Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Torchwood: Fragments

The Singing Stone Horizon Guide to Touchwood
written without any permission (or consent) by anyone who would sue me
by Ewen Campion Clarke

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... all or nothing? More or less. I killed you ruthlessly, only the best! I BLEW YOU UP! I TURNED YOU ON! I BLEW YOU UP! I TURNED YOU ON! I BLEW YOU UP! I TURNED YOU ON! I BLEW YOU UP! I TURNED YOU ON! You don’t understand, you see? You’re not supposed to fancy me!"

Episode 12: Blast from the Past

With Gwen certifiably insane, there is a vacancy at Touchwood and Captain Jack can finally legally join under the prestigious title of "Human Shield For More Important People". As per Touchwood regulations as handed down for over a hundred years, this requires an annual staff picnic at an abandoned building where the group can harmonize and bound in a non-working environment.
Jack decides to introduce himself properly to the people who already know him well and quietly despise him in public. Back in 1869, the Doctor unwittingly abandoned Jack in Victorian Cardiff, a backward age of hypocrisy, prostitution and relaxed drug laws. Quite simply, Jack was in heaven, except Victorian society had no place for Jack’s exuberant sex life outside the Vatican and Scout huts, and it didn’t take long before Jack was regularly being lynched, stabbed and slaughtered by puritans and angry barmen. But each time, Jack would pop back to life and this eventually gained the interest of Alice Guppy and Emily Mudskipper, two psychotic lesbians working for the newly-established Touchwood Institute. The evil dykes kidnap Jack and kill him repeatedly in kinky sex games involving electricity, yet Jack would never know if they wanted him for his indestructible body or because he was a link to Touchwood’s greatest threat, the Doctor!
Finally the nutty ladies grow bored of sadistically torturing Jack and offer him a job as general dogsbody and whipping boy or else they will continue to kill him forever. Jack thinks long and hard about whether or not to compromise his principles... and says yes, based on the advice of a five-year-old girl pretending to be a fortune teller at the strip club Jack regularly frequents.
Over a hundred years later, Jack is shamed and ridiculed after he got his team slaughtered in a simple mission to capture Santa Claus. Luckily, a massive Cyberman-Dustbin war breaks out and Touchwood Tower is utterly destroyed along with most of Cardiff, leaving Jack the sole survivor. He decides to rebuild Touchwood in his own image, a bunch of drunken nymphomaniacs who curiously happen to have the same names as the poor suckers he got killed earlier.
The first person he can find with a matching name is Toshiko Sato, an MOD scientist and part-time regular on Absolutely Fabulous, who is attempting to build a copy of the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver which could be the ultimate weapon... or the ultimate sex toy. However, a rogue band of Touchwood survivors seek this vibrating machine for their own perverted ends and threaten to kill Tosh’s mother unless she hands over the prototype. Luckily, the good men from UNIT turn up and lock Tosh in Guantanamo Bay for the rest of her life. Using sexual favors and some mind-wiping drugs, Jack breaks out Tosh, on the condition she works for him at Touchwood.
Next is Ianto Jones, a mild-mannered Starbucks employee who by night is a kick-ass Weevil-wrestling dinosaur hunter. Jack pesters Ianto for a week, offering him a job with Touchwood, even so far as diving in front of Ianto’s bitching SUV to get his attention. Ianto is rather disturbed that repeatedly running over Jack isn’t enough to kill him. Ianto finally decides to complete his last mission of sedating a rogue pterodactyl and then agrees to join Touchwood on the condition that no one know what a cool guy he is. Dressing up as a tuxedo, Ianto assumes his former disguise of anal Starbucks employee.
The three-strong team search out the remaining namesakes, with Tosh and Ianto strongly suspecting that Jack is a total loony to be choosing a team based entirely on their names. They soon locate Owen Harper, a sweet, affable young man with chronic dysentery seemingly caused by a brain tumor. Jack suspects that this tumor could be an alien parasite and is proved right when the surgeons trying to remove it all die horribly from the toxic tumor. Amazingly enough, Owen survived having half his brain removed, transformed into a zombie – and a totally asshole of a zombie as well. Since he takes an immediate dislike to the Touchwood team, he agrees to join on the grounds he can make the rest of their lives a misery.
Unfortunately, the only Gwen Cooper in Cardiff is a newbie policewoman with concussion. Jack decides she’ll do and, after a few weeks of working at Touchwood, Gwen finally realizes where she is. She leads the rest of the gang in a coup, deciding that Jack is the biggest threat to mankind and throwing him out. Jack wanders the city, regularly making prank calls to his former team, until one day he spots the TARDIS and the rest of "Dystopia" happens.
Ianto, Owen and Tosh yawn and note that they knew all this already. In fact, they strongly start to suspect that they should have left Jack off the team and hired PC Andy instead. Suddenly, the building they are in explodes – but since two of the gang are immortal, only Tosh is really hurt, with a compound fracture in her arm, while Ianto gets a wicked scar down his cheek that makes him look like one bad mutha.
No sooner have the team recovered from this than a huge hologram of Spike the ex-vampire appears over Cardiff, laughing insanely – but that’s not nearly as terrifying for the team as when they discover that Gwen has arrived with a first aide box and wants everyone to be the bestest of best friends again...

