Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Torchwood: Captain Jack Harkness

The Singing Stone Horizon Guide to Touchwood
written without any permission (or consent) by anyone who would sue me
by Ewen Campion Clarke nicking stuff wholesale from Jared’s Den of Inadequacy blogspot but no one must ever know

DISCLAIMER: This is an unauthorized program guide to the stupendously awful Doctor Who cash-in Angel-rip-off. Neither the guide nor the series is to be taken seriously. Or orally. And if rash occurs – and it probably will – consult the Doctor immediately.

"TOUCHWOOD... also known as the Forge. And the Porlock Foundation. And the Glasshouse. And Geocomtex. And HC Clements. And Klein & Utterson. And ICIS. And the Special Executive. And the Foreign Hazard Duty. And Excalibur. And Department C19. But mainly just Touchwood."

Episode 12: Captain Jack Sparrow

Tosh lures Jack to an abandoned dance hall, claiming to have heard 1940s dance music. Jack heads there expecting to find a breach in time and not realizing Tosh is planning to murder him in cold blood for killing her girlfriend some five episodes previously. Inside the music hall, they find themselves back in time, in 1941, at a dance for service personnel and easy Welsh tarts.

There they meet Captain Jack Sparrow, the man whose identity Touchwood’s Captain Jack stole after his death, which will occur the following morning. Jack reveals to his shame and disgust that his real name is Jack Harkness, but he’s a rabid Johnny Depp fan and stealing the identity of a genuine Jack Sparrow was too good an opportunity to pass up. Tosh finds this deeply, DEEPLY pathetic and considers letting him live is crueler than ending his misery.

Back at Touchwood, the now completely insane Owen thinks the best way to rescue Jack and Tosh is to open the dimensional rift that runs through Cardiff, but Ianto thinks it is too dangerous to tamper with the primal caldron of time and space on the off chance it might help them rescue two jerks they don’t really like. Owen ignores Ianto because, hey, that’s what Ianto’s for, but when Ianto asks exactly HOW Owen actually intends to open the rift, that shuts the Weevil-Shagger up for a second.

Idly, Owen ransacks Jack’s office and finds a lump of coral on Jack’s desk with a post it note explaining it is actually part of the Doctor’s TARDIS and Jack has been trying to grow his own space-time machine by watering it and feeding it anabolic steroids. By plugging random cords and wires into this lump of coral, the completely-unhinged Owen now believes he has the mathematical ability to open the time fissure with absolutely no comebacks of any kind whatsoever.

Meanwhile, Gwen is for once jammed entirely into a subplot as she investigates the dance hall shouting stupidly for Jack and Tosh and ignoring the sinister Gary Sparrow, the caretaker of the dancehall in present-day Cardiff, who just happens to be the same man as the dancehall manager in 1941, uses the same office, and regularly seems to vanish in and out of time and space.

Back in 1941, the real Captain Jack Sparrow reveals he is attracted to Jack Harkness, and the two share a brief awkward moment holding hands which of course was hardcore gay porn back in the day. They then idly chat about the curious event of three men called Sparrow turning up in the same music hall on the same day. They then discuss the ridiculous preponderance of surnames like "Jones" before sharing a passionate kiss and then having wild naked sex on the middle of the dance floor, to the astonishment of all the other dance hall guests.

Owen prepares his evil time manipulation device and Ianto points out it is highly unlikely to work and even if it DID would most likely trigger the absolute destruction of life on Earth. Owen is now seemingly off his face on morphine and screams that he is second in command, he is in charge, and all of reality will now bow to HIS convenience...!

Ianto shoots Owen through the head and heads off for a slash. Unfortunately, this spilling of blood triggers the rift manipulator and time and space are violently buggered into submission, causing a temporal paradox that immediately brings Owen back to life. Amazingly enough, this ALSO creates a shimmery magical portal on the dance floor, and Jack Harkness and Tosh leg it to return to the present day. Left alone, heartbroken and with the loss of all his respect and command, the real Jack Sparrow stumbles out into the night... where he is immediately stabbed to death by an ex-Time Agent who then nicks his wallet before beginning his latest con job.

