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Torchwood thinkie

Probably the last thing I need to do is write a long post about my thoughts on Torchwood: Children of Earth. I've been working much of the day on formatting a resources section in this book edit, and it's such a mess that my RSI is about 100x worse than normal and my head aches and my eyes are crossed. But I can't stop thinking about it and talking to myself about it, since there's no one else to talk to. The cats are usually quite unperturbed by Capt. Jack's manpain.


A lot of people have said things better than I could and also most people are smarter than I am, so I don't have a lot to add, especially since infinitemonkeys said a lot of it here for me anyway. In particular, one of my first thoughts when the final credits rolled is that it seems they are setting up for a different show, different stories. I'm not sure how I feel about that; Torchwood was one of the first things to come along in a few years that really thrilled me, fannishly.

I have never been a big Doctor Who fan, but Captain Jack hit a lot of my buttons and the show and later TW gave me what I wanted from him in a big way. I have a way of looking at things that seems very far outside the norm in my fandom circles, and I get a lot of shit for my beliefs or interests in fandoms -- the past few years, I've become less and less vocal about what I watch, preferring instead to vid if I feel really interested or on rare occasions, write. Every time I open my mouth, people get pissed off because they don't agree with me. I don't even do meta anymore, largely because I feel like so much of an outlier. So I hate to see the incarnation of Torchwood that I fell in love with changing to such a drastic degree (ending, I guess I can deal with). There isn't much left for me to feel that way about. I don't think it's ending, though -- the move on BBC alone would indicate that they want more from it, just a different more, but it feels as if it won't be a more I want.

CoE reminded me a lot of movies and books of the late '60s or early '70s. The early '70s in particular produced some of the darkest, grimmest, deepest entertainment, the likes of which we haven't seen since. A movie like Chinatown could not be made in modern America; we know that something rated X wouldn't even get booked into a regular theatre, let alone win the Best Picture Oscar the way Midnight Cowboy did. And I kept thinking of those sorts of movies, and how the independent film movement grew out of the seeds of those earlier films, when I watched TW last night. It's also clearly done with a British sensibility; I don't know that even HBO would touch a storyline so utterly bleak and cruel in this country. It really is one of the grimmest things I've ever seen, and I'm a fan of Deadwood and The Wire.

I've seen a few people comment that the reveal of why the 456 wanted the children was dull or stupid or what have you, but I thought it was pretty great and horrible because it's so far outside of what most of us in the western world could really see as a reason. It's mundane and horrific at the same time, and we're so programmed to think of these things in terms of large-scale catastrophe -- surely the aliens must want the children because they need them for something important, like maybe saving their planet? Their race? Keeping them alive? Powering their technology? But no, it's basically taking what we consider to be the most important things in most of our lives in order to get high. That's an incredibly chilling juxtaposition.

But that's kind of where my yay TW ends, because the rest of it... I felt angry and cheated, and no, it's not because my woobie Ianto died. (Though, my woobie Ianto died, and I am really, really sad.) It's because I thought most of it was cheapening and messing with these characters and what they do and yet another goddamn "I like to kill of characters" showrunner who seems clueless about what makes people love the work. I have this huge rant inside me about the cult of the modern show creator that I often consider writing about, but I don't think most people would care. I really should write it down just so the next time I want to rant I can link to something that's already written.

I don't have a lot of love for Davies. I think he's kind of a jackass. I liked him at first for the whole reboot spin he put on DW, but like a lot of people who develop this cult around their work, where they become as entwined with the stories as the characters are and too much of their personality pushes into the medium, crosses boundaries it should stay out of, he's moved from bringing a fresh sensibility to the genre into making it all about him. I think he likes to shove two fingers at the fans, the very people who brought him this success.

That's the only way I can explain something like Ianto's death. I really hate it when people die of Teh Dumb. That whole thing was so far beyond asinine that I couldn't quite wrap my brain around it. Like it had to be a joke. It's like Davies thought it would be really cool, and no one was willing to stand up to him and say, hey, you know, that's stupid and Jack wouldn't be that moronic and neither would Ianto. But possibly he sees Ianto as being so besotted, and thus stupid, enough to go up to the 456 and say "Stop it now" with Jack and expect them to stop it now. You know the minute Ianto says they should make the most of their time that he's a dead man.

That's just cheating. It's weak and poor storytelling and cowardly. I hate that kind of writing. I've hated it when Joss has done it, too. And that's where King of the Showrunners delusions of grandeur seem to come in, and wreck our entertainment. While I didn't want Ianto to die, I would have been okay if he'd died doing something brave and loving, the way Ianto is. Not being tagalong moron. And I hate seeing Jack, who can totally be an idiot, being SUCH an idiot that he'd throw Ianto into it without a second's thought. That's not really very Jack-like.

Anyway. I could beat that dead horse into a pulp if I don't stop now. There were some things I really loved, like pretty much every freaking thing with Rhys. I loved Clem but felt so agonizingly awful for him. At first I loathed Frobisher, even though he was played by Peter Capaldi, whom I've loved since Local Hero all those years ago, because that mindless governmental deceit always makes my blood boil, but pretty quickly it was the PM and that guy... what was his name? The frequency guy, who I hated even more. That frequency guy was just... as much as I hated the black ops woman, I was happy when she shot the fucker in the leg. He was a sick, evil little man. Loved Jack's daughter and grandson, and Ianto's sister. I hope if there's a future incarnation, Lois is in it.

So the characters had some life, but the story just... I dunno. I can handle the cracky dumb plots of TW and I'm happy with them, but it really did feel like we were being yanked around in ways I don't really enjoy. I knew Jack's grandson was a goner, but what bothered me more was thinking that if Ianto had been there for that, it could have driven a very interesting wedge between them. It probably wasn't a sustainable relationship, much as I loved it, but I think a less cheap and sleazy way to change it would have been to make use of the most powerful part of the whole story -- Jack being forced to kill his own grandchild to save millions -- and have Ianto be faced with just how much he can never really know or understand someone like that.

I'm not good at retconning stuff. It will be hard for me to keep this separate from seasons 1 & 2. I don't usually watch my vids over again much on my own, but I watched my TW vid from last year again, just to try to recapture some of the warmth I feel for the show. I'm not sure I'll get that back. I don't know what it's future will be, but it's going to be different, and I know I will feel quite differently about it. It's good to be challenged in your entertainment, like we were by those fabulous dark movies of the '70s, but I don't want loving them to be challenging. I think I'll hang on to those first three episodes, and try to learn how to retcon the rest.

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Comments

gwyn_r
Jul. 13th, 2009 07:11 am (UTC)
Yeah. The ticket I paid for wasn't for this leg of the trip! I actually love the dark bleak quality about it, and most of the story is pretty great, but it falls apart at the end, and I think taking the easy way out about Ianto just sent me over the edge.

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