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[personal profile] fairyd123


This is a little late as I was out all of Friday and Saturday but I finally got round to watching Day 5.

To me good drama has the ability to challenge, inspire and provoke its audience. It's never been a requisite that a decent drama series must have a happy ending. Life isn't like that so why should a drama serial reflect anything else? But for me a good drama series should also be entertaining.

For me Children of Earth took Torchwood from being a fun Hollywood Blockbuster style enterprise with beautiful character moments and turned it into one of those oh so worthy and horribly depressing Oscar contender movies that people in pubs pretend they've seen so that they look intellectual when really they switched it off after 15 minutes and watched the latest Jason Statham movie instead.

Put simply if I wanted to feel suicidal I'd just watch the news 24/7.

Children of Earth was a well written, beautifully acted and directed and utterly nihilistic piece of drama which decimated virtually everything we knew and loved about Torchwood and left it nigh on impossible for the show to continue in its present form.

Where do I start?

Jack's reaction to Ianto's death was both perfect and utterly infuriating at the same time.

By killing Ianto the 456 did to Jack what they'd done to all the children previously.

He just...stopped.

Jack had gone to fight the 456. He declared war on them in a foolish moment of sheer bravado as a quite insane way of making up with Ianto. He wanted to show Ianto that he was every inch the man that Ianto believed him to be - that he could fight, that he could stand up to be counted and not be the man who just handed over 12 children in 1965 without blinking. That he was worthy of Ianto's love.

But without Ianto by his side, with him gone Jack just completely and totally caved.

You've got Gwen all passion and fire and grief hell bent on bringing down the government if they don't allow Torchwood to help and Jack? Well he's just sat there, red eyed, grief etched deeply on his features, looking at the body bags and going "whatever honey- we've lost. I don't care anymore."

It's a very human reaction to tragedy. Jack has been through so much, lost so much in such a short period of time and losing Ianto is the straw that broke the camel's back. He just completely and totally gives up and is quite content to just sit passively in his prison cell and wallow in his pain and grief and guilt. Because the man that loved him, who thought that he truly was more than the superficial selfish coward that I think Jack still believes himself deep down to be (which makes me ache for him) has gone - so what does it matter anymore?

Nor do I think the reaction was particularly out of character. Russell has depicted Jack like this previously. In The Stolen Earth/Journey's End Jack's reaction to seeing the Dalek fleet was sheer terror followed by him immediately giving up. He kissed Gwen and Ianto goodbye and was quite content to stay huddled away with the two of them in the Hub, like rats in a trap, letting his fear master him until Harriet Jones showed up on the video feed and shamed him into action.

To me Jack's reaction was so very human and in character - but it was also absolutely infuriating. Because Captain Jack Harkness has the world to save - he can't allow himself to hide away and leave it to everyone else to sort out. He's the hero and the hero's job is to step up when noone else will. And while he was sitting there completely broken in his prison cell I wanted to reach into the tv and shake him. You could practically hear Ianto screaming at from the heavens to get a grip and pull himself together. Plenty of time to wallow in self pity after you've wiped the 456 off the face of the earth. But instead Jack just sat there head bowed, totally broken. It didn't make a huge deal of sense that he went back to being the all action super hero when Johnson had him broken out of his cell either. I guess we were supposed to assume that he pulled himself together because his daughter was relying on him - that it was her faith that spurred him to action - but that didn't quite come across.

And of course Jack had to kill his own grandson. Of course he did. And it was a horrible and nasty, utterly OTT, bleak death. And a death which left me curiously unmoved. Which is a truly awful thing to say about the death of a child - particularly a death as gruesomely depicted as Steven's death was but whilst I cried at the deaths of Frobisher and his family and was deeply profoundly distressed at all the scenes of the army taking screaming and crying children away while their frantic screaming mothers looked on (truly astonishing work from some of the extras there) Stephen's death left me completely dry-eyed.

To me it was so clear from the second that Alice and Steven were introduced that they had purely been introduced for the purposes of killing one or both of them off by the end of the series. They served no purpose in the narrative other than to further torture Captain Jack. And I loathe it when writers introduce characters purely for the purposes of killing them off. To me that's a cheap and tawdry trick. It's emotional manipulation at its basest. I mean the kid was even wearing a bloody red jacket in his death scene - red shirt indeed.

I never connected with Alice and Steven at all. GDL and Katy Wix managed with precious little screentime to convince me that Rhiannon and Ianto did have a deep, if awkward relationship but there was just no connection between Alice and Jack. John Barrowman tried desperately in his first scene with Lucy to forge a similar connection but it just didn't work. I wasn't that impressed with the actress and there was just no chemistry with JB - no connection. I noted that they resorted to dressing her in a coat which superficially resembled Jack' coat in Day 5 to try and show some sort of visual connection but the whole thing just didn't work (and yes I know this is daft but I do also wish they had cast a child which had at least a passing resemblance to either Lucy Cohu or JB - had the child looked like either of them I think it would have been harder).

