Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Torchwood: Reset

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... and apparently they’re desperate enough to employ Captain Jack Sparrow. So I should be able to fit right in. On the bright side they were indirectly responsible for casting that slut Rose Tyler into another dimension. Gotta give them props for that. Pity about what happened to Esme, though, but I’m sure lightning won’t strike twice. I hope."

Episode 5: Rehab

After six months or so living back in Cardiff with her rubbish family, Martha realizes that the Doctor probably ISN’T going to come crawling back to her and begging for her salty goodness. Thus, she decides to try and stalk him out, but that’s a bloody difficult thing to do with a man with itchy feet in all dimensions. Thus, she decides to loiter around Cardiff’s premiere-league weird shit hot spot until he turns up. She thus applies to the Touchwood Institute for work experience.

Captain Jack Sparrow vouches for Martha Jones absolutely as an "impeccable field agent" with countless useful skills – but when she turns up, he smacks himself on the forehead and reveals he’d gotten her mixed up with SAMANTHA Jones, a completely different lovelorn ex-companion who may or may not ever have existed.

Nevertheless, Martha sets out to impress the Touchwood Team as they deal with a spate of random murders, and even brings her own white coat. It rapidly becomes clear, however, she is taking the matter far more seriously than any of the "professionals" – Gwen is so gormless she keeps forgetting what UNIT is, Owen spends all his time trying to set fire to paper cups with a singularity scalpel, Tosh simply spends her time lusting after Owen, and it’s three days working with the team before she even NOTICES Ianto is present. And it turns out her pal the omnisexual immortal with the severe personality order isn’t even in CHARGE of this band of emotional cripples! It quickly becomes apparent that this so-called elite band of alien-monster-fighting specialists are a worthless band of losers who have as much right to meddle with alien artifacts and defend humanity as Ren and Stimpy have to be put in charge of infant heart surgery – they haven’t even noticed the murder victims died from having bleach injected into their eyeballs!

New Alpha Female Martha Jones decides to take charge of the utterly pathetic Welsh Crusaders and soon discovers that all the victims have been cured of seemingly incurable nastiness by the medical centre called Weyland-Yutani, an English/Japanese company which takes pride in corporate profiteering, biological weaponry and illegal hootch.

Team Touchwood immediately decide to chalk this down as coincidence and go on with their highly-destructive personal lives, but Martha insists on interviewing the sole survivor of the strange attacks and five seconds after Owen examines her, she suffers a seizure and dies, a hideous creature bursting out of her chest. Bravely cowering in the corner behind Martha, Owen realizes the creature has dropped dead before it could kill them all.

Jack and others think these gore-soaked deaths a very good reason for them to keep the hell out of this business, but Martha calls them a bunch of useless jerks and learns that WU is recruiting human trial subjects through newspaper adverts in the Cardiff Chronicle. Jack refuses to send one of his own in, which is convenient as none of them had any desire to do so, so it looks like Martha the medic will have to do it alone and undercover.

Under the guise of Samantha Jones, a hepatitis sufferer with a fascinating array of social diseases, Martha infiltrates the WY Rehab Clinic in Albion Hospital. It turns out the chest busters are an awkward side effect of the Rehab process which involves releasing alien facehuggers onto people and orally raping them with demon spawn. On the bright side, this eliminates any diseases the host may have but on the downside it also cause them to die horribly when the larvae hatch and break free to continue their life cycle.

Martha congratulates herself on this brilliant bit of deduction, which only needed her to be captured and undergo the very nasty and graphic process herself when the evil Professor Copelli catches her snooping and decides to kill her off. Luckily, Martha’s exposure to the time vortex over a whole season of Doctor Who means her blood cells have mutated... Basically, she can save herself from chest-busting by sticking her fingers down her throat and vomiting up the embryo. Copelli is so disgusted by this display he needs a lie down, and by the time he’s recovered Martha has got the rest of Team Torchwood into the complex, shut it down and napalmed all the alien eggs and the hideous alien queen that was providing them all.

