on the recommendation of some whedonesque folks, I watched four more episodes of Torchwood just recently, bringing me up to the end of episode 8, and it does get a little better. Better than "Cyberwoman" anyway...
Too bad the show isn't like that video spoof, I would watch it then (I love British humor like Blackadder). I don't know if Torchwood is any good or not, I just want to watch JM on something!! A commerical, anything!
Anything has to be better than Cyberwoman. High heels and a metal bikini? Oh how far women on television have come.

(I'll still watch series two though, as I love Jack and adore Tosh. I just wish the producers would realise it's not the ground-breaking show they think it is, and the writers would learn how to write competent people).
What the heck is Torchwood? For some reason I got it confused with that western show on HBO and I was like, yeah, of course it's nothing like Buffy. Hello, it's a western and there aren't vampires. Then I opened the article realized that wasn't the show they meant. But I've never heard of this Torchwood thing. What channel is it on? And if it's so crappy why did Marsters sign on?
deepgirl187: Swap BtVS for AtS and, well...

Like the blog says, Captain Jack Harkness just didn't work as well as a broody guy with a long jacket and spiky dark hair who's much older and harder to kill than he looks. He was much more enjoyable as the fun, charming adventurer.

The second episode of Torchwood was strikingly similar to the second episode of AtS. Nowhere near as good, though. As summarized by Wikipedia:

Cardiff's night-life is at the mercy of a sexually driven alien which has possessed a young woman; Torchwood must discover its host and deal with the ideas that it represents.

[ edited by Lady Brick on 2007-06-22 20:00 ]
kerfuffle, you were getting it confused with Deadwood, which is the western on HBO. Torchwood is a spin-off of the revived Dr Who series [both British and made by the BBC].

I basically agree with this article. I posted my thoughts on Torchwood in the topic we had when James' role was announced, but I think Torchwood is the kind of show that illustrates perfectly the difference between British and American shows, particularly sci-fi, that the American ones are effortlessly stylish and well-written as a general rule, and the British attempt to copy the American ones.

I think Dr Who is an exception, but due to the fact that it is aimed mostly at a family audience we can expect less of the writing and be pleasantly surprised when it does have the occasional extraordinary depth, but I find it amusing that they think Torchwood is an adult program, when Buffy [which many have dismissed as a silly teenage show] is much more adult than Torchwood will ever be, simply because it was so intricate, intelligent and well written.

One of the major issues many people have is the so laboured attempt at making it an adult show, and the jarring transition between Captain Jack on Dr Who and on Torchwood.
"And if it's so crappy why did Marsters sign on?"

My personal take is that JM seems to choose projects based on the role, professional exposure, money, and possible entrance into a new fan-base. The Mountain gave him a great piece of film with brown hair and an American accent. Smallville put him into the Superman world and established the brown hair and American accent. Torchwood will connect him with Dr. Who and give him exposure in the UK. If we are lucky, he will also be doing it because it is a good role.

Just my guess.
I found the first half of the season to be terribly badly written, but the second half starting with "They Keep Killing Suzie" was much better (with the exception of "Combat" which was just as bad as its AtS doppelganger, "The Ring"). In particular, the two-part series-ender was excellent.

Most people I've spoken to agree with me on this -- you've got to gut it through the first half of season one to get to the better stuff.
One of the main complaints in this article has to do with lack of humour and characterization.

An excellent solution to this might be to make Captain Jack . Hopefully by season two this will indeed come to pass, after .

Although, my hopes are not high, because part of the real charm of is the chemistry and humour that happens between .

[ edited by chickenbird on 2007-06-22 20:27 ]
Is this what it means to become role lock?
I case you lose the will to live before you reach the bottom of the comments on the Guardian article I thought I'd reproduce my little contribution here:

Buffy has the immense advantage over Torchwood of being a dense and textured series which developed over seven seasons. And to all those contributors above, I'm afraid your airy dismissals of certain aspects of Buffy, be they Dawn, story arcs or entire seasons are worthless - sorry, its just there is so much good and interesting writing to be found on the subject by people who know what they are talking about - who are ... well, not you.

Torchwood season 1 was, for the most part, pretty grim but there were glimmers of hope for a better season 2, I hope the appearance of James Masters will go a little way to help realise that potential - anyway, it can't hurt.

Finally, Charlie Brooker is great, he uses his hyperbole for dramatic effect and is very good at it - but everyone doesn't have to try and imitate him; writing as if making a misfiring genre TV show is a crime against humanity.

[ edited by Caroline on 2007-06-23 07:45 ]
I still liked the back half though it took me weeks to give it another shot after Cyberwoman...


I'm a dork :) Thanks, QG!

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2007-06-22 23:49 ]
I love Buffy. I love Torchwood. It's as simple as that!
I definitely agree that much of Torchwood was just plain silly, but I cried my eyes out at episode twelve. Most of the rest of the team needs to be repeatedly smacked, but I still have empathy for Jack and hopes for S2.

Russell T. Davies is an admitted Buffy fan, but I see more of its tone in Doctor Who, really. It's the same kind of 'show that people might assume is fluff exceeding your expectations' thing.
I love Buffy. I think Torchwood is an accidentally hilarious disaster. Simple as that!
To be clear, zeitgeist, silvius noted that he was reproducing his comments from the Guardian blog, not commenting about the posts here. In that context, his comments make sense - no one is dissing Buffy in this thread - and are, in fact, appropriate.

I'm just sayin'...
They're still fairly personal-attack-ish, albeit there if not here.
Yep, might be an idea to provide a leetle more context when transferring comments like that ;). Or maybe just strip out the bits that don't pertain to here ?

but I think Torchwood is the kind of show that illustrates perfectly the difference between British and American shows, particularly sci-fi, that the American ones are effortlessly stylish and well-written as a general rule, and the British attempt to copy the American ones.

