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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later.Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. Spacewarp
    July 26, 2013 @ 1:04 am

    Does anyone remember the mini viral internet video campaign that went out around this time, showing CCTV shots of Carys shagging someone outside the club, who was then vapourised?


  2. Scurra
    July 26, 2013 @ 1:43 am

    "galavanting"?! That one caught me out – I only know "gallivant" (and my Chambers dictionary only has that spelling.) I imagine that it's one of those weird Frenchifying British English word changes e.g. why British English uses "-OUR".

    (I like season one of Torchwood much more than season "two" of Doctor Who. But that's the only time that happens.)


  3. Iain Coleman
    July 26, 2013 @ 3:10 am

    The praise of Eve Myles is richly justified. She did a marvelous job on Torchwood. As the show progresses, she manages to be impressive both as the Badass Action Woman and the attempting-to-be-ordinary wife and mother. This show needs a strong actor at the centre to hold it all together, and dear old John Barrowman, try as he might, really isn't it.

    And Kai Owen! He's fantastic! I actually forget that he's acting, so convincing is his portrayal of an ordinary bloke who has wandered into all of this by accident. You almost expect the credits to read "Rhys Williams as Himself". Wise move not to kill Rhys off at the end of the series.


  4. Lewis Christian
    July 26, 2013 @ 3:38 am

    Quick Q: "I happen to rather like it, or else I wouldn’t be covering it episode-by-episode."

    Will you also be covering The Sarah Jane Adventures ep-by-ep?


  5. IG
    July 26, 2013 @ 3:50 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.


  6. IG
    July 26, 2013 @ 3:55 am

    One very minor point – Mickey and Rose talk about a life of work and chips*, not crisps.

    (*Ie, french fries. Or freedom fries, or whatever you guys call them these days :))


  7. Arkadin
    July 26, 2013 @ 4:56 am

    "By putting the known components of its own mythology in place as its biggest mysteries, Torchwood makes the entire network of mundane and wondrous spaces in which it functions a little bit more uncertain." Which is basically how the Faction Paradox spinoff novels work too.


  8. elvwood
    July 26, 2013 @ 6:37 am

    Absolutely agree, on both. Some of my friends thought Myles was laughably bad, and I couldn't for the life of me see why as I thought she was great; but good as she is, Owen is even better. Though the two roles are so different in function it's hard to compare them.

    [P.S. According to captcha it's "nanoday 55", which sounds like it could be something out of Torchwood…]


  9. Daibhid C
    July 26, 2013 @ 6:41 am

    I've got to be honest, my immediate reaction to this episode was to post on radwm that "alien that makes people have sex" is exactly what I'd use if I was writing a parody of what "adult Doctor Who" meant.

    Having said that, I did like Torchwood. It was a show I probably woudn't have watched if it wasn't for the Doctor Who connection, but I'm glad I did.


  10. Theonlyspiral
    July 26, 2013 @ 6:42 am

    I think I'll just say this now and then try and not to comment on Torchwood: The show had fantastic ideas and characters but never really got over being sexy Doctor Who for me. I think…I think there is just a little less wonder and whimsy in the DNA of the show. I'm not saying it doesn't have moments of them, but that's one of the things I love about Doctor Who. It's larking around after a hat, or riding a Triceratops, or a Russian asking about the future of his favorite band. Hell, it's arguing the merits of humanity based on a well prepared meal.

    I don't want to slag Torchwood, but I don't think it was for me.


  11. Jesse
    July 26, 2013 @ 6:54 am

    This is a very compelling defense of the show I wished Torchwood would be.


  12. Assad K
    July 26, 2013 @ 7:07 am

    At this time, I remember very little about Torchwood, other than finding it pretty naff. What stuck with me about Day One was that there was very little sympathy shown for the vics of the sex monster, and that the possessed woman seemed to be aware that having sex with her ex would be terminal, which moved her from hapless victim of circumstance to active colluder (boyfriend was naught but a douchebag, which is not yet a capital offense). Of course, my memory may be cheating, so corrections won't be protested against.


  13. Ununnilium
    July 26, 2013 @ 7:24 am

    I think my problem with Torchwood was, basically, that it had all the elements in there for the frockest thing ever, but its attitude remained steadfastly gun.