As the gang prepare to leave, Copelli announces that the proper authorities are no longer prepared to put up with the jerks of Touchwood and they’ve burnt their bridges with the world’s governments. To prove his point he pulls out a gun and tries to shoot Martha, who cunningly uses Owen as a human shield and then shoots Copelli in the head with her own gun.

With the mass slaughter of an alien hive, the destruction of all of Touchwood’s international credibility and Owen finally pronounced dead, Martha declares her first mission one hundred per cent successful.

No one disagrees.

Trivia Questions
1. Which of the few Touchwood novels is THIS episode ripping off? 2. What random objects have the Touchwood logo branded on this week?
Great Moments - When Jack finally opens up about his past and reveals his whirlwind romance with Christopher Isherwood in 1930. He claims that the famous Berlin Diary quotation "I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking" was one of Chris’ better chat-up lines, though "It’s not the getting in, it’s the getting out" worked most times as well.

Fashion Crimes
Martha is stripped naked to be hung over a pit of alien eggs. I always assumed the scuttly things were called "Face Huggers" for a reason, but this sort of implies they’ll take any orifice offered...

Missing Adventures
One of Ianto’s page 3 pin ups is of the former mayor of Cardiff, Paris Hilton. Jack made a bit of extra money buy selling his story "Alan B’Stard SM PM Sex Scandal" to The Western Mail. SEP fields don’t work on xenomorphs. Martha unconvincingly claims to have a boyfriend.
OK, these aren’t missing adventures as such, but it’s clear the writers never bothered to watch the relevant Doctor Who episodes, so it counts.

Technobabble - "The artron energy in her blood stream is canceling out the Great (Riddley) Scott factor in the parasite’s symbiosis!"

Great Lines - Martha: Gwen, these attacks aren’t just random, they’re clinical. Professional. You getting the subtext there, Welsh girl?

Owen: So you and Jack go back a long way then?
Martha: Forward and back, really. You might say we were under the same doctor.
Owen: You "might" say.
Martha: Well, the stupid Scottish git wouldn’t sleep with EITHER of us, so we weren’t actually under him. God knows we both tried.

Tosh: What did you do with Billy Davis’ body?
Ianto: I was just about to dispose of it, why?
Tosh: I thought of a way to use him to get into Weyland-Yutani. Clever, huh?
Ianto: Oh, you are warped on the inside. How do you think of these things?
Tosh: "Weekend at Bernie’s" is my favorite film!
Martha to Owen’s still-twitching corpse:
"How’s THAT for the ultimate magic bullet, you asshole?!"

Crap Lines – Gwen: Who’d assassinate a student?
Martha: Student Loans Company?
Gwen: Yeah, you’ve cracked it.
Martha: Gwen. I was joking.
Gwen: ....I knew that.

Jack: I had a boyfriend whose nostrils flared when he was lying. His name was Arnold, but everyone called him Ace. Strong, blonde haired, triceps you could crack a walnut on, savvy?

Martha: So, am I right in thinking that you and Jack play hide the salami?
Ianto: We... dabble.
Martha: Yeah?
Ianto: Yeah.
Martha: So, what’s his dabbling like?
Ianto: Innovative.
Martha: Really?!
Ianto: Bordering on the avant-garde.
Martha: I thought he was crap, personally.
Ianto: He was probably too drunk to perform on that occasion.
Martha: I wish I’D been.

Plot Oversights
- Why did Jack seem so surprised to find the security guards armed at WY? Hasn’t he seen any of the Alien films?
- What the hell is the point of the scene where Ianto reveals he is an expert in quantum mechanics and he and Martha have a competition to see who can solve the EPR paradox first using only Tosh’s keyboard?
- There are three sundials behind Ianto in the opening scene all displaying different times.
- Why would WY be advertising for healthy volunteers when they need people with terminal diseases? Is it some kind of reverse psychology? And what’s with all the spelling mistakes on the website? Are they trying to weed out any intelligent volunteers?
- Tosh seems to think that 2008 is 45 after 1962. It isn’t.
- Why on Earth does Copelli think that Martha has any affiliation with Touchwood? Is he just paranoid? Surely her competence makes it less likely she’s in the organization!
- Does TetraSOC know that Touchwood is stealing their forensic equipment, re-branding it and selling them on?
- Owen stupidly details his cunning plan for breaking into the whole WY complex while surrounded by armed WY security guards. No wonder the thick bastard dies at the end of the episode.

