Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Torchwood: Out of Time

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... outside the government, beyond the police, fighting for the future on behalf of the human race. You see, the twenty-first century is when it all changes, when history is made, and when everyone realizes they’re actually bisexual. And Touchwood is ready... HAH! That sounded TOTALLY convincing, didn’t it? HAHAHAHAH!"

Episode 10: Out of Ideas

Jack, Gwen and Owen are loitering around an airfield when a vintage aircraft lands, piloted by Amelia Earhart with her two groupies Ellie Kelly and Michael Ellis. Jack reveals to the passengers with all the subtlety of Mark Gatiss that they have not landed in 1937 but actually arrived at Christmas 2007. Amelia is very annoyed, but not really surprised and shakes her fist at the sky and swears at that "cocky Time Lord bastard" for dropping her off seventy years late.

The three refugees in time are taken by the Touchwood Institute to have their wicked way with. Since Ellie’s parents are long dead, that makes her incredibly vulnerable as the reality of the situation sinks in and Gwen begins to bond and become dangerously obsessed with. Gwen invites Ellie to her flat, and forced her boyfriend Rhys to sleep on the sofa. Naked. In handcuffs. Gwen claims that Ellie is her cousin, but the insane woman is already starting to confuse fact and fiction as explains how sexual morality has changed since 1937. Finally Ellie finds the shrine of toenail clippings, human hair and used underwear Gwen has built to worship her, and flees the country. This leaves her with Rhys, who she unties just to complain about how rotten a Christmas this is turning out to be.

Jack meanwhile begins courting Michael, who is deeply disturbed at the omnisexual manwhore’s suggestions of new identities and backgrounds to use as role-play as they start a new sex life. Jack tries to get him drunk and seduce him. Michael ultimately snaps and locks himself into the SUV and tries to kill himself with carbon monoxide fumes. Jack stops him, pleading with Michael to give homosexuality a chance, that he can still start a family via IVF, make fag hag friends and get a job working with small children. Michael replies that he did all that years ago, when he was meant to. Upset at the rejection, Jack starts the engine and mocks Michael as he passes out from the gas and expires, while Mister Immortality sits beside him complaining how rotten a Christmas this is turning out to be.

Owen is left with Amelia who tries to shatter her composure by telling her about the strange new world she now lives in and cruelly reminding her that her pilot license has long expired. But Amelia has suffered at the hands of sadistic time travelers before, beats Owen unconscious and date-rapes him. No one, not even Gwen, has matched Owen’s disgusting standards of amoral self-hate before, and the two fall instantly in love. Owen tells Amelia that he is experiencing feelings about her that do not fit with his character profile, which is his way of asking Amelia to marry him. Amelia responds by immediately heading back to the air field, into her plane and up into the Cardiff dimensional rift. It could leave her absolutely anywhere, but she still prefers possible oblivion over spending Christmas with Owen, who whines how rotten a Christmas this is turning out to be.

On Christmas Day Jack, Gwen and Owen think back on how the three have touched their lives, and watch the Queen’s speech as she tries to explain how a giant Christmas star nuked half of London the previous night, before blaming Ken Livingstone and changing the subject as how rotten a Christmas this is turning out to be.

Trivia Questions
1. Why is there up to twenty minutes of stock footage of Doctor Who used in this episode?
2. Which award-losing B-Movie featuring Amelia Earhart does Amelia refer to in this episode?

Great Moments -
Well. Um... it ends?

Fashion Crimes -
Does Amelia Earhart have to wear those flying goggles and a silk scarf to do EVERYTHING?! Bonking Owen is what I’m referring to in particular.

Missing Adventures -
Ianto and Tosh apparently have much better things to do during this story, cleaning up the aftermath of the Doctor Who story The Drunken Ginger Bride, but secretly they are plotting the horrible and permanent death of Captain Jack.

Technobabble -
Ellie and Gwen’s chances of a relationship fail completely due to "Groove Armada Style" particles.

Great Lines -

Jack: We can’t help this time. There’s no puzzle to solve, no enemy to fight. Just three lost people who’ve somehow become our responsibility. What kind of crap el cheapo episode is this?! I want Weevil Genocide, GOD DAMN IT!