  14. Aaron
    July 26, 2013 @ 7:30 am

    "I don't want to slag Torchwood, but I don't think it was for me."

    This is I think the reason why Torchwood was viewed so tepidly in Doctor Who fan circles. I simply think that Torchwood was aimed at a completely different audience. It doesn't help that the Buffy elements already found in NuWho get turned to eleven in Torchwood (actually, the Angel elements, in particular). The old fans of Doctor Who were already often critical of the ways in which Doctor Who had adopted some of the storytelling techniques of Whedon, had made the show about the companion's emotions and journey, and had focused in general on emotions and character arcs. Torchwood just did all those things but more, and added onto it a heavy amount of sex, which is not minded very much by general TV viewers, but was a big complaint of Doctor Who viewers. Moreover, even the DNA of Torchwood doesn't appeal to the Doctor Who fan: as you said, Doctor Who has an underlying optimism and whimsy, while deep down Torchwood is actually quite cynical about humanity and about people in general.

    All those things are not things that make a bad show. But they are things that in particular are primed to make a show Doctor Who fandom wouldn't like. Starting off with the sex monster episode (which I actually think is quite fun) just shows what level Torchwood purposefully goes to to yell at Doctor Who fans "This isn't for you." But I think, if you view it as a completely different show, or if you like that Whedon brand of drama, Torchwood is quite enjoyable.

    That's not to say it doesn't have weak episodes (Cyberwoman being the only weak one I can remember off the top of my head). But Random Shoes, the one with the people from the 1950s, the one where Jack is hiding all the damaged people that come back through the rift, and the opener to Season two (plus all of Children of Earth) are all really good pieces of drama. And I really like Countrycide 😛


  15. Jesse
    July 26, 2013 @ 7:35 am

    It doesn't help that the Buffy elements already found in NuWho get turned to eleven in Torchwood (actually, the Angel elements, in particular).

    If it were more Buffy than Angel, I would have liked it a lot better.


  16. Theonlyspiral
    July 26, 2013 @ 8:07 am

    I love Angel. I think (again) it has more Whimsy and Wonder to it than Torchwood does.


  17. jane
    July 26, 2013 @ 8:11 am

    I think the Angel comparison is particularly apt. Torchwood is to Who as Angel is to Buffy.

    Thankfully I'm not the "typical" within old-school Who fandom. I love the Whedonesque, and prefer the Revival to what came before. Torchwood was a good fit for me — if anything, it was too childish at times. But from Countryside on, there was little I didn't like, the naff Abaddon notwithstanding, until Miracle Day and the rather less compelling (American) characters found there.

    Also, there's something very "Nightmare of Eden" about Children of Earth, metaphorically speaking, which I liked a very great deal.


  18. Jesse
    July 26, 2013 @ 8:24 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.


  19. Jesse
    July 26, 2013 @ 8:29 am

    I didn't watch Buffy as it aired; I marathoned it on Netflix years later. When I got to the first season of Angel, I jumped back and forth between the two programs, alternating episodes so as to follow the interlocked storylines. And Angel quickly started to feel like something I was forcing myself to watch before I could get to the next Buffy.

    It wasn't a bad series, and someday I may go back and watch the later seasons. But it had so much less humor and invention than its sibling show that I just couldn't do them concurrently. Angel suffered seriously in comparison.


  20. Triturus
    July 26, 2013 @ 8:42 am

    I don't want to slag Torchwood, but I don't think it was for me.

    I sort of do want to slag Torchwood, but that's only because the sex alien episode is the only one I've seen, and I thought it was at least twelve kinds of rubbish. It annoyed me so much I never bothered to watch another episode. I'm aware that I'm being unfair on the programme, so I won't slag it off again on this blog, but I just don't care enough to try Torchwood again.

    Like you said, Doctor Who is just more fun. How long until Smith & Jones?


  21. drjimmy72296
    July 26, 2013 @ 9:18 am

    Is there ever going to be another Doctor Who entry?


