I have to admit a success on the part of Russell T. Davies! He successfully fooled me, and no doubt countless others, into believing second-in-command Suzie Costello (Indira Varma) would be a regular of the “Torchwood” team. But she’s not, and that’s why she wasn’t at the press launch last week and thus absent from the subsequent photo (see post before last). She was simply a guest in the opening episode, “Everything Changes”, despite the misleading publicity, appearing with the other five on the cover of the Radio Times and with a profile inside, equal to that of the truly-regular members of the cast. I’m not usually so gullible. At least, I hope not. As soon as I saw Tom Cruise confiding in Max Von Sydow, for example, (the previous evening) early on in “Minority Report”, I guessed the outcome. For all its SF trappings, Spielberg’s film is a very traditional affair. And it isn’t as if “Torchwood” is the first series to bump off a “regular” so soon. I’m sure fans of “Spooks” haven’t forgotten the almost immediate demise of Lisa Faulkner. So I was taken in, tricked, not surprised exactly because I hadn’t really had a chance to get to know the character. Was this ploy meant to endear me to the new series or irritate me into dislike? Alienating the audience is becoming a habit with RTD shows. It happened in the last series of “Doctor Who”, at least twice, at the beginning of both “Rise of the Cybermen”, with the humiliation of Mickey, and on arrival in “The Impossible Planet”, whatever the merits might be of the remainder of those two stories.
I didn’t really warm to “Torchwood”, regardless of being duped. The rain looked fake in the opening scenes and the blood spurting from the neck of a hospital porter, having been bitten by a rogue Weevil, the main creature in this new series, was over enthusiastic. Adult doesn’t have to mean copious amounts of gore, cartoon sex and what is euphemistically called strong language! For much of its original run, “Doctor Who” was, and still is, a far more mature affair than either new “Doctor Who” has so far proved to be or “Torchwood” looks like being. A secret subterranean base, the Hub, beneath the centre of Cardiff, reminds of “Batman” while the stone lift rising to street level, cloaked in invisibility until disembarkation, is reminiscent of “Thunderbirds”. Mix what is generally thought of as the province of children’s television with generous lashings of tonsil tennis and supposedly risqué ideas, in the second episode, Chris Chibnall’s “Day One”, lifted from “The Outer Limits” episode “Caught in the Act”, which starred “Charmed” actress Alyssa Milano, only goes to prove Mr. Davies doesn’t have a clue for whom his new series is intended. A person’s level of writing speaks volumes about their maturity. That’s why Claire Tomalin was able to successfully reveal on “The South Bank Show” (later the same evening), with great warmth, wit and enthusiasm, the true nature of Thomas Hardy, the poet, novelist and most-importantly the man, from his writing alone, given that he had destroyed all important documentation pertaining to his life. Unfortunately, there is too much on record for this to be the case with Russell T. (for “Torchy, the Battery Boy”) Davies!