The Guy tells me has the final three episodes for it on his hard drive, and he'll DL them onto my thumbdrive as soon as we have some free TV time to actually watch them! 

Unlike with Torchwood, I am totally unspoiled for it, and hope to remain that way. I've sort-of given up on Torchwood since...well, most of my reasons are listed on my reviews. I'm a jaded SF media show watcher, I guess. But, Ashes to Ashese/Life on Mars gave the premise enough of a twist that it was enjoyable. That and Dr Who. Still have lots of love for Dr Who. I hope Martha joins the Torchwood team, I would LOVE that. I might even start watching it with more than cursory curiousity.
Smokey and the Bandit

Okay, so I'm roughly 30 years late, but I finally saw this movie in its entirety on cable two nights ago. Normally I'd have skimmed past this movie, but since there was nothing else on worth watching, even on the Science Channels, NGeo, or other documentary type channels, I settled on this. And hey, you know? It was funny, and it was fun to see Sally Fields before her Boniva advertisements and  Burt Reynolds before gray hair and Boogey Nights. Smokey is basically a Warner Brothers Cartoon translated to live action: Jacky Gleason as Beauford Justice was terrific, of course, hitting all the right notes, and here and there, rendering a completely idiotic character into shade tinged likable character. After all, if the Bandit was ever going to look good, he had to have a decent foil, right? So, I was pleasantly surprised by this 1977 comedy. It held up and wasn't overly dated.

Torchwood 2/1

The first episode of the second season finally aired on BBC America and it kept the pace going with a fairly standard storyline when you've got two conmen going at it (in more ways than one). James Marsters was still playing Spike from Buffy, which was good, but unfortunate. I was hoping to see something a little different from him, a little unexpected. It was nice to see Gwen get poisoned, and damn, was I disappointed when her group saved her in the nick of time. Gwen was full of dumb one-liners ("See? We always come back stronger." to Captain James), and I agree with other commenters who thought the Romance Vibes between her and Capt. Jack Harkness were weird. 
I didn't like seeing Ianto used by Jack as a consolation prize because Gwen was off the market, but I am hoping that it comes back to bite Jack in the ass, hard. 

Although there was some consternation about "why the fuck would the team allow Gwen, the shitty newbie with a moral problem" be the leader during Jack's absence, in a way, I could see why. She doesn't seem to hold back her emotions, she's a ruthless bitch and she's full of entitlement. If your teammates weren't the leader type, but content to have someone else make the big decisions, I guess I'd go ahead and let Gwen take the heat, too. The writers did make a point of having Gwen say that NONE of them knew what was "going on" and who the aliens all were...seems Jack was keeping alot more to himself than I thought during the first season. In the first season, I had the idea that the crew (Tosh, Ianto and whatshisname, mindwiping on him) were somewhat informed - a hell of a lot more informed than Gwen. But it seems that wasn't the case at all: they were just as new as Gwen was, with only a few more months under their belts. 

The effect of Jack coming back FINALLY after having had his run-in with the Doctor is refreshing. He's being written as much more open, and his actor is playing him with a wider emotional range...but I have to say, even so I wasn't overly impressed with his acting, although the man himself is the bomb, if you know what I mean. And at last, Jack is being portrayed as the center of the show, with Gwen firmly in second lead. I'm beyond not thrilled about that old TV trope of the male and female lead being paired up, even if it's for lip service to the inveterate het shippers out in viewer-land. Gwen should know better, even if Jack doesn't (not to sleep with a co-worker - this episode nailed that truth home) but they're both fucked up people. 

I found it interesting as well that the team has only pulled together because Jack was gone. Makes me wonder if he was decisively toxic while he was there.  The hints about his background are fun, but the writers are really walking the thin edge of "Just Freaking TELL me" what the secrets are. Stringing the viewer - me, in this case - along will work for a short amount of time before I start getting impatient with hints and inferences. 