  22. Elizabeth Sandifer
    July 26, 2013 @ 9:24 am



  23. drjimmy72296
    July 26, 2013 @ 9:35 am

    Will it be before the 100th Anniversary special in 2063 🙂


  24. HarlequiNQB
    July 26, 2013 @ 9:58 am

    I would think there will be after series one of Torchwood, and prior to series two of Torchwood (or possibly after series one of MJA). Seems logical to me.


  25. David Anderson
    July 26, 2013 @ 10:48 am

    Angel was a weaker series than Buffy. That is not saying much. And Buffy concurrently with Angel was a weaker series than it was at its prime. Again not saying much: there are individual episodes in Buffy Seasons Four to Six that are clear candidates for Best Episode of Genre TV Ever.

    No, I didn't like Torchwood. There were good individual episodes but they never made me care about the series as a whole. I do, however, think Being Human was brilliant.

    Certainly Torchwood is attempting the Whedonesque. But make the comparison. In Torchwood, Owen uses mind control as rape and it's supposed to mark him out as self-centred in a laddish sort of way. In Buffy Season Six, Warren, Jonathan and Andrew attempt rape by mind control. This is the point where they cease to be comic nuisance villains and Warren becomes effectively irredeemable. Basically, once the Torchwood showrunners have made that sort of moral misjudgement, one doesn't want to give them the benefit of the doubt in writing character drama.


  26. David Anderson
    July 26, 2013 @ 11:16 am

    You say Torchwood has a more female fanbase. How does that compare with, say, Being Human? For the record, I think Being Human get right all the things that Torchwood gets wrong.

    At the time this came out, I missed these two episodes of Torchwood, but I heard about Owen's this is sf so it's in no way a date rape drug. That's prejudiced me against the series. And from the other people who've commented negatively about Torchwood here, I don't think I'm the only person for whom that was a hard obstacle to surmount. So presumably the audience who like Torchwood are more forgiving of that kind of wrongdoing.
    My impression, from seeing magazine covers, is that soap also has a model in which a character can do something morally outrageous in one storyline and be forgiven in the next. Is that fair?


  27. Aaron
    July 26, 2013 @ 12:13 pm

    Can we talk a little more about the supposed Owen using a sci-fi date rape drug thing? I'm usually pretty sensitive to these things (if anyone remembers, I was the one who brought up the long conversation about Fall of Yqantine being a metaphor for rape), but at the time I watched this, I didn't really think much of it. And while I definitely think people have a point, I'm not sure I want to go as far as other people here in condemning this as a terrible reprehensible action. To me, it just seems too sci fi-ey to compare directly to rape, and so I get uncomfortable with all the anger that scene has been getting, which was there to a) be a joke and b) to show how sleezy Owen is.

    Rape connotes a violation, or forcing someone to have sex against their will, without their consent. Here, it isn't all that clear that consent is being violated. Mind Control is reprehensible, yes, but it's reprehensible not because it makes people do things against their will, but because it changes what their will is in the first place. IE, it's a sci fi trope to create consent that the person wouldn't have otherwise have had, not to violate consent in the first place. Which is still a terrible thing, but I feel like it's a different category from rape because. And since it's such a sci fi concept, I have trouble using it as an analogy for such a terrible real world event. I don't really know what it would be like if people could mind control other people. I know it would be terrible, but it's not a real world occurence, so the morality of it is much harder to discern.

    And if this situation really is tantamount to rape, do we want to condemn all stories that feature love potions as nothing more than rape apologia? Or is that part of the point- that rape culture is built into fairy tales and legends to the point that love potions are considered "not rape" as a way to excuse certain types of violation of women (or men)? It just to me seems like a different class of immoral action. But I could be wrong, and I'd love for everyone to convince me.

    Given the conformity of views I've seen on this topic over the last couple days, I'm pretty nervous to essentially argue that this "isn't as bad" as people are saying. So I'm trying to be sensitive, and I really would like to here some of the arguments about this scene being an attempted rape scene. Prove to me that it's just as bad, and I'll condemn the moral vacuum that is RTD along with the best of you.


  28. jonathan inge
    July 26, 2013 @ 1:02 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.