Meanwhile, in 2008, Gary Sparrow laughs like a madman and screams that his incredible master plan is finally seeing fruition! The End of Days is at hand! Ignoring him completely, Jack turns to Tosh and tell her that if she ever reveals the truth about his name to the others, he will crush her delicate Japanese neck.

Trivia Questions
1. What is the proper procedure for growing a new TARDIS from a lump of ceramic snapped off the control room set?
2. And how does Owen do it?

Great Moments -
Like Ianto shooting Owen through the head! It’s a brilliant moment, spoiled only by the fact Owen continues not to die. This guy is more indestructible than the central character!

Fashion Crimes -
Gary Sparrow’s pathetic attempt to pretend to be a dwarf by kneeling on a pair of brogues.

Missing Adventures -
Tosh graffitis "K9 WAS HERE", "TOUCHWOOD ROCKS!", "PREACHERS RULE" and "VOTE B’STARD!" on various parts of the music hall, while Owen finds the Plot Device and Tosh’s bowie knife on Jack’s desk.

Technobabble -
The two Jacks "reverse the polarity of the homophobia flow".

Great Lines -

Jack: I went to war when I was a boy. I was with my best friend. We got caught crossing the border over enemy lines by the worst possible creatures you could imagine... They tortured him, not me, because he was weaker. They made me watch him die. And they let me go.
Other Jack: ...really?
Jack: Nah, I’m just trying to sound butch. Kiss me, you fool!

Tosh: Where’s the SUV? Has it been stolen by cannibals? AGAIN?
Jack: No. We have.
Tosh: We’re not cannibals!
Jack: No, I mean, we’ve been stolen!
Tosh: ...well, why didn’t you say so?

Jack: I was only dancing.
George: I think it was your fist in his ass he didn’t like, not your foxtrot!

Tosh: The rift’s opening! Jack, we need to get out... Jack, you have to. We need you.
Jack: Duty calls!
Tosh: Not you! The Captain Jack who ISN’T a total cunt! That’s who we need, not you, you mouth-breathing camp scum!

Crap Lines -

Tosh: This period... You look like you fit in, Jack. Apart from the whole "ineptly-hitting-on-aggressive-heteros-and-getting-yourself-punched-out-thing". But you HAVE been wearing a 1940s period dress uniform ever since I met you.
Jack: Nice to see you started paying attention, Toshiko.
Tosh: [sotto] Oh, I am going to enjoy gutting you, fly boy.

Owen: Piss off, Ianto, you’re just the teaboy.
Ianto: I’m much more than that, you prick. Jack needs me to run the coffee machine!
Owen: In your dreams Ianto, in your sad wet dreams when you’re his part time shag!
Ianto: What are you? 15? Grow the fuck up!

Jack: I know too much.
Tosh: Then share.
Jack: You wouldn’t want that. Trust me. The season finale hasn’t even been DRAFTED yet, we’ve got be as vague as possible to fit in the next episode’s plot.
Tosh: God I hate you.

Plot Oversights
- The low battery warning on Tosh’s laptop that not only covers the entire screen, but had a battery-draining voice prompt. How retarded is her laptop? Why doesn’t it have a power cord? As it’s so utterly useless, they might as well leave it behind!
- The photo Gary Sparrow takes of the two Jacks and Tosh in a three-way is manifestly NOT the same photo Owen is found jacking off over later
- Does Tosh really think shouting, "JACK YOU OVERSEXED FUCKTARD, WE’RE SUPPOSED TO BE BLENDING IN YOU FUCKING PERVERT!" would actually help them blend in?
- Does no one else see the lift cast from the rift except Tosh and Jack? Everyone is remarkably still and no one seems to ask any questions. Are they just in shock from the gay sex they watched? Or is the Welsh auto-delete memory function kicking in overtime?
- Speaking of forgetfulness, for someone who has lived through the ENTIRE 20th Century... TWICE... how come Captain Jack is so ignorant of homophobia, racism and discrimination? Was he just really drunk and stoned through the world wars?
- The writer seems to believe that two men having anal sex in a dance hall in 1941 would occasion nothing more than a few raised eyebrows and sniggers. In reality, they would have been subjected to ridicule, quite likely beaten up, and possibly even arrested. In 1941, the real Captain Jack would probably have felt killed himself in shame had the earlier Jack Harkness not stabbed him to death. So either "our Jack" was bonking "Real Jack" because he KNEW "Real Jack" was doomed, or else he did it because he didn’t care about all the subsequent shame and ridicule, and quite possibly being responsible for "Real Jack's" death (or "assisted suicide") the next day. Given the fact Touchwood Jack is such a complete jerk, it seems obvious which it is...
- Ianto manages to punch in Owen’s head faster than Gwen can
- In the time it has taken Owen to get back to the Hub, create a Rift Manipulator, have 5000 arguments with Ianto, open the rift, and get shot, Gwen has managed to open her car and get in.