Viewers’ Quotes

"Holy shit! That black chick from Doctor Who is in this playing THE SAME CHARACTER! It’s almost, like, a crossover or something!!"
- hardcore fans of the first series of Touchwood (2008)

"I dunno. You think maybe Lavros works for Weyland-Yutani?"
- Bloke Who Looked Very Foolish Four Weeks Later (2008)

"Martha’s addition to the team is a bad thing, I’d say. She actually has less charisma than either Gwen or Tosh, and there was a lost opportunity for some bitchy rivalry with Tosh over Owen. That’s how those penis-free harlots act normally, isn’t it? I do think that killing off Owen like that is a huge mistake - if he stays permanently dead then they’ve killed off a popular character just to prove that life in Torchwood is dangerous, which is self-evident and obvious. If they bring him back to life then its too far-fetched for words. Unless they replace him with Adam Rickitt, in which case this a work of genius and no mistake!"
- Sparacus "Flamingo" Jones (2008)

"GOD DAMN IT, SLOW DOWN! Jesus! It’s only ten minutes into the episode and I can’t keep up! THIS IS SOME SERIOUSLY CONFUSING SHIT HAPPENING, MAN! OH MY HEAD!! Slow down! My consciousness is impaired! I cannot think! And it’s not even fifteen minutes into the story!"
- a very hungover Ewen Campion-Clarke (2008)

"I had such high hopes for this episode when it was banned in Ireland."
- Tom Paulin (2009)

"Dude! Is that a frakkin Wirrrn?! I mean, Alien ripped off The Lark In Space, now Touchwood is ripping them back off! FULL FIST!"
- David A McIntee (2008)

The Author Speaks
"I only agreed to write an episode if I got to waste Owen. Originally they wanted to kill off Ianto, but that wouldn’t provide the same gut satisfaction as seeing the arrogant little wide-mouthed rapist hypocrite choking to death on his own blood. I dare say people wouldn’t even NOTICE if Ianto died. Definitely not the actors, anyroads."

Trivia Answers
1. "Spott Decay" by Andy Lane 2. Test swabs and recycled Tetra Scene of Crime plastic bags.

Rumors and Facts

JC Wilsher was chosen, for some reason, to write the beginning of a story arc that would reaffirm links between Touchwood and Doctor Who while simultaneously killing off one of the main characters – partially to establish how dangerous life in Cardiff is, but mainly because the characters were all so fucking annoying they deserved to die. Originally, Ianto Jones would have perished when Copelli’s army of zombified plumbers chainsawed him into a thousand pieces, on the grounds that the scripts for the rest of the season would require little to no rewriting whatsoever.

However, after a long night on the town, RTD deemed that Gareth Lloyd-Davies "the sexiest bastard on Earth" and did not deserve to die. Thus Burn Gorman was chosen instead, even though he was contracted to be in the rest of the season. Chris Chibnall was confident something could be worked out, perhaps involving Owen being taken over by a Great Old One and turning bright blue.

As a tribute to the demise of Owen Harper, the end credits for the episode ran without theme music, with only the laughter and applause from the audience who gave this development the standing ovation it so rightly deserved.

Ruminations -
Touchwood finally begins to trawl sci-fi cliches that WEREN’T first done better by the Buffyverse, albeit ones that even Doctor Who can’t be arsed dealing with. Ironic since it features the return of Martha Jones as a new, borderline psychotic who STILL makes the Touchwood regulars look like useless wankers. And then the most useless and wankery of the lot dies from a sucking chest wound!

Touchwood 2008 - good times ahead!

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