Trivia Questions
1. Apart from joining Touchwood, what does Jack consider his greatest achievement? 2. Is Gwen based on that chick in "Twin Peaks"?

Great Moments - It’s one long orgy of retconning the first season, and also the first time that Touchwood is brave enough to reveal to the unsuspecting public that it’s actually in any way linked to Doctor Who. All the previous references, even Martha, were all sold to the public as "a really freaky coincidence" but now Touchwood is out and proud after only twenty-five episodes and three years.
The Sarah Jane Misadventures did that before their first episode was finished, and have proved wildly popular ever since.
The moral of the story is that it is better to be out and proud that hide in the closet – not that you’d expect that sort of tolerant attitude from a show like Touchwood.

Fashion Crimes -
Tosh’s outfit is actually MORE frumpy than the Victorian lesbians of death with their stupid hats and floor-length skirts.

Missing Adventures -
Not any more, this pretty much fills all the gaps. Though Jack does imply that, in the purposes of male-bonding, he and the Ninth Doctor went back to the age of the Dinosaurs so they could watch Adric die in a horrible thermonuclear explosion (an experience the Doctor only allows to his most trusted of companions, so Jack is held in the same high esteem as Arthur the Horse, C’Rizz and Dodo Chaplet).

Technobabble - "Touchwood has equipment that’ll make your hair curl... that’s a metaphor, though. We don’t actually have any curling tongs or anything like that. Something about rift energy exposure causes long term contrafibulizatrizumerization on the roots."

Great Lines - Tosh: Who are you?
Jack: Nobody – I don’t exist. And for a man with my charisma, that’s quite an achievement.
Tosh: You’re a wanker.
Jack: Do I look like a wanker?
Tosh: Yes. Duh.

Ianto: Look, any conversation between us, no matter what the subject is over, finished, done…forever! I’m getting back behind the wheel of that car, and if you’re still standing in the road, I’m gonna drive through you.
Jack: So you’re NOT going to let me help you catch this pterodactyl then?
Ianto: [flooring the accelerator] A clue: no!

Jack: Ladies! Fancy a feel? I see you’re not wearing any underwear, so should we get a room? Somewhere with linen? That’s it, baby, sit on my face! Doesn’t matter if I suffocate, but it might make the electrodes to the nipples slightly less satisfying – indeed, this is the start of a good night, I can tell. Now, put that down before someone gets hur---ARGHHH!

Crap Lines –
Harriet: You said, "When I find the Doctor, first I’m going to kiss him... and then I’m going to kill him!" How thrilling.
Jack: What? Two men kissing?
Harriet: No, two men killing! DEATH IS THE ULTIMATE APHRODISIAC!
Jack: ...I think I’m gonna like it working here.

Jack: What’s your name?
Ianto: Jones. Ianto Jones.
Jack: Nice to meet you Jones Ianto Jones.
Ianto: Hah bleeding hah. Not heard that one before.

Owen, a second before being caught in the explosion:
"Buttabim, buttaboom!"

Spike: Ooh, déjà vu! Or did I say that already? OK, here’s what’s gonna happen: everything you love - everything you treasure - will die. I’m going to tear your world apart, "Captain Jack Sparrow", piece by piece, starting now. Maybe now you’ll get that I’m NOT interested in you?