  29. Elizabeth Sandifer
    July 26, 2013 @ 1:04 pm

    Sorry, that was an unclear point in the post, and I'll revise it in just a sec.


  30. Spacewarp
    July 26, 2013 @ 1:52 pm

    I'm happy to agree with you on that. It appeared to me at the time (and still does) as you say to be "let's take the standard magical concept of a love potion, give it a sci-fi twist and then drop it into the lap of an amoral Jack-the-Lad and see what fun we can have." And they do have fun because they don't just let Owen have his way as usual, they bring in the enraged boyfriend and give it a further twist where Owen has to give the bf a jolt just to prevent himself from being beaten up. Note that for a few seconds here Owen's faced with the possibility of becoming the rapee. The whole scene's played for laughs and Owen ends up looking a twat.


  31. jonathan inge
    July 26, 2013 @ 1:59 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.


  32. Corpus Christi Music Scene
    July 26, 2013 @ 1:59 pm

    Enjoying Torchwood is hardly condoning Owen's behavior.


  33. Ununnilium
    July 26, 2013 @ 2:31 pm

    Sheesh, it's only been two Torchwoods so far. Don't worry, we've got plenty of Who banked.


  34. Ununnilium
    July 26, 2013 @ 2:36 pm

    Mind Control is reprehensible, yes, but it's reprehensible not because it makes people do things against their will, but because it changes what their will is in the first place.

    I can see not calling it rape… but I can't see not calling it as bad or worse than rape. And when you get down to that level of Not Okay, do the semantics really matter?

    The whole scene's played for laughs and Owen ends up looking a twat.

    That's certainly the writer intent! But the fact that he's trying to do something horrifying and gets ~wacky consequences~ just makes the tonal disconnect more jarring.


  35. Stephen
    July 26, 2013 @ 2:36 pm

    "So, yes, Day One has the sex alien, but it has it for the simple reason that putting the sex alien in at the start means that you effectively settle the “how far will this show go” debate in one handy shot."

    The problem with this approach, however, is that it unnecessarily alienates a certain type of viewer. My memory of the time is that Davies promised us a mature show, whereas I find the idea of a sex alien somewhat juvenile. Because this is the first non-pilot episode, it has the effect of setting our expectations of the tone for the show.

    If this premise had come later in the series, and this slot had been occupied by something like Small Worlds or Out of Time then Doctor Who fandom would have a much higher collective opinion of Torchwood. Fans like me would have viewed the show as a whole as more mature, and the sex alien episode as a sub-par episode – rather than letting it colour our opinion of Torchwood as a whole.


  36. Ununnilium
    July 26, 2013 @ 2:39 pm

    Eh, that's a fairly boring way to do it – I quite like the idea that they're simply different perspectives on the same world. (Maybe not including the later Torchwood minis, because those don't really fit with Doctor Who even on an emotional level.)


  37. David Anderson
    July 26, 2013 @ 2:42 pm

    Push it back one. Does the person consent to being mind controlled?
    If Owen's drug is no analogy at all to real world events, then it can't establish that he's sleazy or anything else about him. If it's close enough to real world events to establish anything about his character, then it's close enough to say that there's some analogy. The most obvious analogy is spiking someone's drink. That's worse than just sleazy.

    Love potions are more ambiguous. Two examples spring to mind: Midsummer Night's Dream and Tristan and Isolde.
    I think it's crucially important to Tristan and Isolde that (in most versions) the potion is administered by a third party who is not herself a significant character. In that way, the potion isn't an action of either of the lovers but a symbol of the arbitrary nature of sexual attraction. Likewise, in Midsummer Night's Dream, the love potion is administered by supernatural creatures rather than the lovers themselves. The Titania plot is a bit more dubious to the degree that we treat Oberon and Titania as equivalent to human agents. It becomes more tolerable the more the fairies are treated as operating according to dream logic.
    If one lover administers the love potion to the other themselves, it becomes morally more difficult. I can't think of such a story offhand. I think it would only be tolerable if the work actively resists being read on a novelistic level as opposed to a symbolic or allegorical level.

    Is Davies morally bankrupt for writing the scene? No: it's fiction in a particular genre pitched at a particular level of idealism vs cynicism; there's no reason to suppose that it represents his settled moral principles. All writers make mistakes. But it means that the series starts out morally in the red.