Sort of. I agree that when we try to copy the American style we very often fall flat on our arse but the best British sci-fi doesn't do that e.g. 'Ultraviolet' which was stylish but definitely maintained a very British sensibility and had the kind of understated tone that, frankly, is rare for a US show (or certainly was then anyway). 'Spooks' - though not strictly sci-fi - also mixes a kind of swish US visual style with the traditionally British, downbeat side of spying, the kind exemplified by 'Tinker, Tailor ...' or "Smiley's People". And I really don't think the quality of writing is in any way a problem for British shows, sci-fi or otherwise (though the budget often is - 'effortless style' is a lot easier on $2+ million an episode ;).

Similarly 'Doctor Who' has always had depth, just not necessarily the emotional kind. I remember a Tom Baker episode (mid-late 70s) where The Doctor escapes from a trap by exploiting the "lying guard" paradox. This is a family show airing at about 5:25 on a Saturday evening and they're chucking logic problems around as a matter of course ? Or 'Genesis of the Daleks' where he famously ponders the morality of committing genocide even on evil organisms. Not sure what that is but t'ain't shallow.

Re: 'Torchwood', i've started watching the rest and I agree it's definitely progressing. Tosh for instance has progressed from a caricature to a bloody idiot in only 7 episodes. Gwen has realised that just because . Jack's discovered that you can make exceedingly stupid choices with impunity so long as it moves the plot forward (e.g. in 'Countrycide' Just insultingly bad writing IMO. Feels like a 14 year old boy's attempt at 'adult' i.e. shagging, swearing, shooters and, err, cars (stupid thesaurus ;).

I'm actually sort of enjoying it though, it's like an hour long "two minute hate". Good to exercise the old spleen in a harmless fashion once in a while ;).

(don't even get me started on Ianto who dares to sulk about the lack of sympathy over ;)
I know Torchwood divides opinion and plenty of people have identified fault in the show, but it just makes me think of the old "If you like the Beatles and have to hate the Rolling Stones - and vice versa" argument. I don't think it's necessary to dismiss another TV show to prove how good BtVS was. That show speaks for itself. As for Torchwood, I really enjoyed watching the first season and I'll be there for season two.
Thanks QuoterGal.

And apologies to anyone who was unclear that my comments were reproduced from the CiF blog. In that rather more -ah- 'robust' context I believe the comments are comparatively restrained and certainly could not be construed as attacking anyone there personally.
Buffy vs. Torchwood? That's hardly a fair fight.

I like Torchwood. And I wouldn't dream of trying to compare it to the best show in the history of television.
Well dashboardprophet, I think the difference is that both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were great bands. But then I would say that wouldn't I ? ;)

(I agree about the seemingly universal need to dismiss what we, ourselves, don't like and how unnecessary it is but, for me, critiquing *cough ;)* 'Torchwood' is to do with its, IMO, poor execution - that'd be the same if Buffy had never even existed and IIRC i've never compared the two. Guess it's down to the old chestnut about the line between accepting differences and still holding to some sort of absolute standard of quality ?)
There'd be an awfull lot less violence in the world if people were allowed to vent with words instead of having to bottle it up until it explodes.

As for the original claim, there is nothing wrong in staying its a favorite, it is - they didn't say THE favorite, or number 1. But it has good enough ratings for them to want a second season.

Btw, speaking of British. BBC radio 5 reviewer Mark Kermode mentioned Joss Friday in his review of "Captivity", he was tearing "Captivity" to shreds as a totally vile movie without any merit or redeeming qualities, and everybody involved should be thoroughly ashamed. He mentioned that Joss had written in "his blog" and had the good sense to condemn the movie :)
I really enjoyed the second half of Torchwood, especially the last two or three episodes, and I'll be there for season 2. I have a friend who (and this makes no sense to me) thinks Torchwood is better than Doctor Who, and nearly as good as Firefly.
... I don't fathom how Torchwood could possibly be better than Doctor Who, particularly the latter's third season, which has almost entirely rocked and which starts on Sci-Fi on July 6!
When you quote, please make it clear that you quote, even if it's yourself you're quoting.
I really enjoyed the second half of Torchwood, especially the last two or three episodes, and I'll be there for season 2.

Agreed. The first few episodes were almost completely incompetant. It starts to turn around with episode 6. And there's only a couple of episodes in the back half that aren't very good, but still better than the first half of the season. It has found its feet.

I concur with the hope that Jack's character changes a little after his experiences in the third season of Doctor Who, which will be a very good step forward for Season Two of "Torchwood". However, it's a pity that most of his character growth is happening on another show altogether... as much as I love Doctor Who, it seems strange.
Ep 6 was 'Countrycide', yeah ? Wow, I don't think I remember a programme that split opinion quite as much as this one, not just between "OK" and "Not really my bag" but between "starts to turn around" and "insultingly bad writing", even among people that largely agree about a lot of other shows. Interesting.

(though I do agree the idea of 'Countrycide' actually had huge potential)
I certainly enjoyed Countrycide, but I think it was too much of a jarring difference for some folks after Small Worlds (and the previous episodes that just weren't very good), which despite the fairy creatures who turned out to be malevolent, had some deeper poignancy for Jack and the elderly woman with whom he had once been involved when she was young.
I could forgive the blatant Angel rip off, and RTD's insistence on ramming sexual politics down everyone's throat, and even the misguided notion that a series set in Cardiff can be cool (sorry Welshies);)

But Torchwood committed the ultimate and unforgiveabe TV sin of just being plain boring.

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