Plot Oversights
- Why do the lesbians torture random people instead of researching xenotech? Didn’t Queen Victoria notice that only two employees she was sending to Cardiff were sex-obsessed psychopaths? Was she somehow involved in those kinky sex games without Mr. Brown to take her mind off things?
- The Welsh word for "fanwank" can be seen graffitied on the walls of the ruined building. Some kind of repeating meme like K9, or just subtle commentary on the content of the episode?
- How many life choices does Jack make based entirely on the word of under-five tarot card readers? You think after as long as he’d lived, he’d have noticed how stupid their advice can get?
- Tosh’s laptop seems to have a ridiculously low screen resolution.
- Considering how UNIT treat the Bastard, Tosh gets very rough treatment. Does the 21st Century UNIT just really, really, REALLY hate Absolutely Fabulous? What would they do to Joanna Lumbley?! And what in the name of hell is going on that UNIT "owe Jack a favor"? Did he tell them he was a double agent planning to destroy Touchwood from within? Only took him a 138 years to do!
- UNIT charge the terrorist cell – the terrorists who, remember, are using a sonic screwdriver to vibrate people’s blood vessels into rupturing – and neglect to wear some sort of ear plug to stop their heads exploding. No wonder there’s such a high turnover.
- Ianto draws a beard, glasses and moustache on the jar containing the Doctor’s severed arm. Why?
- Gwen’s IQ is horribly inconsistent.

Viewers’ Quotes

"They totally stole this episode’s music from Z’ha’dum!"
- Tragic Babylon 5 Fan (2008)

"You know, if this had been the first episode, not only would the first season of Touchwood have been less shit, but we might not have cancelled the series before Moffat took over."
- BBC Wales Management (2009)

"There’s times when it’s easy to forget what an amazing actress they have playing Toshiko Sato. Like now. Who played Tosh? Seriously, it’s a pub quiz and if we answer this one right we get a meat tray! Come on, you stupid sci-fi geek, be useful for once in your misbegotten life and we can eat like kings!"
- Dave Restal’s Dad (2008)

"We should have got Touchwood 1982 with DCI Gene Hunt!"
- Someone VERY Disappointed With "Ashes to Ashes" (2009)

"HAAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Asian chicks in detention centres! HAHAH!"
- Mad Larry the Pirate King (2008)

"I didn’t watch this one. So it can’t have been any good."
- Sparacus "Flamingo" Jones (2008)

The Author Speaks
"Touchwood... putting the wanking into fanwank."

Trivia Answers
1. He once got a man with no mouth to give him a blow job. 2. No idea. Could be, I guess...
Rumors and Facts -
Originally the twelfth episode of this season was to be a complete rip off of the Beatles’ animated mindblower, Yellow Submarine, and much effort was put into creating a floating CGI yellow submarine – which was still used in the finished episode to justify the expense, even though the script had been completely rewritten. Thus it can be seen:

- floating behind Harriet and Emily during the rape scenes
- being ridden by a humanoid blowfish
- getting thrown out of the pub where the little tarot girl works
- around Tosh’s head while in the UNIT cell
- chasing the pterodactyl above Cardiff
- one of the numerous vehicles to run over Jack’s head after he is ram-raided to death by Ianto
- inside Owen’s brain tumor
- above the ruins of the building in the final scene

The rest of the script was jotted down by Chris Chibnall when he realized he could come up with a much better first episode than the upteenth-Ruse-rewrite RTD kept trotting out time after sodding time, firmly establishing that all of Season One never happened. Unfortunately, this episode got the least viewers of the whole season with 2.4 million people deciding to waste 45 minutes of their life to watch it. Indeed, this was so low Touchwood’s declining ratings were decided to be in the "take the mutha out the back and put it out of its misery" category.

Touchwood was taken off air and the next two weeks had a test card shown in that time slot instead. Ratings improved immediately so when they finally screened the final episode, a staggering 2.7 million people were watching. They promptly deemed it crap and waited impatiently for the new series of Doctor Who to start.

Ruminations -
I once nearly drowned. True story, this. One minute I was having a swim just off the coast of England, the next I was swallowing what felt like gallons of water. My life flashed before my eyes – but instead of the usual flashbacks of my first steps, school and my first kiss, my TV-obsessed brain remembered all the hours WASTED watching near-death-experience and origin episodes of my favorite shows.
And on that day, I vowed to make more of my life.
It didn’t last long.

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