Viewers’ Quotes

"The falling apart of Touchwood into a bloody fight between Ianto and Owen is clearly meant to be a shocking moment showing us that the organization is at its lowest ebb, hence building tension for the oncoming climax. Unfortunately, something very similar to this happens every frigging week on the show, so it loses absolutely all meaning."
- Ewen Campion-Clarke (2006)

"That was perfect. And I mean absolutely perfect. It would appear that Touchwood really has found its groove in the second half of the season and this is the best expression of what the show can do yet. It is this standard that season two needs to aspire to. Hardcore gay sex with no hint of plot. Beautiful. Just... beautiful."
- Sparacus "Flamingo" Jones (2006)

"OH MY GOD! Jack’s reversed the polarity of the homophobia flow! For the next five minutes homosexuality is no longer even against the law! Enjoy his spirited rendition of the French tonsil hockey grand finale with another man in front of everybody! We should retcon history more often. Is Jack now going to get on a jetpack and ferry all the Jews to England one by one?"
- Jared "No Nickname" Hansen (2008)

"A near-flawless piece of television. There just happened to be a ridiculous amount of flaws in it. Otherwise, it’s perfect!"
- Jo Ford Prefect (2006)

The Author Speaks -
"It’s amazing. 50 minutes of drama and not one person ever lets me off the hook with dramatic license. I mean, fine, accept time travel, rift manipulation, interesting things happening in Cardiff, but I have just ONE American fighter pilot claim to get a few kills in the Battle of Britain when, historically, the only American there didn’t kill anyone and suddenly I’m Mister Fucking Imbecile. Mark my words, they’ll forget any criticisms when they see my brilliant and spectacular season finale. We’ll see who’s the crap writer then, WON’T WE?!??"

Trivia Answers
1. Shatter it, fry it in olive oil, modify the dimensional stabilizer to a fold back harmonic of 36.3, which accelerates the growth of the outer plasmic shell to completion in 59 minutes, then allow to cool for 46 years in a dry place near Lime Grove studios.
2. He plugs two AA batteries in it and wires it to a lightning globe.

Rumors and Facts -
A story involving Captain Jack travelling back in time and having full-frontal sexual intercourse with his past self, having a Captain Jack Three-Way was a notion repeatedly suggested to the Touchwood writers by random members of the public, including small children. Head Writer Chris Chin-Balls absolutely refused to take up this suggestions on the grounds that he was God and needed no mortal advice.

Unfortunately, with another two full episodes required to finish the season and with genuinely no other ideas of any kind at all whatsoever, Chin-Balls decided to swallow his gargantuan pride, nearly choked and with the supply of oxygen cut off to his excuse for a brain, scratched out the script in a delirious fever before passing out. What he produced was a typical Touchwood script with one of the regulars having torrid sex with someone they only just met before that someone dies horribly, while the rest of the cast try to kill/rape each other. The only real difference was the COMPLETELY pointless crossover with "Goodnight, Sweetheart" and the bizarre idea that Gary Sparrow is some kind of evil mastermind manipulating all events when all he actually does is take a photo of two airmen nobbing each other.

Captain Jack Sparrow was directed by Apan Way, who was already well-known to the production team, having worked in that capacity on the Vortext preludes for the 2006 Doctor Who season, as well as the playing the titular monster in Attack Of The Grinch. In addition, Way had previously ruined episodes of Belonging and Casualty.

Ruminations -
The first part of a two-episode season finale, the penultimate dose of the first Touchwood series initially suggests that it won’t be complete and deeply-flawed crap. If Gary Sparrow wants them to open the rift, why does he do absolutely fuck all to make them? It’s as water-tight as a leaking WW2 sub... much like this series as a whole.

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