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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. Daibhid C
    October 25, 2013 @ 12:16 am

    "All of his railing against Captain Jack for being just as bad as the officers in World War I is pointless; the show can’t let us really believe that of Captain Jack."

    The thing is, I can believe that about Captain Jack. As with Sleeper, the episode works a lot better if you assume the message is meant to be "actually, the Torchwood Institute – introduced in Doctor Who as the bad guys – is still kind of horrible." And with this interpretation, the hubris of "Torchwood is ready" becomes Jack's equivalent of "Time Lord Victorious". (Especially since, with hindsight, we know Torchwood is going to prove completely unready for anything.)


  2. Marionette
    October 25, 2013 @ 3:32 am

    Second season, surely?


  3. Prole Hole
    October 25, 2013 @ 6:16 am

    "All of his railing against Captain Jack for being just as bad as the officers in World War I is pointless; the show can’t let us really believe that of Captain Jack." I think I'm inclined to agree with what Diabhid C says – this show has never had difficulty showing us that Jack can do bad things (sacrificing a child on two separate occasions, for example, even if there was "no other way"). We have other other characters for sympathetic angles and audience POV, which allows them to take Jack to different places (though this is something that isn't really taken advantage of enough). He needs to keep a sympathetic angle to a certain extent, that's true, but having us thing bad things of him? Never been a problem. He's never been (and never becomes) an unambiguous hero or good guy. To be clear, I'm also not saying that the moralizing is successful, just that it's not a failure because it casts Jack as a bad guy (it's a failure because it's not especially well written).

    And on a related subject I'm not sure how "being a blander BBC Two show" squares away with the first episode of the season, the one which should really try and hook viewers in, being that the first episode consists of a big hot man-on-man snogfest, self-indulgent fan references and a jealous gay love story (with a twist!). Isn't that the opposite of being bland and just trying to fit in to the schedules (and certainly not familiar and unthreatening)? If they really wanted to do that wouldn't it have been more sensible to, say, focus on a bit of Gwen-being-all-domesticated and relegate the Jack n John stuff more to the background? True the two episodes which follow the debut are a bit on the bland side (though I at least give this one points for trying – it's just in this case the strange abutting of mundane and fantastic spaces happens to the guest character of the week rather than the regulars) but I don't think things are quite as clear-cut as presented.


  4. Theonlyspiral
    October 25, 2013 @ 6:49 am

    I think you aren't giving the officers from World War I enough credit. Look at battles like Gallipoli or Passchendaele where men were fed into a meat grinder. Or the execution of men suffering "Shell Shock". The deployment of Mustard Gas. If Jack were to order thousands of men to their deaths for a few miles of land, use chemical weapons or summarily execute Gwen after a traumatic experience prevented her from doing her duty to Torchwood, it would be the end of him as a character. We are willing to tolerate a difficult sacrifice from time to time or something slightly shady. He's still in the right 99% of the time. For him to truly become as monstrous as those men he's compared to here, it would be a fatal wound to the character.


  5. Theonlyspiral
    October 25, 2013 @ 7:00 am

    This is what I was talking about on Wednesday. I don't have anything new to add to the conversation, as my thoughts are pretty in line with the post. Just wanted to comment so you know we're still reading and interested.


  6. Prole Hole
    October 25, 2013 @ 7:07 am

    I suppose that is factually true – obviously we're not seeing Jack being literally responsible for something like the half a million people that died at Ypres, or gassing people with mustard gas or whatever – I was more trying to say that the show has no problem showing him in a bad light and whilst he might not be on a par with the officers who perpetrated those atrocities, from a "trench eye view" it's entirely possible that a Tommy, even one with his one-day-a-year with Torchwood perspective, might be able to see an equivalency (even if, from our point of view,we know the two things don't equate with each other).


  7. BerserkRL
    October 25, 2013 @ 7:46 am

    Tommy in general is a particularly deft example of the man out of time

    But he never makes use of a throwable round red white and blue shield. That omission made Tommy less believable for me.

    a World War I theme park is not a particularly appealing concept.

    Yes, when Troughton visited one he immediately said "Filthy stuff … Let's try and get away."


  8. Nyq Only
    October 25, 2013 @ 11:21 am

    The issue is one from Kant's ethics – treating a person as a means to an end rather than as an end in themselves. The scale of Jack's unethical behavior is not that of WW1 generals and the stakes are higher and he has a reasonable chance of success – so from a utilitarian perspective on ethics there is no comparison between Jack and a WW1 general. Yet he is still a manipulative, cynical f*ck.


  9. Alex Antonijevic
    October 25, 2013 @ 7:23 pm

    Ah, so we're in another stretch of the blog where the tone is mostly negative. Lovely.


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