So Jack loses his grandson and daughter in one fell swoop. And it didn't matter that he had absolutely no choice in the matter (I stopped reading over people's reactions to this episode pretty quickly as so many seemed to feel that Jack was a total monster in Day 5. Were they watching the same show as me? He either used the only child in the building to start the construction wave and wipe out the 456 or doom 10% of the world's children to a fate worse than death. One child or millions. With those sort of numbers at stake Jack did the only thing he could do- he made the same decision he made in Small Worlds and he was clearly totally and utterly devastated while doing it - crying throughout. John Barrowman was amazing in that sequence and my heart just bled for Jack. It was pure torture porn that sequence. Monster? Please.)

They very rarely give out Baftas for shows like Children of Earth which is a shame as Peter Capaldi deserves every single award going. His was an astonishing and incredibly performance. He did so much with silences and pauses - never has someone said so much by standing still and not speaking. The sequence in the Prime Minister's offices when Green coldly tells Frobisher that his children will be taken was absolutely unbearable to watch. Frobisher's dawning horror as he realises what the Prime Minister is telling him, his frantic pleas that they're only girls, despair reducing him to incoherence with the Prime Minister sealing his fate by telling him he's very busy.

And his oh so British goodbye scene with Bridget conveying his thanks and appreciation for her and all her years of support with one single peck on the cheek her knowing that she will never ever see him again. I'm still somewhat in awe that they managed to so completely make me sympathise with this man even though so many of his actions were appalling.

I was however really rather annoyed that poor Lois Habiba spent virtually the entire episode in a prison cell - what a lousy, unsatisfying resolution for her character. Although I was delighted that when push came to shove Bridget's loyalty to Frobisher overcame her loyalty to Queen and Country and she was determined to fuck over the Prime Minister who had so callously thrown over "a good man". We'll ignore the fact that I have no idea who was actually recording the lens cam sequences given that Rhys was being saving kids up in Wales.

Johnson also came into her own in this episode with Lisa May Brice giving a very subtle performance - Johnson may not blink at instructing her men to seize Steven and lead him to his death locking out his distraught mother but doesn't mean she won't cry throughout. She'd be a great addition to any future cast.

I have major issues with the 456's motivations. They're shooting up on kids? Seriously? That's it? That's just... Well, silly beyond words. And if they have the capacity to transport millions of children at once then why the hell didn't they simply park their ships in orbit, beam up all the kids they wanted and then leave high as a kite? And what was the deal with Clem being able to sniff things? And why the hell kill Clem anyway? Jack couldn't have destroyed them if they hadn't been so stupid as to show everyone the exact frequency needed to kill them by using it to to kill Clem. I wish they'd shown us that Clem had the potential to hurt them and that's why they eliminated him - that just didn't come across in the narrative at all.

And apart from the cheap parlor trick of managing to make all the kids speak at once and releasing poison gas into one building that they were physically present in did the 456 actually do anything that showed that they were a credible enough threat to wipe out the species? The children speaking at once was similar to the blood magic trick in The Christmas Invasion and possibly just as harmless.

But then I guess that didn't matter. Because the 456 weren't the villains of Children of Earth. We were. When faced with a cheap ventriloquists act and a smoke shrouded cracked out rubber monster demanding children or else the British politicians instantly caved, coldly decided who was the most expendable and diligently organising plans for carrying the mass kidnapping of hundreds of thousand of children. The echoes of the Final Solution in their choices were not subtle and the sequences of the soldiers taking the children downright distressing.

With all this going on Team Torchwood seemed a little lost (my biggest complaint about this series) but what little they had to do was done well for the most part. Liked the humour and pathos of Gwen and Andy breaking the news of Ianto's death to his devastated sister with Johnny's main concern being the return of his car and Andy more focused on Ianto's sexuality than anything else. Because a tragic death doesn't stop people being practical or nosy. But oh Ianto sweetie. Lying about his father's job. Why did he do that? Because he felt pressured when in London surrounded by all these posh (to Ianto anyway) operatives at Torchwood one making sheep shagger jokes at him to fudge his father's background? And that once he'd told those lies there they became second nature to him so he just kept on lying. I believe that he told Jack the truth but he clearly hadn't told Gwen and the lock of hurt on her face when she realised that she didn't really know him was brilliantly played by Eve and just upsetting to watch.

Loved Johnny and the boys standing up to the army and Andy deciding that when it came to it saving those children was more important than his job, removing every trace of his uniform before getting stuck in with the rest (and in my world Johnny and Andy are bruised but perfectly fine - no deaths here please!)

Whilst Gwen's video about the Doctor was perfectly fine as a coming soon trailer clip it didn't work in the context of the episode at all. We certainly didn't need it twice for a start and making that video about the world ending when you're huddled in a building trying to be quiet and surrounded by 19 absolutely terrified children? Made no sense whatsoever. I was like "Do be quiet Gwen you drama queen". It also makes me angry as it does grave injustice to the character of the Doctor and makes it seem as if he would turn his back on the world and let the 456 take the children which is something he would never ever do. I get that Rusty wanted to answer the obvious question "Why doesn't Jack just contact the Doctor?" but it didn't work for me at all.

