Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Torchwood: Random Shoes

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, separate from the United Nations, think iPods are rubbish, cancelled the milk and fighting for the future on behalf of the human race. But don’t expect us to give a pair of fetid dingo kidneys about YOUR problems. Who do you think we are? The fucking A-Team? Mmm. Mr T. I bet he’s good in the sack. He can pity my fool any time. Hmm. What?"

Episode 9: Invisible Restal

A young man named Dave Restal wakes up to find that he appears to be ethereal, his body lies dead on the ground after a hit-and-run accident, but his memory of how he got there is missing. He recognizes the Touchwood team as they are brought in to investigate the accident; the team had several run-ins with Dave before but had written him off as a wanker. Dave’s cell phone goes off, and Gwen answers it, and explains to the caller, Dave’s friend Andrew, that his drinking buddy is dead. Knowing that Touchwood are unlikely to find out what really happened, Andrew investigates the matter further.

Pretty much the rest of the episode is presented as a mix of flashbacks to Dave’s along with Andrew’s investigation in the present, with Dave following him around as memories come back to him.

After flunking the HSC and moving out of his parents’ house, Dave teamed up with Andrew and an egomaniacal loser called Nigel Verkoff. Trying to cheer themselves up, the trio went on a European tour of wackiness but this somehow left them marooned in Cardiff. Nigel got a job in a DVD store while Andrew found himself having to single-handedly defeat an alien invasion disguised as a weight loss clinic, a reincarnating monster than implanted computer chips in its victims’ brains and generally saved the world because Touchwood was far too busy shagging and shooting each other.

After seeing Touchwood turn up and ruin the day, Gwen piqued Dave’s interest and tried to approach the gang with an eye-like object, claiming it to have fallen from the sky when really it’s a gum ball he bought from a supermarket vending machine. For a laugh, Dave try to sell the eye object on eBay in order raise enough money to buy tickets back to Australia for himself and his friends. Initially, there were no bids, but the bids started to rise up to a few hundred pounds. A surprise bid of £15,000.00 bid was made near the end of the auction, and Dave began to wonder if the gum ball really WAS an alien eye and the owner was trying to reclaim it. Whoever the mysterious bidder is, they are beat by someone else who makes the final highest bid of £15,005.50. Dave was, to put it lightly, gobsmacked.

Dave contacted the buyers and arranged to meet at the Little Chef, a restaurant near where he later died. Arriving there, he found that the actual final bidder was Nigel, despite the fact he is completely penniless. The large bids came from Richard Briers a collector of alien crap, Nazi memorabilia and pet rocks. Nigel was the final bidder, so he can get the alien eye and then sell it to Richard Briers. As recompense, he allows Dave to buy him a chocolate milkshake.

Realizing he has been set up, Dave responded by calmly beating the shit out of Nigel and smashing his head through a window, before snatching the gum ball, shoving it into his mouth and fleeing from the restaurant. Unfortunately, Dave starts to choke on the gum ball, and unwittingly walked right into traffic, causing the hit-and-run accident that killed him. Andrew is able to follow Dave’s life by checking Dave’s self-pitying blog and asking Nigel who broke his nose.

In the present, Jack learns about this and comes to the strange conclusion that the so-called gum ball was in fact a Dogon Sixth Eye, which, if ingested, allows that person to gain a fresh perspective on their past life. Thus, they decide to raid the funeral and steal it.

Dave’s puny collection of friends and family gather for his cremation, as do Touchwood who demand the gumball be reclaimed from the ashes at gunpoint. But as Dave’s grieving father sings "Mistadobalina", Dave’s ghost suddenly becomes corporeal and realizes that even HE can do better than obsessing about an insane tart like Gwen Cooper.

To everyone’s amazement he reveals he has been given a new lease on life. Everyone in the church sings a cover of Split Endz’ "History Never Repeats" before Touchwood chase after Dave, thinking he’s a zombie. A Benny Hill chase scene begins, and the trio finally escape on a red tandem bicycle built for the aborted "Goodies 2000" BBC Wales production.

Trivia Questions
1. Which Doctor Who crossover does Captain Jack retell, boring everyone stupid as they try to listen to the eulogy by Dave’s sister Callisto?
2. How many times does Dave slam Nigel’s head into the dining table?

Great Moments -
Nigel’s DVD shop manages to break not only the fourth wall but every other one as welk. Not only is he watching Doctor Who Confidential at the start of the episode, he also watches DVD of Touchwood and at one point replays Love & Pizzas and notes to Andrew, "Am I the only one who thinks this episode is being ripped off something rotten?"

Fashion Crimes -
This week, Touchwood seems to have its own T-festooned handbags.

Missing Adventures -
Dave hasn’t been so humiliated by Nigel since the events of "The Centre Cannot Hold" which drove them both to suicide.

Technobabble -
Dave threatens to "overload Nigel’s nasal cavity matrix superdrive".

Great Lines -

Dave: Calm down. Stay calm. This is Touchwood. It’s gonna be ok... Who am I kidding? WHO THE FUCK AM I KIDDING? I AM COMPLETELY SCREWED!

Nigel: From now on my passport will say I am "endearingly rich."

Andrew: My friend is dead! What the hell are you doing about it!
Jack: We’ll look into it. Trust us. We’re Touchood.
(Andrew stares at him.)
Andrew: Oh, God, Touchwood!
Jack: The very same.
Andrew: You’re those retards who make Operation Delta look like M16!!

Dave: You... cheated me... out of fifteen THOUSAND pounds.
Nigel: If you want to be completely legalistic about it.
Dave: You... BASTARD!
Nigel: Try to look at it this way, David. The average life is full of near misses and absolute hits. Of great love and small disasters. It’s made up of banana milkshakes, loft insulation and random shoes. It’s dead ordinary and truly, yet truly amazing. What you’ve got to realize is, it’s all here and now! So breathe deep and swallow it whole. Because take it from me – life just whizzes by and then all of a sudden, it’s –--
(Dave punches him in the face and starts to beat him up.)

