Beneath the stones, the beach; beneath the beach, Cthulhu

Skip to content

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
    November 1, 2013 @ 12:47 am

    By well into the second season it became plain that one of the problems Torchwood suffers from is that it's essentially a Doctor-lite episode extended into a series. It's all about how badly people do when the Doctor isn't there. Except unlike "Love & Monsters" or "Turn Left", it doesn't all get cosily wrapped up by next week, when the Doctor comes back from his hols.

    Someone dies in Torchwood, they're stll dead next week. Two cast members start shagging, they're still shagging next week. This kind of continuity in an ongoing drama series is what makes that series great, but not in Doctor Who, where although we do like the arcs that have become the mainstay since 2005, we still prefer a modicum of Reset button at the end of each Who story, a clearing of the palate so to speak.

    I think this is because when the Doctor arrives on Planet Zog we want him to give his full attention to the plight of the Zoggites, not to be still agonizing about the fact that the Companion got married/left/died last week. Although in certain cases (The Snowmen) the Doctor's damage from the previous story serves as part of the plot, mostly we start each week with a clean slate.

    As Phil points out without Torchwood being a spinoff, most of it would be just a formulaic and unremarkable action-adventure-SF-horror series, and you do kind of get the feeling that Torchwood would really like it's audience to forget the Doctor Who connection and just start treating it on it's own merits…except that it can't quite pluck up the courage to drop the connection itself. [George McFly] What if we never mention the Doctor again, and nobody tunes in? I don't think I could take that kind of rejection. [/George McFly]

    I wonder if the gap between Series 2 and Children of Earth actually helped Torchwood in this regard? Apart from Gwen's speech about the Doctor being ashamed of us, there's a feeling that Torchwood had finally outgrown its parent series and could stand confidently on its own.

    In fact not casting Freema might have served to "cut the cord" even earlier. They only need someone with medical skills to be Owen when Owen's dead, and who also happens to be female for the peril-monkey scenes. It doesn't have to have been Martha Jones.

    Would the story have been better served if this had happened? It's interesting to speculate what Phil's post this week would have been like. Perhaps he'd be saying "essential to the plot as she was, the female doctor role could equally have been played by Freema Agyeman as Martha Jones, allowing Torchwood to take another nod to its parent show, and pleasing fans in the process."


  2. Alex Antonijevic
    November 1, 2013 @ 12:56 am

    I always thought it was interesting that Torchwood basically gets a Cyberwoman and Martha Jones, while Sarah Jane Adventures gets K9, The Brigadier, Jo Grant, 10th and 11th Doctors, Slitheen, Judoon, Sontarans…

    As far as The Doctor goes, all Torchwood can do is name drop him from time to time.


  3. Amsel von Spreckelsen
    November 1, 2013 @ 1:09 am

    For people in Britain I think the impact of having Alan Dale on the show was much bigger than if he had just been that guy off the O.C., because what he really is and always will be to many is Jim Robinson from Neighbours, which was a giant part of the childhoods of the age-group BBC3 was aimed at at the time. I think that that informed at least to some extent the pantomime nature of the episode – ex Neighbours stars are a staple of the Christmas panto season – and certainly influenced the expectations of viewers. I mean, it doesn't exactly excuse the wonky moralising on a show that has shown it can do better, but when you've got Jim Robinson playing a pantomime villain for me at least the episode is working on an entirely different logic.


  4. Spacewarp
    November 1, 2013 @ 2:50 am

    I still can't figure out why SJA works better than Torchwood, seeing as they fundamentally start from the same base – Doctor Who Spinoff. As you point out there's huge points of comparison – Sarah Jane=Jack, Clyde/Luke/Maria/Rani=Torchwood Team, SJ's Attic=The Hub, plus various guest starts.

    The differences though. SJA is quite happy to remain connected to the parent show, and due to its audience, relies on the connection.

    Also like Doctor Who, SJA does reset to default after each story, with very little in the way of arc, and fairly minimal in-show continuity. Along with the fact that the cast of SJA are far nicer than the cast of Torchwood (with happier lives), this probably helps maintain the optimistic air of SJA. When Torchwood carries its misery forward from each story to the next it's not surprising how pessimistic it is.