Although Eve and Kai's moment when Rhys asks Gwen whether she would really have an abortion made me cry - wonderful acting from both of them. And I was getting quite distressed at the scene of the soldiers chasing them down as they fled from the building - ripping David away from his screaming mother.

And after an emotionally exhausting episode how did it end? With Jack leaving with no plans to return. I liked that 6 months on Jack still wasn't even close to being over the events and the loss of Ianto, Steven and his daughter. None of what happened was his fault but he still clearly blames himself, blaming himself for liking becoming the hero too much. He clearly blames his own arrogance for Ianto's death which isn't fair. And even Gwen begging him to stay wasn't enough for him to change his mind about leaving. So without Ianto and having lost his family Jack reverts to the selfish, cowardly con man always on the move that he always believed himself to be (and never really was) and runs away from all his problems. The character has come full circle and I'm really not sure at all how I feel about that. Its feels like they've gone backwards in his character development.

Children of Earth was a stunningly good if unnecessarily bleak piece of drama but it just didn't feel like Torchwood when all was said and done. Day 1 was pure Torchwood but days 2-5 felt like an original drama series that the characters of Torchwood were shoe horned into. My friend said it would be quite interesting to watch the series and assess the different amounts of screen time people had - I bet Frobisher and Lois had more screentime than Jack. Jack felt very much at times like a cameo player in this and whilst I was engrossed in Lois and Frobisher's trials and tribulations there were times when I was looking at the clock and wondering quite when we'd get back to seeing Team Torchwood who are after all the characters that I love and the reason that I was watching in the first place.

And where the hell could they possibly go from here?

Torchwood is now in this very bizarre position of having earned unexpectedly stellar ratings (never in my wildest dreams had I thought it would get ratings anything like this) in a traditionally fallow period for television programming and yet creatively RTD has pretty much run the show into the ground. He hasn't just destroyed Torchwood - he's napalmed it to hell and back and salted and burned the remains.
Torchwood was Owen Harper, Toshiko Sato, Gwen Cooper, Ianto Jones and Captain Jack Harkness. With 3 of the 5 main cast gone, Gwen pregnant and Jack gone how could you possibly have another series in the same format? How can you bring Jack back from all the profound truly horrible tragic events that have befallen him and have him wandering around Cardiff in his swishy coat, cracking jokes and shooting aliens in the face? Are we really going to have Gwen juggling motherhood with fighting aliens? I had expected in that last sequence that we would get some hint at the Torchwood team re-building. Maybe have Lois in the car or Johnson? (I could see a team of Jack, Gwen, Lois, Johnson and the fierce Bridget Spears as Jack's new secretary) But there was nothing. No tiny glimmer of hope. Just darkness.

Personally I don't really want another series in the current format. Even if Jack returned and claimed he'd been travelling for hundreds of years and was over it all now Jack and Gwen and a bunch of newbies wasn't what made me fall in love with the show in the first place. A radically different approach, say Torchwood through the ages with Jack as the only constant with an episode set in Victorian Torchwood, the first or second world war, an episode showing us Lucia Moretti and her relationship with Jack, episode with Alex showing us that team and what lead him to shoot them on New Years Eve 1999, episode with the original cast leaving any of them (including Indira Varma) free to come back and an episode in the future? That would appeal to me.

But another series of Torchwood in the current format without the majority of the characters that I loved - holds zero appeal to me. And if this is the end of Torchwood well at least it went out with consummate style.

Date: 2009-07-12 05:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lawsontl.livejournal.com
So incredibly well put. I love your writing, I love your reading, and now your meta as well. Really, really wish we'd managed to meet at Torchsong.

Date: 2009-07-13 09:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fairyd123.livejournal.com
Thank you - that's very sweet of you. Shame we didn't meet at Torchsong but I'm sure we'll meet at some event in the future.

Date: 2009-07-12 05:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aresnz.livejournal.com
Very well written. I could never hate Capt Jack Harkness and am very upset how so many say he's responsible for what happened and he's a coward. I so disagree. Jack said himself he got comfortable being the hero, yet it was a title he well deserved. When speaking to Frobisher, he told Jack that he (Jack) is a better man than he is.

The writing was phenomenal and the acting..BRILLIANT. Aside from the obvious, Peter... John's acting was surely brought to the forefront and definitely showed us what he can do. Showing so much emotion..Jack being totally broken...etc. I feel COE deserves to clean up at the BAFTA's. Considering this was shown in July, the ratings were through the roof.

As for a series 4, I would watch. No matter what I support Torchwood. Now, to me, there is no Torchwood without Capt Jack. How they would bring the show back, I've got no clue. I like your ideas for showing Jack in the various stages of Torchwood. I'd go along with that.

I keep saying how much torture can one man take..i.e., Jack Harkenss.

Hopefully an announcement will be made at SDCC and TPTB won't keep us hanging as to what's going to happen; if there's going to be a series 4.