Dave: By rights I should be well pissed off. My mate had cheated on me and I didn’t get to meet any aliens. But I realized that when I swallowed the eye at the Little Chef, I was given a chance, to look back on my life and see it for what it really was. A complete and utter waste of time.

Crap Lines -


Plot Oversights
- In the first broadcast, the BBC3 digital onscreen graphic was accidentally replaced with the V for Vendetta one for the opening six minutes.
- If Dave’s ghost can’t cast a refection in the mirror, how does he cast a shadow? If he has no physical presence when his hand passes through Gwen, how can he slash the tires of Nigel’s car Wynona? How is Dave able to make Gwen’s hair move with his non-existent breath? How can Dave get wet after wandering into the girls’ shower room?
- Why was Dave’s brother and sister so blasé about his death? Is there some kind of inheritance involved here? Has Dave faked his death before to get attention since he’s the middle child?
- Jack saying "I’d do him, I’d do him, I’d her, him, her, her, him, her and... tch, who HASN’T done him?" wasn’t in synch with the video.
- Nigel has managed to change his hair from very dark green to a strawberry blonde in the last couple of weeks... what the hell kind of hair products is he using?!
- Who delivered Dave’s body to the apartment? Why is this standard postage £3.50 for 1st class? Recorded delivery surely!
- Why does Nigel pretend not to know Dave when it’s ANDREW who’s asking the question? They’ve lived with each other for months? Why the hell does Nigel think Andrew will fall for it? Has Nigel developed Welsh-based amnesia?
- Why would Dave’s monitor go directly to the screensaver immediately after ejecting a DVD? Is it easily bored?
- Jack says that A for Andromeda DVDs are in demand – by whom? Humans or aliens?
- How retro is Nigel’s video store when it has a large collection of Friends episodes? On VHS? And is Nigel’s rant that the police (or Touchwood in this case) should be in the habit of using public funds to pay off overdue video tabs?
- What in the name of god is Gwen thinking attempting autopsies on living people? Is she trying to impress Owen? Has she developed an insane lust for vivisection?

Viewers’ Quotes

"They chose THIS over Ben Chatham?! What... the... FUCK?!?!"
- Sparacus "Falmingo" Jones (2006)

"What’s even better is that people are acting like HUMAN BEINGS again! I had forgotten how much I liked my own species! The last scene of the show is a little confusing story-wise as our heroes jump on a bike and ride off into the sunset... but it provides Touchwood with its most uplifting and life affirming ending so I don't give a shit!"
- Jared "No Nickname" Hansen (2006)

"This unusual filler episode which should have been so forgettable turns out to be so important to the show.. This episode hardly features any of the regular cast, doesn't feature any aliens or action set pieces... all the core ingredients of the show and yet it proves to be such a success because of these omissions. Because Touchwood is, and forgive me if I’m being excessively technical on this point, complete and utter shit. Whoopidedo."
- extract from RTD’s expose The Welshman’s Tale (2008)

- Dave Restal (post resurrection)

The Author Speaks -
"I’m not particularly proud of working with Touchwood. In fact, it’s arguable one of the few things I’m actually ashamed of. I never thought there could be a television show WORSE than Night & Day. When the baby was born a hermaphrodite, I went certifiably mad for three days. And that was after watching it for six months. Touchwood managed the same effect on me by the end of its first scene. It is AWFUL! AWFUL, I SAY! What do I say? AWFUL! THAT’S RIGHT! AWFUL! Mind you, the cast were pretty cool. The night I met them... well, I found the will to live on. That night I met them I found the joy of sex. That night I met them I found an uneaten packet of cinnamon doughnuts."

Trivia Answers
1. The Santa Tip.
2. Twenty-three times.

Rumors and Facts -
The writing was on the wall, and it said "FUCK YOU, TOUCHWOOD" in large friendly letters. Quite simply, Chris Chin-Balls had run out of scripts to use in his series. Worse, due to a counting error, all the main cast were only paid for twelve episodes and not thirteen. Thus, he needed a script right away that did not use the regulars in ANY way!

Luckily, Chin-Balls bumped into Nigel Verkoff who was at BBCWales that day demanding his incredibly unpopular Doctor Who companion Adam Mitchell get his own spin off like Rose Tyler, Sarah Jane Smith, K9 and Captain Jack. Verkoff agreed to help Touchwood in return for basing a whole episode around him – however, like all the other writers for this year, realized that Touchwood could ruin his career permanently. Thus, rather than offering them an adaptation of Sympathy for the Devil, one of his Big Finish audio plays, he simply stole a transcript of Love & Pizzas off LiveJournal and filmed it dead cheap with his flatmates. Various outtakes and stock footage was cunningly used to suggest the main cast were somehow involved in this, though there were a few dodgy bits like Tosh being tortured by Joanna Lumbley and Owen’s dialogue referring to Touchwood as "bleak house".

The week after Invisible Restal (originally titled The Tangent Dudes) aired, on December 12th, 2006, it was announced that Touchwood had been renewed for a second season to air in the autumn of 2007. And thus, Verkoff was directly to blame. He and his flatmates fled the country before BBC2 executives could hunt them down and kill them for bring Touchwood out of the digital arena of BBC3 and into their terrestrial environs.

Verkoff has since gone to ground and is unavailable to comment.

Invisible Restal is the innovative, groundbreaking story that someone else did first. It’s like me inventing scissors - it would be impressive, if they didn’t already exist.
There’s a metaphor in there just struggling to get out.

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