  38. jonathan inge
    July 26, 2013 @ 2:50 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.


  39. drjimmy72296
    July 26, 2013 @ 2:58 pm

    Zero interest in Torchwood (or the Sarah Jane Adventures for that matter) so the Moffat-like pace of new Who entries is killing me.


  40. Theonlyspiral
    July 26, 2013 @ 3:06 pm

    You mean the Hinchecliffe like wait right? He did it first, Moffat is just making new Who more like it was in the "Golden Age".


  41. Bennett
    July 26, 2013 @ 3:45 pm

    I can only speak for myself, but I think some of the Doctor Who fanbase ire towards Torchwood must stem from the fact that it looks, for all the world, like Davies is cynically exploiting the Doctor Who brand to push out his own failed Excalibur series.

    Being outside of its target audience affects my enjoyment of the show, sure. But it's purely the idea of Torchwood hanging off a show I love like a suckling parasite that makes me actively dislike it.

    this isn't meant as a damning condemnation, though. Good executive producers have to be a bit cynical and exploitative, and I wouldn't pretend for one moment that Moffat, JNT, Lambert, et. al. would be above this type of thing if the opportunity presented itself.


  42. drjimmy72296
    July 26, 2013 @ 3:46 pm

    I'm anticipating a 6-7 month hiatus between Runaway Bride and Smith & Jones.


  43. jonathan inge
    July 26, 2013 @ 3:50 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.


  44. Ozy Jones
    July 26, 2013 @ 4:00 pm

    While I'm not a big Torchwood fan (I was never a big Jack fan either, other than in Empty Child/Dances) it was interesting to watch the reactions of those around me. I watched the first two eps with my wife, whom I have forced to watch Doctor Who with me until she actually likes it. She found Torchwood 'interesting', but somehow lacking in the fun she finds in Who. She didn't bother with it after those first two episodes.

    The next person who came along to tell me I should watch Torchwood was my Mother In-law! An ultra conservative, sixty year old, small country town dwelling, grandma who raved about this great new show I would love.. 'cause it's got some Doctor Who people in it, and aliens and lots of sex and stuff.

    She continued to watch Torchwood long after I quit. And still thinks Doctor Who is silly and childish and won't watch it.


  45. Elizabeth Sandifer
    July 26, 2013 @ 4:12 pm

    I'm not sure how I'd accomplish that.

    The biggest gap is between Last of the Time Lords and Partners in Crime, which is at minimum twenty-one entries of which only one is an episode of Doctor Who in the conventional sense. That'll be about two months.


  46. Theonlyspiral
    July 26, 2013 @ 4:34 pm

    That is going to be a rough stretch.


  47. Elizabeth Sandifer
    July 26, 2013 @ 5:37 pm

    Nothing is a rough stretch after the wilderness years.


  48. jane
    July 26, 2013 @ 6:09 pm

    I think it's sweet.


  49. Pen Name Pending
    July 26, 2013 @ 6:34 pm

    Well, I am rather enjoying the spin off stuff, because I've only seen a bit of Torchwood and scraps of SJA that I could find on YouTube, and I don't want this blog to end too soon!


  50. Theonlyspiral
    July 26, 2013 @ 6:50 pm

    What counts as a long stretch is entirely in the eye of the beholder.


  51. David Anderson
    July 26, 2013 @ 11:21 pm

    Forgiving is not condoning, even if there can be a fine line between them.


  52. David Anderson
    July 26, 2013 @ 11:31 pm

    I can't see how Torchwood parasitises Doctor Who. The only point at which that charge could be sustained is when Moffat can't use Jack in A Good Man Goes to War because Barrowman's filming Miracle Day.
    A spin-off is more likely to work if the writer has been gestating the idea for ages than if they've suddenly decided to come up with something, surely?


  53. Daniel Tessier
    July 27, 2013 @ 12:05 am

    'Just because it's a woman doesn't mean it's ok.'