Ellie: So, how many men have you... done IT with?
Gwen: A few... thousand.

Owen: We could go back to mine. Read up about yourself on the ‘net. That sounds like a line. It’s not a line. I’m not chatting you up. Not because I don’t think you’re attractive, because you are, because I wouldn’t want you to think I was taking advantage of...
Amelia: Got any condoms?

Gwen: It’s like two separate worlds. There’s Touchwood, and then there’s real life. With flying police boxes, robot Santas, giant spiders at Stongehenge. And I always choose Touchwood for some reason. I must be out of my fucking mind.

Owen: I don’t know if I can do this any more. This isn’t how it works for me. I’ve slept with enough women, I’ve done the fuck buddy thing, and this is not it. I can’t concentrate. All I see is you. All I can think about is what you’re wearing, what you’re thinking, what your face looks like when you come. It’s been, what, a week? And it’s like when I’m not with you, I’m out of focus. I’m becoming a sympathetic and interesting audience identification figure... HOW HAVE YOU DONE THIS TO ME?! I’m scared. I’m fucking scared.
Amelia: Oh, get over it you freak!

Crap Lines -

Ellie: So, if I meet a boy and... we get on and... he wants sex then... YOU think I... should let him.
Gwen: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm-mm-hmm. No. No. N-O. No. I think if you and me get on and I want sex then you should let me, OK?
Ellie: ...is that the door behind you?

Jack: Check out this magazines, they’ll help you relax.
Michael: Good God!
Jack: Welcome to the wonderful world of scantily dressed celebrities.
Michael: Is that you? What are you doing with those children?!
Jack: Well, I was a children’s TV presenter. Until that nasty business with the Doberman and the toothbrush, which between you and me the media have COMPLETELY blown out of proportion... [beat] Let us talk of nicer things.

Ellie: She’s gone next door, so Uncle Finn can telephone. She’ll know we’re missing by now.
Gwen: Ellie, she found out in 1937. Seventy years have passed.
Ellie: Oh yeah. Sorry, my bad. But what will she think happened? It must have been like one of those murders where they never find the body. Life sucks!
Gwen: Yes. Come and sit on my lap, little girl. Bouncy-bouncy.

Amelia: What’s a fuck buddy?
Owen: It’s a friend that you have casual sex with.
Amelia: There’s nothing casual about what we just did. Sex shouldn’t be devalued. Both parties should give it 100% concentration. Because when you take off together, it’s the next best thing to flying...
Owen: Yeah. Whatever. Less teeth next time, luv.

Plot Oversights
- Why the hell were Torchwood at the airfield? What indication did they have that the plane came through the transcendental portal? How did they know the plane would land there? Don’t they have anything better to do with their rancid excuses for lives?
- Why is there a Spring Sale at Christmastime? Why is there a full moon on December 25? Why are there leaves on trees? How come Amelia can run around but naked on a rooftop without getting frostbite? Anyone would think this wasn’t filmed at Christmas AT ALL!
- Gwen barely threw up on Ellie’s shoes when she called her a lush. Would Ellie even have known the meaning of "lush" anyway?
- Why bring the three travelers to a hostel/hotel and not let them sleep at Torchwood, at least for the first night? Jack would have got a much better chance of shagging Michael that way.
- How does Owen guess Diane’s dress size so perfectly? How is Owen such a fantastic mathematician that he can total Amelia’s vital statistics so quickly? Does he have a badge for mathematical excellence? Surely we hate the guy enough already, we don’t need him turned into an Adric wannabe!
- Why is Michael only asked to put out his pipe three hours after he’s smoke enough tobacco to flood the pub full of smoke? Why doesn’t Amelia get told off about smoking in the restaurant? Since there was a nine month smoking ban in force in December 2007, this just gets more and more ridiculous the more I think about it...
- How does Ellie get such a fabulous job so quickly? Does Ellie even have any references or work history? The fashion industry is usually much more thorough when hiring people to be buyers – whilst knowledge of the returning fashions of the 50s (quite a coincidence) would doubtless be handy, she would surely be asked about the other recent fashions of 2007 and where she expected 2008 to take them. Where does she get the money for all the new clothes? Is Touchwood’s sugar daddy budget to them really that generous? Or is Ellie just lying to distract Gwen as she escapes the insanity of Cardiff?
- Owen goes from holding Diane’s hand in one camera angle to the two of them not touching at all in the next camera angle after they had sex for the first time. Worse, during the last sex scene, Diane has only one patch of sweat carefully placed on her arm and no where else – nor does Owen appear in any way sweaty. What virgins are producing this?!
- There’s a cameraman in the car with Jack and Michael – how did he survive the carbon monoxide poisoning?! How the hell does the SVU fill with fumes anyway? Doesn’t Touchwood use catalytic converters or ATMOS? Did Jack just deliberately sabotage the SUV so he can get high off the fumes since he can’t die from them?