Lori

Date: 2009-07-13 09:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fairyd123.livejournal.com
People tend to react in a very knee jerk manner in the aftermath of an episode airing. I think Jack has always believed himself to be a coward deep down and that in times of emotional stress he falls back on that - he's a coward, he always has been so why shouldn't he run away? Of course he isn't that man and hasn't been for a long time but he still thinks he is.

The acting was brilliant and the writing was good - not sure I could stretch to phenomenal - there were far too many holes in the plot and some elements just didn't work.
CofE does deserve a showing at the BAFTAS but shows like this traditionally don't get nominated (and if it does get nominated I suspect Capaldi will overshadow the rest).

I might watch series 4 of Torchwood but we'll see - I mean its interesting that you say that there's no Torchwood without Jack - John was probably in less than 5 minutes of Day 2 and I suspect he probably had the least screentime of the three regulars. Children of Earth was in many ways fairly Jack lite. I'd have to see what sort of format series 4 took before I tuned in - I wouldn't watch as a matter of course.

I don't see an announcement about series 4 being made at SDCC - far too soon.

Date: 2009-07-13 11:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aresnz.livejournal.com
I understand there were holes in the story, I was just blown away by it in many ways. More emotional probably than anything.

My comment about Jack and Torchwood... I just feel that Capt Jack is the premise behind which Torchwood show came to be. I realize shows in the US like Law & Order have gone though numerous cast changes; but I feel Capt Jack really represents Torchwood. I don't want a Gwen show. Never gave it a thought how much time Jack was really in COE. That's interesting. :-)



Lori

Date: 2009-07-14 11:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fairyd123.livejournal.com
I wasn't blown away by CoE - drained would be a better description.

For Torchwood to continue it will have to feature John in some form but they proved with this episode that John doesn't necessarily have to heavily feature for the show to work. He essentially wasn't in Day 2 and didn't do a whole lot in days 3 and 4. His screentime was relatively minimal. They could easily continue the series having Captain Jack make little but cameos in some episodes.

Date: 2009-07-14 12:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aresnz.livejournal.com
Well, I was blown away with it which also left me emotionally drained.

You made good points about John. When I'm watching I don't really think about how much screen time he's got. As for Torchwood, I'd rather have cameo appearances from Capt Jack than none at all. I know John says he works his schedule around Torchwood, but his schedule so so very full I often wonder how much longer he can do that. If there's a series 4, John won't be free until at least February/March and Eve should be ready as well. It'll be interesting to see if we'll have a TW4 and of course the storylines.


Time will tell.

Lori

Date: 2009-07-12 05:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] amand-r.livejournal.com
This was lovely. Thanks!

Date: 2009-07-13 09:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fairyd123.livejournal.com
Many thanks - glad you liked it.

Date: 2009-07-12 05:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] academia4me.livejournal.com
I was thinking myself that a great way to continue would be 'Jack through the ages.' They could have one off specials/TV movies and/or short series (WW1 Jack - yes please). That would be cool, and respectful to what's happened in COE as well.

Date: 2009-07-13 09:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fairyd123.livejournal.com
Torchwood through the ages with Jack as the only constant would be a show I'd happily watch. Especially as if it was cast sufficiently strongly JB wouldn't have to be necessarily strongly featured (if he wanted time off).

Date: 2009-07-12 05:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lawsontl.livejournal.com
And to further your comments about Stephen, honestly, after they killed Ianto, I kept everything else at a distance. I was literally grieving and had put up a wall around myself so I could get through the last episode in the vague hope that it was a fakeout death, as so many have been in RTD's world. Alas, it was not to be.

Also, intercutting Ianto's death with Clem's took away 99% of the power of Clem's death for us, and Ianto's death lost something as well. We literally screamed at the computer for them to get back to the room with Jack and Ianto. Sure, as a creative, it is a goal to GET a reaction, but I'm not sure that's the one they were looking for.

At this point, I really don't know if I could support Torchwood in any form, though your suggestion is the one I'm closest to being able to grok. Because I DO engage with characters. Not usually as much as I did with Ianto, or Ianto/Jack, but I do. And it's been proven beyond a doubt to me that characters in RTD-developed shows are doomed to tragedy. Life doesn't always have to be happy, and sometimes I like a good cry as much if not more than a good laugh, but this level of consistent doom is not something I can work with.

Date: 2009-07-13 09:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fairyd123.livejournal.com
Day 4 tore me up. Day 5 inevitably wasn't going to be as emotionally draining but it still had its moments (Frobisher's death - the army taking the children). I'm afraid I was never hoping for a reset - the world of Children of Earth (apart from the aliens) was hyper real - not a world in which the likes of the Risen Mitten exists.

I'm not quite sure what the point of Clem was. OK so they worked out how to kill the 456 through him but his story was a miserable one - orphaned, sacrificed by his government, homeless, institutionalised and then killed by aliens. Geez - fun!

Constant doom and gloom is just wearing - it was the characters that loved and RTD has decimated virtually all of them.

