Yes, this is the one with the “sex alien”. Before I start with this review, allow me to point out that I have never seen Doctor Who. Ever. So all Who-related stuff that I may be confused by, there’s a good reason. Spin-off or not, all this aliens-in-Britain shebang is new to me. And on we go…
Two episodes in and already, Russell T Davis has allowed an idea normally saved for more well-known shows in their later seasons: I’m talking of – yes- sex aliens! Wacky.
In episode two, entitled Day One, we got to see work get in the way of a romantic night between ex-Cardiff PC Gwen Cooper and her boyfriend Rhys, with a giant meteor crash jump-starting her first day as a part of Torchwood Three. (For the uninitiated, the team are: hunky Yank leader Jack, sarcastic git Owen, computer whizz and exposition machine Toshiko and random tea-boy Ianto). Being a newbie, of course, Gwen duffs up at the site of the crime, allowing a mysterious gas to escape from the crime. Don’t these guys have basic training at least?
But oh, this is where the fun begins – the alien possesses a young woman, who has sex with someone in a club bathroom, causing them to turn into dust particles upon climax! At one point in the episode, Gwen remarks sarcastically that the team are looking for a “woman possessed by gas, knobbing people to death”. I think it’s fair to say that K-9 isn’t going to be joining in the fun.
After the excellent pilot episode, Day One is both a step forward and a step backward. As silly as the idea of a nymphomaniac extra-terrestrial gas is, the cast throw themselves into it with aplomb, quipping their way to the relatively gripping conclusion. It’s the fact that the tone changes every couple of scenes that makes this episode feel like a definite step back – one minute the team will be doing their whole fighting-extra-terrestrial-crime-in-leather-jackets thing in all seriousness before cutting away to a ridiculous Goldfrapp-soundtracked scene with our sex alien friend roaming the Cardiff streets. Also, logic is easily abandoned for the plot’s benefit – why would a sperm bank be open to the public in the middle of the night? And could someone please turn the music down a bit? With all the aerial shots of Cardiff placed to the overly busy score, it feels like an obvious desire to show viewers just how EFFING EPIC they think they can be.
Jack Barrowman, who plays the mysterious Captain Jack, is obviously the most well-known of all the characters, even though Eve Myles is just as watchable in this episode, giving Gwen an endearing sweetness that makes me eager to stick about for more episodes – I loved her interrogation methods, for example: “Invade Earth?” she says, all wide-eyed and out of her depth, “that’s what you lot do? …Aliens?” While Jack has the best story arc, involving a mysterious severed hand, Gwen seems to be the soul of the show and the one I want to see succeed in the end. Or should that be, fittingly enough, the climax?