+++ MINORITY INTEREST POST +++
(But hey - aren't they all?)
So. Onto pastures new.
Torchwood has moved to the US of A. It has eschewed the bright lights and broad vowels of Cardiff and gone for the clipped and curled accents of, er, somewhere in America.
And this is the problem. They may have said exactly where in America the action is taking place but if they did I didn't take it in. And neither can I figure it out for myself by trying to eyeball any landmarks in the establishing shots. It appears to be somewhere in "TV America". That mythical place that seemed to come into being sometime over the 50's and 60's and then solidified into a place in the hearts and minds of kids the world over in the 70's and 80's.
TV America is how the rest of the world believes America to be. Michael Knight lives next door to B.A Baracus. Charlie's Angels sell Avon products to Jody from The Fall Guy.
It isn't real.
And this is why I am having a hard time getting my head around the current series of Torchwood. The plot is interesting. The ideas are good. The action is glossy, slick and movie quality. Clearly a lot of moolah has been spent on the show. £10,000,000 from what I've read. Though possibly that's in dollars rather than pounds. There's been some heavy-ish investment from an American TV channel / producer. A cash injection that would make even Captain Jack's eyes water.
And this, I suspect, explains everything.
The show is angling itself toward the American market. It has transformed itself into an American-ready chicken. Notice I didn't say turkey. Because it isn't that bad.
It's just the American thing... Don't get me wrong, I like America. I loved all those American action shows as a kid; they fed my young imagination. But it doesn't work with Torchwood. It doesn't work for me.
It feels too glossy. Too generic. Too Eighties pastiche. Rather than emulating modern American action shows it feels like they're emulating American action shows from 20 years ago. It clashes and it grinds. And not in a good way.
The American actors give it their all. They're reliable; they're competent. It's damning them with faint praise but it's true. Eve Myles as Gwen Cooper acts them all off the screen. Maybe it's the quirky Welsh thing? Maybe she seems more believable simply through familiarity? But I don't think so. Her acting and her emotional responses are streets ahead of everybody else. A couple of weeks ago she did a scene at the bedside of her on-screen father. He was ill in hospital. Her performance was brilliant. Real, gritty, restrained and yet emotionally full at the same time.
Everybody else behaves like a cartoon character in comparison. It's like the American contingent are just going through the motions. Possibly seeing their outing on Torchwood as merely a way to be noticed by one of the bigger TV channels, who knows?
John Barrowman too is pretty good but his character feels like it has been emotionally dumbed down. There's no range or even much scope for range at the moment. Maybe that will change as the series progresses? I hope so.
In the meantime I will stick with it. The plot has enough hooks in it that I want to see what happens next. This isn't a bad piece of TV.
It's just that after the previous Torchwood outing it feels like they've lost something. A little heart. A little soul.
I suspect there is a little demon running around somewhere thinking that's it's got itself a good deal.
And that's fine, believe me - as long as we, the viewers, are not ultimately short-changed.