Date: 2009-07-12 06:26 pm (UTC)
ext_41770: Daleks (Default)
From: [identity profile] electro-club.livejournal.com
You've said absolutely EVERYTHING. This is exactly how I feel about CoE, even though I'm still in the process of rewatching it after the initial shock, might help me draw conclusions or soothe the riot I've been in since episode 4. But this is pretty much it, you described my feelings and thoughts exactly on a eloquent way I never would.

Thank you.

Date: 2009-07-13 09:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fairyd123.livejournal.com
Thank you - glad you liked the review. Not too sure if CoE is something I could re-watch, but too depressing but would be interesting to watch it in a couple of months when its less fresh.

Date: 2009-07-12 07:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] euphrosyne2u.livejournal.com
And you know, JB said at Torchsong (and elsewhere) that "IF IT WERE UP TO HIM HE'D PLAY CAPTAIN JACK FOREVER"
which means to me (in hindsight of course) that it wasn't his decision to leave (or end the show) and what we just watched was the series finale.
I don't know at this point whether or not I could watch series 4...even if JB were in it, I have to ponder on that for a while more after I come to terms with my grief over what we have lost. I lost another fandom when a character (in that case an actor) walked away... I should NEVER have allowed myself to become invested in another show like that.
And oddly, I think Day 5 was the weakest episode of them all. It felt like 'we're tired of writing now so let's just end it' it glossed over all the human drama they tried to so carefully built throughout the week..just cut to the chase and unwound the intricate pattern of the earlier epsodes. Day 5 was not a character study at all but a completely inadequate finale whether series or season.
I'd love to see BAFTAs for the cast and Euros Lyn...but I hope RT(insert rude name)Davies doesnt win a thing...
do I look jaded to you???

Date: 2009-07-13 09:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fairyd123.livejournal.com
Oh Jack can come back for series 4 no problem. Jack leaving the earth is no bar to a further series.

I'd have to see what form series 4 would take - if it is just another series with Jack, Gwen and newbies I might idly watch for JB but I certainly wouldn't be fannish about it.

I think objectively Day 2 was possibly the weakest. Day 5 had plenty of moments which didn't work for me but also some amazing character moments.

Date: 2009-07-12 07:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jwaneeta.livejournal.com
This is an excellent, thoughtful review of a finale that made me disgusted, angry and apathetic. I so profoundly hate it when writers do this to shows and mythologies they no longer have a stake in. It's childish and ungenerous in a creator, and it's a trend I despise.

Put simply if I wanted to feel suicidal I'd just watch the news 24/7.

Yeah. I've watched everything but the end, because by the time Ianto died I knew this would be just another bleak, baleful, ugly decimation of a show I'd previously loved. This is happening far too often.

Children of Earth was a well written, beautifully acted and directed and utterly nihilistic piece of drama which decimated virtually everything we knew and loved about Torchwood and left it nigh on impossible for the show to continue in its present form.

*nods* I agree that the actors did great work and the technical aspects of the show were top notch, but the spirit of the thing was morally void and completely disrespectful to invested fans. I have to say I lost the spark of love when Tosh and Owen were killed off -- it was plain then what to expect from the show's direction. So I'm not in a lather like I would be if I'd still really loved the show and characters. But it's sad, and a creative waste, and weak writing, and just... ugly. I never thought I'd call Torchwood ugly. Sigh.

Date: 2009-07-13 10:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fairyd123.livejournal.com
Thank you for your kind words. I know it does feel a bit like RTD firebombed a show that he no longer had any investment in making it impossible for anyone else to pick up the pieces. I mean where the hell would they go from here?

It does feel as if they decided to invest in new fans at the expense of their existing fanbase.The whole exercise was just depressing and draining - difficult to say that I actually "enjoyed" it.

Date: 2009-07-12 07:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shayasar.livejournal.com
Amen!

Loved that red shirt comment! To pick just one tiny bit out of your great review :)

Date: 2009-07-13 10:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fairyd123.livejournal.com
Thanks - glad you enjoyed it.

Yes Stephen the red shirt - emotionally manipulative and awful.

COE

Date: 2009-07-12 09:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chicalem.livejournal.com
Thanks for this review and the insights you offer here. I'd been so caught up in the mini series that i hadn't taken a step back to do some of the wondering about the plot and whether it worked. I seem to share with you (if i've understood right) many of your views about the political meanings of the story and your views about the performances. i have had an amazingly emotional response to this story, a reaction which i can't easily explain or understand, but i did love this drama and would watch more torchwood in any form.

Again, many thanks to you for this analysis and your many other commentaries on Torchwood which i have very much enjoyed and appreciated

Re: COE

Date: 2009-07-13 10:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fairyd123.livejournal.com
Thank you so much for commenting - I'm pleased that you liked the review.

The plot if focused on doesn't really work at all and has gaping holes in it but I don't think RTD was bothered about the motivations of the aliens - it was all about the politics of fear.