  5. jane
    November 1, 2013 @ 6:09 am

    Not being a fan of Neighbors or the OC, I saw Alan Dale's presence in the context of LOST. Given that the show ends with Owen's death, and through that death becomes a meditation on death itself, I thought it rather apt.


  6. Theonlyspiral
    November 1, 2013 @ 6:15 am

    "The only reason to pick Freema Agyeman over Jackie Lane is that Agyeman, at twenty-eight, fits Torchwood’s “young and sexy” aesthetic."

    I would watch the hell out of that show. Seriously.


  7. Theonlyspiral
    November 1, 2013 @ 10:40 am

    Will there be a Pancaking this week if we don't have a waffling? If only to discuss Ender's Game and the monstrosity that is it's author.


  8. Elizabeth Sandifer
    November 1, 2013 @ 10:45 am

    I try not to think about Ender's Game much anymore, due to not being a thirteen-year-old boy anymore.


  9. peeeeeeet
    November 1, 2013 @ 10:58 am

    what he really is and always will be to many is Jim Robinson from Neighbours

    Yes, absolutely. It's hard for Brits in their latish 20s not to have had a Pavlovian response when he appeared. Here's what I had to say at the time:

    Jim Robinson From Neighbours to appear in Torchwood

    BBC bosses confirmed that actor Jim Robinson From Neighbours will appear in the new series of Torchwood, ending weeks of speculation that this might be the first drama series in the history of television not to feature the prolific actor.

    Robinson will appear in four episodes of the Cardiff based saga, which follows the turbulent lives of a coven of bisexual Pterodactyl rapists.


    Russell T Davies confirmed that Robinson would play a character called "The Big Raider". BBC Wales Head of Drama Julie Gardner commented, "you just can't tear Russell away from that anagram generating website."

    Torchwood's debut series was watched by a record 40 million viewers, and never rated lower than 96% audience appreciation, and anyone who says otherwise cannot get a girlfriend.


  10. elvwood
    November 1, 2013 @ 11:53 am

    I remember almost nothing about Reset other than Owen's "death" – I'd even forgotten that Martha was in it! And that's probably all I have to say.


  11. Theonlyspiral
    November 1, 2013 @ 11:53 am

    It seems to impress itself on people in a strange way. It catches adolescents at the right time and they are fans forever. It confuses me completely.


  12. Triturus
    November 1, 2013 @ 3:35 pm

    From the sound of things I should be relieved that I didn't read it as an adolescent. Because everything I've read about the book and about Card makes me determined to dislike it. But then start thinking that I shouldn't condemn a work of fiction just because of the views of the author. Then I remember that we're not talking about Wagner here, we're just talking about some hack SF writer; and there are loads of those that I haven't read yet, most of whose politics I don't find objectionable. So Ender's Game goes to the bottom of a very long reading list.


  13. Ross
    November 1, 2013 @ 3:52 pm

    I suspect it's because the one thing the Doctor can't do is grow up. He can come down off his cloud and play with the children once a season fine, but he can't ever walk into the world of Real Proper Grown Ups With Sex and Stuff.


  14. T. Hartwell
    November 1, 2013 @ 5:35 pm

    I still think Speaker is a phenomenally good book, albeit completely in spite of Card himself.

    Someone linked to an interview with Card the last time this was brought up, which I think made a good point that Card didn't exactly write the books he thought he wrote.


  15. elvwood
    November 1, 2013 @ 11:59 pm

    I first read Ender's Game/Speaker for the Dead as a forthysomething-year-old, and fortunately didn't know anything about Card as it would have put me off (I try to separate the artist from the art, but generally can't manage it if I know too much about the artist beforehand). I think T. Hartwell has it right, that the books don't necessarily say what Card thinks they do. Certainly I'm in no hurry to watch the film, as I can't see it getting past glorying in the surface gloss of violence.


  16. David Thiel
    November 2, 2013 @ 6:03 pm

    I also read Ender's Game as a fortysomething, and honestly, I found the end quite moving. I didn't read any of the follow-ups, simply because the story seemed quite self-contained. This, of course, was before I knew of Card as anything other than an author who occasionally wrote rather douchey articles on the Interwebs. Nowadays, I can't see myself reading any of his stuff…I know too much about him.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.