    I'm glad someone pointed this out. It reminds me of the movie '40 Days and 40 Nights,' which ends with the rape of the barely sensible male protagonist by his ex-girlfriend, for which he is blamed, and the whole thing is played for laughs. 'Day One' isn't this bad, but it does take a long time for it to accept Cerys is raping and murdering men, albeit while not in her right mind.


  54. Abigail Brady
    July 27, 2013 @ 12:24 am

    It's not like this is some novel situation which we haven't got the moral reasoning to deal with, either. What Owen is doing is no different from slipping people roofies.


  55. David Anderson
    July 27, 2013 @ 12:39 am

    I think whether a story with a love potion is morally acceptable depends on a number of things.

    1) Is the person administering the drug presented as someone with realistic human motivations, or are they transparently a plot device? Isolde's nurse is a plot device. Puck is a personification of chaos and accident. Cupid is a personification of falling in love. The only myth in which Cupid is even remotely a character is Cupid and Psyche, in which he accidentally pricks himself; and even then Psyche is the focus.

    2) Is the love potion complication-free? Or is it used to create complications? The former represents a power-fantasy; the latter a symbol of our inability to control emotions.
    2a) Sf/Fantasy: Sf imagery pushes the symbolism towards the power fantasy; fantasy towards the symbolic.

    3) Does the potion override moral culpability? If the person who takes the potion retains moral culpability and is still making decisions as an agent within the story, then that's more acceptable as a story than if they're reduced to a plot reward for the other lover. This raises interesting questions about the psychology of action. But we usually think people are still morally responsible while in love; whereas not if drugged.

    4) Intangibles. Xander in Buffy is still a morally useable character after Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered. The episode was written by a woman so I'm inclined to think it really does negotiate the pitfalls; but I don't think I can easily articulate why.


  56. Alex Antonijevic
    July 27, 2013 @ 2:28 am

    I don't have anything meaningful to add, except that in a 41 episode run, Torchwood has two episodes named "Day One"


  57. BerserkRL
    July 27, 2013 @ 5:09 am

    including a non-zero number who came to Torchwood first and may or may not be all that into Doctor Who

    I have friends who are Torchwood fans but who have never seen Doctor Who and who, until I told them, had no idea the shows were connected (and who still cannot be persuaded to watch Doctor Who).


  58. BerserkRL
    July 27, 2013 @ 5:22 am

    A suggestion that sometimes comes up in sf is that all "ordinary" charisma is really a form of unconscious psi power or pheromones or such. In such a world, the moral issues would get very blurry.


  59. BerserkRL
    July 27, 2013 @ 5:26 am

    "Doctor Who," "Torchwood," and "Sarah Jane Adventures" don't exist in the same universe. Parallel universes mostly likely.

    That seems unnecessary. The real world contains as much diversity of genre, theme, and style as the Whoniverse does.


  60. BerserkRL
    July 27, 2013 @ 5:30 am

    Are you going to do the Torchwood radio plays?


  61. Ross
    July 27, 2013 @ 6:17 am

    I can see not calling it rape… but I can't see not calling it as bad or worse than rape. And when you get down to that level of Not Okay, do the semantics really matter?

    For me, the answer to "Is it rape?" is "It's definitely rape-ish, and I do not care to be in the position of mincing words and looking for outs and saying 'well… technically I guess…' about rape"


  62. Lewis Christian
    July 27, 2013 @ 6:56 am

    I have little interest in Torchwood (watched it, enjoyed it, but a bit 'meh' about it) but I love SJA, so I'm happy to know they may be covered here too. Plus, I don't want the blog to end soon either so it's nice to spread things out.

    Fills the gap between Moffat-Who too.


  63. Lewis Christian
    July 27, 2013 @ 6:57 am

    "Doctor Who," "Torchwood," and "Sarah Jane Adventures" don't exist in the same universe. Parallel universes mostly likely.

    Totally disagree, especially with SJA which mentions the parent series a lot and goes out of its way sometimes to fit in. Plus, they all merge into Who proper come Series 4.


  64. Spacewarp
    July 27, 2013 @ 10:26 am

    Occasionally I manage to step out of the human world for a few seconds, and then I find myself wondering why people get so bent out of shape about such things as this, while being perfectly happy with the idea of a human being shot dead with a gun. That happens every day on US and UK television. People get killed with guns. By people who are identified by the viewers as The Hero.

