Torchwood: Children of Earth - Day Three

Category: , , , By Rev/Views

Torchwood: Children of Earth - Day Three can be watched on the BBC iPlayer here.

You hear that sound? That almost inhuman cry of rage and frustration echoing out across the land followed by a tearing sound and two soft wet plops? That was me ripping out my eyes and ear drums during that episode of Torchwood. I know I wrote that almost nothing happened yesterday, but at least it was exciting nothing - this was genuinely nothing AND boring to boot.

Seriously, I can't remember the last time I've been so annoyed while watching a TV show as the last few moments of Day Three. Sat there having to slap my face in order to remain conscious while waiting for the dull monosyllabic fart breathing alien 456 s-l-o-w-l-y trot out it's rather ludicrous demand*.

*[Which for the record is a ten percent tithe of the world's children. Because why make sensible demands the human race is going to consider when you can be a cartoony super-villian style monster? (They could be making this daft request just as an excuse to start a war mind you). Someone get that alien a moustache to twiddle and a white cat to stroke.]

OK, initial rant aside. What was good in this episode? The stealing montage was kind of amusing, likewise the dressing up scene was also fun and Rhys again got some great and very human lines. Lois and Clem continue to be interesting characters (even if Lois is a rubbish liar) and the show continues to trot out amusing lines regarding Ianto's sexual orientation. Also the show cleverly kept the alien 456 out of sight, concealing it's appearance enough to make it look threatening and mysterious. What I did see of it reminded me of The Great Race of Yith.

If I'm honest I'm not sure why it reminded me of them, I guess just because it looks like strange things on the ends of tendrils, still being compared to a Lovecraftian monster is a GOOD thing, as all the cool monsters come from the Cthulhu Mythos. Just ask any Shoggoth.

But there were so many things wrong with this episode that the good was buried under a pile of mundanely and dross. I was consistently wound up by all the scenes involving the 456, which were slow paced and suffered from absolutely terrible continuity. If you have an alien which is busy spewing up on the inside of your tank at random moments it's pretty jarring to have the tank magically clean before each spew. I lost count of the number of times that green junk splashed up against the inside of a completely clean tank. Who's in charge of continuity and realism in the Torchwood development team? They need to be fired, immediately.

Likewise whoever thought the slow nature of the conversation between Frobisher and the smog tank would build suspense needs to be shown the door as well - it wasn't tense, it was frustrating and annoying. I was so un-gripped by it that I had no problem repeatedly pausing the scene to do other things, that's not the sign of gripping TV. In contrast during an episode of The Shield I watched earlier today I needed to pee about ten minutes into the story and refused to go to the loo until the episode was over - and I was watching that show on DVD and had seen it before at least four times.

I'd like to write more, but really I don't have much else to say except I pretty much hated this episode passionately. I'm going to catch the final two episodes, I still want to give Torchwood a chance to turn things around because I want to believe in the show. But it's not looking good if their going to keep milking these overly laboured and frankly boring moments.

All you need to know about this episode can be boiled down into a few points. In 1965 Jack gave 12 children to the 456 who promised that was all they wanted. Clem was supposed to be one of them, but ran away and went mad. It turns out the 456 lied, now they want 10% of all the world's children. That's it.

Gripping TV this was not. Please, please let Episodes 4 and 5 turn this around. Don't let me down BBC Wales.

For an alternative take on the episode check out Snark and Fury and Dan's Media Digest.

(For the record I'm tired and I might revise my opinion in the morning. But this episode of Torchwood actually gave me a huge headache, I can't remember the last time a TV show caused me physical pain.)


2 comments so far.

  1. Dan 9 July 2009 at 15:01
    You must have been tired, or not in the mood. I also detect a lot of unfair comparisons to the likes of The Wire or The Shielf from, wel, The Wire and The Shield fans. It's obviously never going to compare to those shows in any meaningful way, for a variety of reasons. I think you need to judge things against things in its own genre and particular niche (TW has always been the scampy younger brother of DW with more swearing, really.)

    Certainly there can be no excuses for Day 4 and 5, tho, as things need to start exploding into life now. Big answers, big threat, big action, lots of pace, etc. Hopefully RTD has intentionally avoided the "filler episodes" of 2 & 3 and we'll come to realize COE was only ever a three-part story at heart.
  2. Rev/Views 10 July 2009 at 00:17
    I certainly wouldn't directly compare Torchwood to The Shield or The Wire. That's like comparing a cereal breakfast to a full three course meal. They serve different functions and there's really little common ground except for the fact that they're both food.

    But even compared to Doctor Who (and still taking a heaping of salt to adjust for the weaker nature of TW) that episode was hugely lacking. It was lacking by even Torchwood standards - I've since rewatched the Frobisher/456 scenes and they remain excruciatingly painful.

    I haven't watched part 4 yet and I will forgive this part if the final pay off is good. But this story feels stretched out at five episodes, which is pretty bizzare in my opinion. Five hours shouldn't result in two filler episodes right in the middle...

Something to say?