On the whole, this episode was a hell of a lot more entertaining than Atlantis has been the past few weeks, with a lot more splash and action, and tighter plotting. But for me, this show is on probation. Gwen has to be developed in a more likable character, Tosh has to be explored more, Rhys and what makes him tick should be brought forward, and Jack has to be more in the forefront without tons and heaps of mysteries shoved in my face at every turn. Plus, much as I appreciate that yes, our characters have sex lives and sexual feelings, I guess my Scottish Protestant background comes to the fore because, honestly, I'd prefer if it were more in the background.

I've already seen all of Torchwood's first season (don't ask me how, it's through technical wizardy of which I know nothing) in a few chunks.

At the time, I managed to stay neutral about Gwen, whom many or most fans I knew seemed to hate with the passion of a thousand suns. I've been mulling over my delayed reaction to the character, so I hope y'all don't mind me figuring out where my thoughts took a sharp left turn.

Gwen is an important character. She's important because she's the Newbie to the wowza world of Wonderland, as exemplified by Jack Harkness and his crew of alien tech hunters (and Doctor watchers). She's the one that I, as the viewer, am meant to see this Wonderland for what it is when the other characters take everything within their twisted world for granted. She's the Alice. 

But that's also Torchwood's flaw. In making Gwen be the Alice, the producers had to tone Jack, the headline character, down a tremendous amount. He's become the Chesire Cat, mostly grin with some tail flicking. But he's less in the viewer's face than he is on Dr Who. That's because Gwen is the main viewpoint on Torchwood. The writers couldn't afford to show us Torchwood through Jack's eyes because now, instead of the bad-boy he is on Dr Who, he has to fill the role now of Mysterious Leader who Engenders Powerful Loyalty and Mentorship to the Newbie. He's not the Newbie. He's already seen and experienced things that the viewer isn't supposed to know about.

So it was that my frustration level grew with every Torchwood episode that focused on Gwen. The writing of the show didn't allow for much shifting of viewpoint, except for occassional glimpses into one character or another's life. 

I don't expect all main characters to be pure as the driven snow: I enjoy complexity, and I enjoy mixed motivations, and bad choices and the payback from bad choices (and good choices, too). Gwen's character arc simply kept sinking lower, and lower, and lower with all the focus on her. It was as if it was all the writers could do to her: "Let's make this chick SUFFER! Let's make her screw up so bad, ALL the fans will despise her!"

I'm a huge lover of Redemption stories. Just adore them. But, aside from Gwen's devotion to Jack, there wasn't much else to recommend her. She made huge mistakes. She wasn't made to "pay" for them (at least, I don't remember any punishments). She is yet another woman character falling for the Bad Boy and shafting the Good Boy she lives with at every opportunity. She turned into a very unpleasant female cliche. Her angst and personal despair and mistakes should have earned her a place off the Torchwood team. Sure, they all screwed up. The producers made a point of that. But part of the problem with Gwen is that, as the main viewpoint character, she wasn't allowed to experience the full repercussions of her bad choices. Other people did. But not her.

Gwen brings to mind a few other characters in other SF shows: Wesley Crusher; Sam Carter; Will Robinson; all of them "Newbie" characters meant to help the viewer into the new Wonderlands they're experiencing. They aren't necessarily automatically Mary Sue characters, but often, that's what they turn into. I use Mary Sue to mean a Perfect Character with no flaws, or at least flaws that no other character on their shows rarely twigs to, because the writers can't afford to have their Alice Character seen as flawed.

How would I have "fixed" Torchwood? Kept Jack as a Cheshire Cat, certainly: a little mystery is fun. But make him the primary viewpoint. Have him relish (though HIS eyes) the newbie. Explain why he tolerates the other's mistakes. Have Gwen more in the background interacting with the others, but not have a speshul relationship with Capt. Jack: after all, that speshul connection was never fully explained. (it could be explained as a speshul Mary Sueness)

I"m hoping that with the second season of Torchwood that there will be some fixes on the show, adjustments in the scripts, and hopefully, less seen of Gwen. I don't mind if she's still there: but not as a main focus character.



March 2017

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