    And people get sickened by Owen running around with what amounts to an alien pheremone spray?

    It's at this point I mention that I get sickened by the blind hypocrisy of the Television-viwing public…my wife tells me that I'm talking bollocks…and I re-enter the human world, sit down and watch more Telly.


  65. Alan
    July 27, 2013 @ 12:24 pm

    I thought Kai Owen stole every single scene he was in, and when he got into Jack's face in "Meat," I desperately wanted them to kiss. I also thought Eve Myles was good, but I do know several people who found her Welsh accent incomprehensible (a cultural thing — to most Americans, I think any UK accent other than Received Pronunciation might as well be Farsi). Also, it's terribly shallow of me, I admit, but I just could not ignore the gap in Eve Myles' teeth. Orthodonture is some common in America — and especially for aspiring actors — that it's almost unthinkable for the attractive female lead in a tv show to not have perfect teeth.


  66. Alan
    July 27, 2013 @ 12:49 pm

    Angel, IMO, was very uneven in its first season, but got progressively better until the end of S3 and most of S4, when it was completely flummoxed on what to do with Cordelia Chase. S5 was my favorite season, and I was disappointed at its cancellation, as I was eager to see what came next.

    Buffy, IMO, was a good show until its end, but it ceased to be a great show after they graduated, as the central metaphor for the series — High School is Hell — ceased to be relevant. College is not Hell. College is, in fact, quite awesome and I wish I were back there now. That the decline of Buffy from its S3 heights coincides with the first few uneven seasons of Angel is not, IMO, a result of running two shows at once.

    Structurally, I thought Angel was a better show than Buffy because, from its start, it dealt with adult concerns, unlike Buffy, which had a difficult transition to adult concerns after starting off as a show based on adolescent concerns. Case in point: the incredibly contrived manner in which Dawn was introduced into the series just as Joyce was killed off so that Buffy could experience "motherhood" plots.


  67. Alan
    July 27, 2013 @ 12:57 pm

    "And if this situation really is tantamount to rape, do we want to condemn all stories that feature love potions as nothing more than rape apologia? "

    I honestly can't imagine how the use of a love potion to procure sex could be viewed as anything but rape. If having sex with someone too drunk or high to meaningfully consent is rape, then of course, a drug that compels an otherwise unwilling partner to consent is rape.


  68. Alan
    July 27, 2013 @ 1:35 pm

    For me, the disappointing thing about TW was the implication that "Doctor Who for grown-ups" simply meant people were having sex, and more than that, self-destructive sex (rape via mind control, via an affair with a co-worker you hate because you can't talk to your fiance about work, or via an affair with the boss who shot your beloved girlfriend down like a cyber-dog). The strongest episodes were about the moral dilemmas undergone by characters who are thrust into Doctor Who stories but who lack the Doctor's ability to magically resolve all moral dilemmas with a wave of his sonic screwdriver and who are forced to simply muddle through. The weakest are the ones with nothing more interesting to say than "guy on guy is hot!"


  69. Ununnilium
    July 27, 2013 @ 1:37 pm

    Spacewarp: Well, usually, on modern TV, the Hero is only killing people either in self-defense or defense of others. And it's not like there aren't TV killings that I wouldn't label as murder, just as I'd label this rape.

    …and did you just label disagreeing with you as sickening and blind hypocrisy, or am I confused?


  70. Ununnilium
    July 27, 2013 @ 1:38 pm

    Hypertimelines that part and merge.


  71. Spacewarp
    July 28, 2013 @ 10:07 pm

    No I have no problem with anyone disagreeing with me. It's the hypocrisy of the world that bugs me. I'm watching a TV report this morning about how bad Lads Mags are, and how terrible it is that kids can see them when they walk into Tescos, and how it teaches them bad attitudes towards women. But the same kids can buy toy guns in Tesco that teach them that it's ok to shoot other people, and no parents complain about that. So sex on TV is bad, but killing people isn't? We need to get some perspective.


  72. SpaceSquid
    July 29, 2013 @ 5:27 am

    Torchwood is to Who as Angel is to Buffy.

