Today has been a non-stop rollercoaster of personal humiliation. This afternoon, I walked into a door in Asda. This evening, BBC One showed the celebrity Apprentice, an hour-long humiliation of anyone with a penis (see iPlayer to see just what I mean). And now Torchwood is underlining the fact that, as an Englishman, I’m Just Plain Shit.
It’s amazing that even though Torchwood monopolises the lives of the staff so much that while they constantly bleat on about how they have no time for a personal life or their fiancés, Gwen still has plenty of mates at her hen do. But in Wales, you see, everyone is matey. You don’t need to see them to be friends. There are fun-loving friends on tap in Cardiff. It’s the Welsh way!
Really, is it just me or are the Welsh the only ones who are allowed to have any fun in Torchwood? Everyone else is locked in a misery Olympics. America has Captain Jack, who’s only fun in life is his hourly leer at the nearest under-35. England has Owen, who has spent the last two weeks moping around like a perpetual teenager. Japan – at least genetically – has Tosh, who enjoys science and numbers and other quiet pursuits that don’t threaten her prim and proper Asian-ness in the eyes of the writers.
By contrast, Wales has Banana, Rhys’ idiot best friend who is evidently lots of fun, in a 18-30 kind-of way. Knock back your Screamer shot and hit on the nearest Valleys girl; he’s another loveable but dim-witted Welshman. Still, spending time with the Welshest people on television did at least therefore mean there were lots of jokes at hand. Even Tosh was allowed to make a very funny joke about her intolerance to banana.
This was a good strategy as it acted as a distraction from Gwen and Rhys’ plan that got more ridiculous the more you thought about it. To stop their parents, friends and family from knowing that Gwen was temporarily carrying an alien egg, they decided to pretend she was pregnant. And then when they didn’t create a baby…probably crack a joke about it while enjoying a pint of Brains out the front of a Cardiff landmark. Because the Welsh enjoy a joke, you see, unlike those uptight English.
Still, mental stereotyping and plotting aside, this did play out like a fun episode of Buffy. (Even when Torchwood isn’t nicking its plotlines from Whedon it’s still hard to escape from Miss Summers’ shadow.) Rhys continues to be Gwen’s one redeeming feature, but with lots of him and his mother, replaced by a shape-shifting alien to create a spitting mother-in-law from hell, there was some nice comedy of the curtain-twitching variety.
Indeed, this really wasn’t a bad episode, but someone needs to take away the writers Big Book of National Stereotypes to stop this being such a bloody great problem. What about an intelligent Welsh person? Gwen doesn’t count; she’s ‘bolshy’, meaning that she has an air of self-importance while preserving her epsilon-grade mind. Or an Englishman who can crack a smile? You can just bring back James Marsters to deal with that.
Alternatively, kill off Gwen and give Banana a place in Torchwood. It might not do anything for defeating the writer’s idea that the Welsh peeter out at about 80 on the IQ scale. But at least it would be funny.