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Torchwood: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Reviewed

Sat patiently waiting for the return of Torchwood, and dose of the NuWhoniverse to satiate my appetite between now and Easter, I wondered how much of an improvement over the first 13 episodes Series 2 would turn out to be.

On this evidence, not much.

Series 1 suffered from an inconsistency which could be put down to “Finding its Feet” syndrome. Varied characterisation, good guest appearances, mixed scripts and some unusually flawed plots. Room for improvement, I think most of us agreed.

Yet strangely, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang merely amplified these failings, rather than attempt to resolve them. James Marsters was spot on as Captain John, a former Time Agent like Jack, around whom the whole plot revolved. With big signposts to help out the clinically moronic.

I don’t expect to be fed plots about some dangerous bombs appearing on earth in a rehash of Jack’s scam from The Empty Child, just so that a new sexually ambivalent ex Time Agent can get our old sexually ambivalent ex Time Agent to go back to the future with him.

It really was that bad.

The best thing about Torchwood is the acting, particularly from Naoko Mori, Eve Myles and Burn Gorman. Barrowman is value for money in whatever, while you could put Gareth Lloyd David on a shelf of white emulsion in B&Q and not spot him.

Sure, there were some good moments – but they were just that, moments, strung together with little cohesion or originality. Surely when your show is based in the universe of another, you need some originality? I’m thinking back to Series 1’s strong points here, Small Worlds and Out of Time in particular. Every episode of Torchwood should be striving to meet that level, earning their place within the Doctor Who universe rather than mincing around in the shadows for a while then jumping out, being all brash and brazen as you like before going home to perform illegal bestial acts.

But less about taste and Torchwood – there’s a whole series of articles there.

Without foreknowledge of Episode 2, I can only imagine that based on this outing, the money men at BBC Two were smacked up when they previewed this, or a sizeable backhander has been paid. Or it could simply be that they don’t care, because Russell T Davies’ name is on it.

If Torchwood were an American series, I would have stopped watching following Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. The opening of the second series is when it should all change, when the things that don’t work get ditched. Yet Russell T has persisted with Chris Chibnall, and Torchwood – the most promising TV series for years – will remain nothing more than promising, and if it’s lucky it will sire a sad cult that make Blake’s 7 fans look on with pity.

So now I sit here, desperately waiting for Freema Agyeman’s episodes to add a bit of class to proceedings, and failing that the return of Gene Hunt in BBC One’s Ashes to Ashes.

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