Viewers’ Quotes

"Argh! Highly embarrassed because the episode was so damned sad I cried. Afterwards I had to shove a soldering iron into my testicles to re-assure myself of my manliness."
- Jared "No Nickname" Hansen (2006)

"No aliens, no tangible danger for the Touchwood team, just a trio of lost souls who end up in the present, over half a century from their own time of 1937. What a very hum-drum waste of fifty minutes of my incredibly valuable time! In a nutshell, this was a shite episode of Touchwood. In fact, it was as unsophisticated, immature and unaffecting piece of television drama as I have seen on British TV in recent years; no small claim, I can tell ya! The Office comes a close second."
- Ewen Campion-Clarke (2007)

"Well, at least they’ve started ripping off The Twilight Zone instead of Angel and Buffy..."
- Roger "Manic Optimist" Roberts (2007)

The Author Speaks -
"People often ask me, since the old bloke topped himself, and Ellie was most likely to end her life unable to cope with the freedoms of the moral world, did Amelia get back to 1937 in a zillion-to-one chance? Uh, no she didn’t. Duh. Amelia Earhart is only famous because she vanished mysteriously without trace, isn’t she? So, yeah, Amelia vanishes through the rift, but what happens next... well, who can tell?
It’s open to interpretation. And pretty much everyone on the message boards has interpreted it as another suicide. Because you’re a cheery lot, aren’t you?"

Trivia Answers
1. They had absolutely nothing else to show once the scenes of Jack molesting the corpse of Michael was edited out.
2. "Dr. Who Versus Mandrake In The Herbs and Spices of TIME!"

Rumors and Facts -
The production of Touchwood so far had been a litany of unmitigated disasters, but things were about to get even worse. By the tenth episode of the series, Chris Chin-Balls discovered to his horror that they had completely run out of useable scripts for the rest of the season. In desperation, Chin-Balls turned to the Over-Commission Pile of episodes ONLY to be used in a hypothetical second season of Touchwood or abandoned altogether. Since the second season of Touchwood was very much NOT hypothetical, Chin-Balls was certain this emergency was grave enough to warrant flatly contradicting the edicts of RTD who was still having a vacation aboard his luxury yacht, the Moxx of Baloon, just off the South of France.

The first script, the Touchwood Christmas Special, was by a neophyte by the name of Paul Daniel McCulloch-Tomalin, a medical oddity of a script-writing newborn baby that Paul Abbot had used for cheap laughs on Shameless, the Bench and Casualty. The episode was recorded in tandom with Assignment Seven: Fairie Folk... of DEATH! so exactly WHY Ianto and Tosh were completely absent from this episode without even a gratuitous sex scene is a complete mystery. Rumor has it that director Patrick Troughton thought "it was all getting rather silly, wasn’t it?"

In honor of the creative burnout occurring behind the scenes, the script "Amelia Earhart Does Cardiff" was changed to "Out of Ideas".

Ruminations -
Out of Ideas is by far the dullest episode of Touchwood to date, telling the story of three of the team trying to score with refugees from 1937. It’s lifeless and out and out tedious when compared to other, more high-profile installments around it. Even the one where the Cyber-Woman arm wrestles a dinosaur was at least able to keep my attention (if only to scream, "SWITCH IT OFF! SWITCH IT OFFFF!!", mind you I often scream that during sex scenes with Owen). It’s also mightily depressing. Where’s the human spirit? The adaptability? The world of 2007 surely isn’t THAT BAD that you’d want to top yourself when faced with living there, even if you were used to good old powdered egg Britain of 1937. What’s wrong with these writers?!

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