Date: 2009-07-13 01:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alba17.livejournal.com
Great review. You made a lot of points I hadn't thought about. I felt there were a lot of plot holes around the 456 and while I was watching I couldn't understand what the threat really was. But the govt did everything they asked, mysteriously, and did nothing to try to fight back. It took Jack a few minutes to figure out how to break the signal to the kids, why couldn't they have done that in Day One? It was ridiculous. You are so right about Gwen's video - I couldn't believe she was doing that in front of all those kids they wanted to keep quiet, who were probably terrified. I definitely feel that they've undone all of Jack's character development from the first time he appeared in Dr. Who. It's upsetting and disappointing.

It seems the fans' TW ended with Exit Wounds. This wasn't our TW at all. I'd watch an S4 out of curiosity, but I feel very sad at the complete decimation of our show. And I hope Jack isn't just his usual self when he re-appears in Dr. Who, because that would be ridiculous.

Date: 2009-07-13 10:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fairyd123.livejournal.com
Thanks! The 456 weren't really shown to be much of a credible threat but then I don't think RTD ever intended them to be the villains. It was all about the politics of fear and how the government can use fear to do what the hell it wants (including an attempt to wipe out the proletariat) and control the populace.

Gwen's video was ridiculous - videoing that in front of scared children - just nonsense.

I'm not sure that they've necessarily undone Jack's character development. He isn't the same character that first appeared in Who but he thinks he is - Jack thinks he's the cowardly selfish person that he never actually was but believed himself to be before meeting the Doctor.

The filming reports of Jack's scene in Who sound interesting so I don't think they will have him be just the same old Jack - but it will be interesting to see where they go with it.

Date: 2009-07-14 01:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alba17.livejournal.com
No, he's not really the same as he was when he met the Doctor, but there are a lot of similarities. I haven't seen any of the filming reports re: Jack in DW - glad to hear he won't be the same old Jack - that would be ridiculous.

I thought the political stuff was fascinating and scary, although some of the talky scenes went on a bit too long.

A mirror of my thoughts

Date: 2009-07-13 04:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gaycrow.livejournal.com
I found your post after doing a Google search, and it's like you've looked into my brain and gathered up all the thoughts I had about "Children of Earth".

Put simply if I wanted to feel suicidal I'd just watch the news 24/7.

Exactly. Most of the time I watch TV, read books or go to the movies to escape the awful things that happen in the world. I leave the angsty stuff for others who don't mind being put through the wringer.

They very rarely give out Baftas for shows like Children of Earth which is a shame as Peter Capaldi deserves every single award going. His was an astonishing and incredibly performance.

Yes, he was the star performer.

I have major issues with the 456's motivations. They're shooting up on kids? Seriously? That's it? That's just... Well, silly beyond words.

I'm so glad you wrote that, because that's exactly what I thought, and not many people have mentioned it. I was stunned with that. It took the wind out of my sails, which was sort of good in a way, because I watched from then on without feeling much attachment. Up until then I'd been over-awed by the brilliance of the writing. It was all downhill for me from then on.

... making (Gwen's) video about the world ending when you're huddled in a building trying to be quiet and surrounded by 19 absolutely terrified children? Made no sense whatsoever

Absolutely!! I haven't seen anyone else bring that up, but it was one of the major "what the heck?" moments for me.

Children of Earth was a stunningly good if unnecessarily bleak piece of drama but it just didn't feel like Torchwood when all was said and done.

I read somewhere that RTD had this script in the back of his cupboard for years, took it out, dusted it off, and squeezed the Torchwood characters into it.

If it had been a stand alone series I wouldn't have been so devastated ... I wouldn't have had time to become emotionally attached to the characters. Upset, gut-punched, maybe, but not angry because the only reason I was watching was destroyed in the second to last installment. It could've been a wonderful piece of TV viewing, a showcase of all things British that I like so much. Instead, I've been left feeling a bit empty, and a lot angry that my favourite character died a useless, pointless death.

No more Torchwood for me - any future series without the majority of the characters that I loved - holds zero appeal to me, too.




Re: A mirror of my thoughts

Date: 2009-07-13 10:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fairyd123.livejournal.com
Thanks for commenting - glad you liked the review.

The 456's motivations were just silly, and apparently ripped off from The Quartermass Experiment which makes it even more disheartening.

Gwen's vid was a fabulous teaser for the show but ridiculous in the context of the episode. I mean honestly why the hell was she filming that and upsetting the children?

Well that would make perfect sense that it was an old script that he shoehorned Torchwood characters into - it very much felt like that.He very much showcased the likes of Frobisher and Lois at the expense of the original cast.

Date: 2009-07-13 07:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ssdimes.livejournal.com
Well said. I can't even think of anything to add; you've summed it up perfectly. I'm just emotionally drained at this point. None of that was what I expected at all.

Date: 2009-07-13 09:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fairyd123.livejournal.com
Thank you. I think the show not being quite what was expected has been a major issue for most fans. On the one hand I genuinely wasn't expecting this series to be as brilliantly constructed and as wonderfully acted and directed as it was (both Eve and John for example were a zillion times better in this than anything they had ever done in the previous 2 series) but I was expecting to see a series of Torchwood - and Children of Earth just wasn't Torchwood. Great if depressing piece of drama - but not Torchwood.