    I'd say Torchwood is to Who as terrible Angel fanfic is to Buffy. A friend of mine, indeed, once argued that there's a fantastic Torchwood show out there that we never got to see, and instead we ended up with the fanfic scripts written by people who had seen that show. In her own words, "If only we could work out what show Torchwood is the fanfic of, we'd be in business".

    It's true that "Day One" has a direct equivalent in Angel's own second episode "Lonely Hearts" – which speaks to Phil's point about attempts early on to stake out just how far a show is willing to go – but Angel quickly through off this kind of "Hey look we're proper adult, here" by, at the latest, episode five. Torchwood confused mature with sweary bonkytimes until the very end of its first year at the very least.


  73. Corpus Christi Music Scene
    July 30, 2013 @ 2:50 pm

    Beauty must truly be in the eye of the beholder then as I found her "gap" to be quite sexy.


  74. Seeing_I
    October 8, 2013 @ 4:33 am

    @ Sandifer: "Torchwood isn’t about our jobs in the general case, but about a specific sort of job – the ones that are as intensely draining as they are rewarding. It’s about the jobs that consume our life, and about remaining grounded in the face of the extremes of humanity."

    Jobs like writing and show-running three science fiction series at once, maybe?


  75. Seeing_I
    October 30, 2013 @ 7:56 am

    Also, I know I'm posting in a dead thread, but has anybody here seen "Liquid Sky"? Cause I think Chris Chibnall has.


  76. encyclops
    July 7, 2014 @ 10:59 am

    If Seeing_I is late to the party, I'm showing up a week later at the wrong address with a bottle of champagne in my hand, but here I am. I haven't been reading the Torchwood updates at all, because I've been aware of the animosity toward the show among Doctor Who fans and wanted to watch the show and form my own opinion about each episode before I read the essay and comments about it. I've been going at it pretty slowly, obviously, because I just watched this one this week.

    So it comes as a surprise to me that you're pretty positive about it, Philip, at least two episodes in. Not that I should be surprised that you're bucking the Who fan consensus, since that's normal for you, but for some reason I'd assumed that Torchwood wouldn't be your kind of show. I don't know if it's mine, but I've been surprised to find I enjoyed the first two episodes as well and definitely plan to keep watching.

    Two themes in the comments thread stuck out to me. One is the furor over the morality of the characters. I think there's something a bit off-base and limiting in the idea that we must expect to approve of the behavior of every single one of our ostensible protagonists (or indeed in the behavior of an otherwise sympathetic character under the partial/nearly total influence of an alien parasite). I see this among a lot of genre fans, some of whom will completely freeze out a show as soon as one of the supposed "white hats" does something dubious (even something like a male character cheating on his girlfriend with the "wrong" woman). If nothing else, I think it severely limits the kinds of stories you can tell if your audience insists on approving of every action every character takes; we've even gotten to the point where certain kinds of villainy are too villainous to be depicted or even implied. In any case, I didn't see anything in these first two episodes to make me think that I was supposed to see the Torchwood team as morally upright in every respect, and a lot to suggest that I wasn't — not just the Owen incident, but also Gwen's incredulity at all the surveillance tools and data access the team isn't "supposed" to have. There's a clear suggestion that Torchwood is overpowered and underresponsible. I don't know how this gets played out later on, but I don't think we're supposed to laugh it off. And that's an important story to tell you can't do if you insist that they must all be white hats through and through. That's why Gwen's there.

    The other thing I noticed was the idea that a story based around sex must be "juvenile." This is part of the plague of poetic irony, the same one that claims what you don't see is scarier than what you do. If adults have sex — some do — and they get into addictive sexual behaviors to shore up their self-esteem — some do — and they need the generosity and selflessness of others to be able to break that cycle — some do — then this story is as adult as anything. Some juveniles do these things too, but telling a story about it isn't juvenile. Being embarrassed by it, thinking the story would be better with the curtains tastefully drawn…that seems kind of juvenile to me.

    I doubt anyone will read this, but that's never stopped me before. 🙂 Looking forward to reading the rest of these as I work my way through Torchwood.


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