Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Oh. My. God.

Do you hear that? It's the sound of my jaw hitting the floor. I've just been to the Manchester screening of Torchwood (which was held at the Odeon Printworks, fact fans!) and I honestly can't believe what I've just seen.

Torchwood is possibly the best show ever - and that's NOT an understatement. Lets start at the beginning...

Ok, so my report will feature some minor spoilers - but I'll reframe from including any major, show-changing, mind warping spoilers. If you want to read them, I'm afraid this report isn't for you. After all, it's not for me to ruin Torchwood, is it?

The opening five minutes are literally a revelation. They belong to Gwen Cooper, and the rather tragic "John Tucker". From the word go, it's clear that this show is different to Doctor Who in every possible way; it's dark and scary, and definately not for kids. It's also the most heartbreaking thing you'll see for a while, as team Torchwood resurrect a dead man - and then let him die again. Of course, we see this through an outsiders point of view, as Gwen sneaks a peak at what's going on - a theme continued throughout this episode: Gwen Cooper, following Torchwood around - learning to accept what they do, and how they do it.

We're witness to Gwen's personal life, as we meet her Mickey-esque boyfriend, who's so gullable that if there was an award for gullablity, he'd win it out right. In effect, we fall in love with him straight away. Gwen's life contrasts everything we've ever seen in the Whoniverse, as she's an established, settled individual. Unlike Rose Tyler, she doesn't need change in her life - which makes Torchwood's eventual presence ever more shocking. There's a possibility of Gwen losing everything that she currently has in future episodes, as she draws deeper into Torchwood - and sets herself up for a fall.

I doubt it's much of a shock, but this episode is incredibly funny. After all, it is a Russell T Davies script, and fans of his dramas "The Second Coming" and "Queer as Folk" will recognise his unique sense of black humour. One example would probably be the funniest kiss ever confined to screen (and one that will have Russell's "gay agenda" haters fuming!). Russell uses the moment to not only suggest that homosexuality is perfectly normal, but to also make us laugh. And boy, will you laugh at this episode!

Honestly, the chemistry onscreen between all the links is perfect. Of particular note is Burn Gorman - who's perfect as Owen. His character is so unbelievably cool, but also rather geeky, that your heart breaks when, in a bar, his offer of sex is turned down by a woman. It means that he has to resort to desperate measures - and you'll never look at a spray in the same way ever again!

I went away from this screening completely in love with not only Owen, but every single other character as well. Gwen is interesting enough to warrant her heavy amount of screen time, and her emotional journey is one hundred percent believeable. Likewise, for Indira Varma's "Suzie" too. Her character travels a very real emotional journey in "Everything Changes". This is her story as much as Gwen's.

If I have one complaint about the regular cast it's this: we don't see enough of either Sato or Ianto in this episode - but going off what we see at the end of the episode, in the form of a minute long preview of upcoming episodes - this will be a problem some solved. Have patience folks! You'll get your Ianto fix soon...

The man himself, Captain Jack Harkness returns in style. From his opening wise crack about chemicals in the air, to his (SPOILER!) drugging of Gwen, it's clear that Jack hasn't changed. Only, in reality, he has. Months ago, we teased you about Jack's secret - and it's a plot element that lingers in the background throughout. Jack is a changed man due to his travels with the Doctor (who is referenced!). He's darker, and more brooding - but lucky for us, just as sexy and flirtaous. By the end of episode one, he's flirted with Suzie, Gwen, Ianto, and a passer by on the street. Captain Jack's back - and we love him, don't we?

Like Boomtown before it, Torchwood suceeds in making Cardiff look beautiful on screen. The city is stunning, and I absolutely believe that other film makers out there will want to film in the city after seeing this. Go Cardiff - and go Wales! The Welsh accent has never appeared so prominately onscreen, and by god, it's stunning. I for one went away from the screening with a greater appreciation for this very understated accent.

The sets are equally stunning, and in particular, the Hub. The place looks magnificent on camera - and never once feels like a set. It's a real place - one that's been lived in, and has a rich history, like Torchwood should have after being around for almost 150 years...

It's so, so hard to talk about the episode's end. I honestly don't want to spoil the secret we learn... Needless to say, it's a marvellous one that changes the life of some Torchwood members forever - but that's all I'm saying. You want spoilers, but I'm not telling! What would be the fun in that.

With the secret out of the bag; the series can move forth, and as Gwen eventually signs up for Torchwood, it's clear that other revelations are coming in future episodes. The credits roll, and I know for a fact that I'll be around for the ride - because it's going to be fantastic.

My friends all agree. On average, they all gave it 9/10 - with the girls being particularly generous. If one thing's for sure, it's that women are going to love Torchwood. My girlfriend (normally a non-biased, non-Doctor Who fan) loved the episode and begged me to tape the series for her, because she hasn't got BBC 3, and can't be bothered waiting 4 days until the BBC 2 repeat. So, pencil her in as a Torchwood fan!

Looking back, why I think her and others loved the episode so much is because of this; Torchwood isn't Doctor Who. Although there's a few Who related references (the Chamelion circuit anybody?) this is a series in it's own right, and deserves to be treated as such. Torchwood is not Doctor Who - and it's all the better for it.

In conclusion, I'll leave you with this little thought; as the credits rolled, I can guarentee that 905 of the audience wanted to start clapping, but were afraid to do so. As we all left the screening, not one person had a bad word to say about the episode that they'd just seen (except me - as I spotted a continuity error!). The cinema staff waved us all off; and gosh - I've never seen 200 or so people with smiles that big on their faces before. Each and every one of them loved the episode, and I'd bet that they're now hooked.

Just like the rest of you will be come Sunday...

A little update now that my excitements calmed down a little. Here's a comment I made in the comments section regarding the episode: "I loved it! Absolutely fantastic. The swearing never once felt forced, and the acting was top notch. The cgi effects were (strangely) better than New Whos - less obvious and in your face. I loved the humour, and everyone in the cinema burst into laughter at least once a minute. John Barrowman was ace, and so were the rest of the cast, and in short I ABSOLUTELY LOVED THE SHOW. Kurly, our hard work these past 12 months was definately worth it - and I honestly can't wait for others to see the pilot episodes this weekend. Sorry if I'm a littled reserved at the moment - but I don't want to get over excited and reveal major plot twists. But, oh my god. Incredible. 52 minutes and 9 seconds of pure bliss. Roll on the next 12!"
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