I'm a bit over it now but yes watching it was emotionally draining.

Date: 2009-07-13 10:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] welshactorlover.livejournal.com
Thank you for this well-thought out review.

The seeming re-writing of Ianto's family background had me puzzled until someone else pointed out he was an audience identification point for the lowest-achieving 10% of children, because he came from that sort of background himself and look how stellar he turned out - that 10% can still contain some gems.

Ianto lives on in my heart, somewhere around Cyberwoman and Countrycide - can't get enough of those fics!

Date: 2009-07-13 09:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fairyd123.livejournal.com
Glad you liked the review.

Must be honest I didn't think they did re-write Ianto's background. The brilliant student, supremely clever, fastidious, photographic memory having Ianto was very much a fanon creation. In Fragments we found out that Ianto was just an average student with a juvenile record for theft before he joined Torchwood 1. The utterly capable, calm butler who anticipates his bosses every need was a persona that Ianto created when he needed to keep Lisa safe. I could very easily see Ianto coming from that background (as indeed does Gareth). That little hint about his father's true job was just another fascinating hint at Ianto and how he ticks.I do believe that Jack knew the truth but Gwen clearly didn't.

Never could stand Countrycide but Ianto will live on merrily in fic for evermore!

Date: 2009-07-13 02:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] em615.livejournal.com
Bleak. Yes! I've been depressed all weekend. With all the build-up and hype, I just expected, I dunno, more? Something else? Something a little less doom and gloom. I just can't find myself getting behind another series if all I can expect is to lose more characters. Yeah, I know their jobs are dangerous, but I feel Ianto's death was really a waste. At least Tosh and Owen died saving the world. Ianto just...died.

Date: 2009-07-13 08:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fairyd123.livejournal.com
I think that's the problem. Whilst Children of Earth was objectively a great piece of TV it certainly wasn't quite what I was expecting after an 18 month wait. Day 1 was pure Torchwood but the rest of the days were more like an original drama with Torchwood characters shoehorned in occasionally.

I agree that it was just too depressing.

People die unnecessary deaths and Ianto's death was painfully, sadly realistic in that respect. If he'd died in a blaze of glory then you wouldn't have had the goodbye moment between Jack and Ianto. But yes Owen and Tosh's death had more meaning although their deaths weren't quite as emotional for me.

Date: 2009-07-13 06:25 pm (UTC)
ext_41651: Ianto shiny with mobile (Default)
From: [identity profile] fide-et-spe.livejournal.com
Great review and I agree with all your points. I laughed at the end as I had literally just put that in another comment, about how the next series should be as you say, I know JB is suggesting it, I would really love to see more of Gerald and Harriet, and the Victorians. Also as you say there is a story in the Alex New Year's eve thing. I think they could easily do two or three mini series, or even more over a couple of years. No reason why one couldn't have Ianto and Gwen, or, as you say, be set with the team pre Gwen, and with Suzie.

I think the story played out the way it did because it was directly lifted from the Quatermass story where the hero had to sacrifice his grandson in order to send the signal to stop the aliens getting the children and using them as drugs. (Yes this was so original..)

You are right though, we didn't get enough connection with the child for it to have the impact it should do. I did think Jack's giving up was in character, but then the typing to save the world thing was just crap and RTD's lazy ending style all over again. I think the children may as well have chanted "I do believe in fairies, I do I do." It was at that level.

Date: 2009-07-13 08:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fairyd123.livejournal.com
I'd seen everyone mentioning Quartermass but wasn't familiar with it. I hadn't realised that the story wasn't even original and that Rusty had ripped off the storyline. My god!

I just don't know how they could continue the series even if they bought in the likes of Johnson, Bridget and Lois. All 3 were brilliant in the series but Torchwood with Jack, Gwen, Bridget, Johnson and Lois with the occasional cameo by Alice? Not quite what I signed up for. I do think they would have to go for a radically different concept. Looking back at Torchsong when JB was talking about series 4 (after saying that he thought it could be the end) the things he was discussing suggested that they were looking at a radically different approach if they bring it back.

I didn't have any connection with Stephen at all. I mean I loathed the fact that they killed off a child for no real reason but yes the chanting technobabble explanation for killing of the 456 was awful.

Date: 2009-07-13 08:57 pm (UTC)
ext_41651: Ianto shiny with mobile (Default)
From: [identity profile] fide-et-spe.livejournal.com
Well I had read a couple of comments that it was directly lifted, and so checked it out, and the plot is exactly the same. Very cheeky that. It does kind of astonish me, I could never d something like that, if he felt like remaking it, why not do so? And say it was a remake, using Torchwood and updating or whatever. Mind you I suppose it's like in work life when you sit in a meeting and hear someone take credit for their great idea that you know isn't theirs at all. I have seen that many times in life. I just can't understand it.

Date: 2009-07-13 09:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fairyd123.livejournal.com
Well he has been rather deriative before (I know everyone will scream that he lifts from Whedon but I'm not a big believer in the concept that Whedon is the be all and end all of tv drama and RTD borrows from more than him - the ending of Doomsday for example being a lift from the end of Philip Pulman's Northern Lights trilogy.) but i guess he would just say that it was a "homage".

Date: 2009-07-23 12:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tvwriter23.livejournal.com
No one is saying that Whedon is the be all, but are just stating that he is lifting from him as well as others. RTD has done great series, but the whole doom and gloom gets annoying after a while. I think that's why I couldn't totally get into the new BSB. Yes the old BSB was cheesy, but fun at the same time. Franky I think a show like Blake's 7 proves that you can have the what others consider cheesy adventure and serious drama at the same time. Also he has th need to shock constantly as if he relies on it.

Date: 2009-07-23 09:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fairyd123.livejournal.com
RTD lifts from Whedon who lifted from others. Ain't nothing new under the sun.

If you mean BSG well the new version was a post 9/11 allegory of politics and terrorism so the tone of the piece was clear from the beginning. It was never meant to be cheesy and fun and was definitely one of the best series to air in a long, long while.

I think the issue with Torchwood is that they took such a steep departure when it came to tone - they went from a show with flying dinosaurs and death chasing Owen in cloud form to killing off cute blonde kids.

Date: 2009-07-14 09:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] welshactorlover.livejournal.com
We're a bit behind the times down here, and the final of Battlestar Galactica has just screened. I found a reprint of an LA Times review in one of our locak TV guides and found this part of particular interest.

"Moore and his team should win not only an Emmy but a special Medal of Honour for Not Copping Out on the finale.

Grand finales are a dangerous business; flouting convention may be crucial to a show's success, but it turns out to be a matter of discipline. Every writer wants the show to go out with a bang; the trick is to have it not destroy everything in the room."

I've always felt that Highlander was an excellent example of a TV series that wound up its story in a satisfactory manner (let's not delve into the horrible subsequent movies). Highlander brought closure but hope for the future at the same time because the core cast was still standing.

Date: 2009-07-14 11:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fairyd123.livejournal.com
The Battlestar Galactica finale isn't a good comparison as fans were for the most part completely furious about how that ended with its nonsensical plot twists and uncomfortable "lets take this land from these noble savages" theme.

Nor have I watched Highlander.

I guess whether RTD has made it impossible for Torchwood to continue depends on your view point. There seem to be 2 main camps - the fans who got a very different show from what they expected and who watched most of what they loved about the show be decimated in front of their eyes who couldn't conceive it continuing in the current format and those who could care less about the Jack/Ianto relationship (there's been quite a lot of casual homophobia being slung about in commets of various entries that I've seen), will merilly watch the show if it features Jack and is moderately sci-fi and would happily watch a show with the Children of Earth supporting cast.

It seems ironic that it is the fans who waited for a painful 18 months for the show to air again who for the most part now don't want it to continue in any form.

Date: 2009-07-23 12:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tvwriter23.livejournal.com
Well not really when you think about it. Frankly I think the reasons that Primeval was canned was 1. The show went so much away from the tone and feeling of the series. I personally think this is what lead Douglass Henshall to really leave the show. 2. Douglas Henshall left the show so did Lucy Brown and Juliet Aubrey totally taking the point of the series away and secondly because people loved those character. When people wait for a new series/season etc. they want the characters/stories/tone of the series they got before. Now we know things are going to develop and change, but this season was so un torchwood like it's not even funny. And for whoever said that Jack acted out of character with his grandson was right. He gave up so fast when usually he would have looked for other solutions. The ending definitely felt rushed.

I also think RTD was going for the shocking people at the end leaving fans pissed off for years like Blake's 7 did with it's ending. People still talk about that show especially because of the way it ended.

Date: 2009-07-23 09:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fairyd123.livejournal.com
Primeval is not a show that ever interested me so I'm not especially familiar with its cancellation except for the reason given which is that ITV are no longer doing original pre-watershed programming (with the exception of the soaps, The Bill etc) due to budgetary constraints so the show had to go. It had the ratings for another series.

I don't actually think Jack did act out of character in relation to his grandson. We'd already seen him sacrifice Jasmine to the Fairies to save the world in Small Worlds despite the screaming protests of her mother. I think killing the child off was unnecessary but in the circumstances Jack had no time to come up with an alternate solution - all the children were at the drop off points waiting to be collected by the 456. It was either sacrifice Steven or let them all die. We've always seen that Jack can be ruthless when he wants to be.

It seems fairly clear from interviews given since the show aired that RTD thought he was writing Torchwood's last hurrah and wasn't expecting the viewing figures it got. So now he has to continue the story...

Date: 2009-07-24 10:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tvwriter23.livejournal.com
He doen't necessarily have to do another series. He can if he wants to, but Blake's 7 has 9mill viewers at the end of the last season and it didn't come back.

Date: 2009-07-29 02:40 pm (UTC)
ext_64975: (Default)
From: [identity profile] majblomma.livejournal.com
Wow! What an amazing review! *bows*
You've managed to put words onto my own feelings.

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