Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Torchwood: Small Worlds

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.

"All irregularities will be handled by the forces handling each dimension. Transuranic heavy elements may not be used where there is life. Medium atomic weights are available. Gold, Lead, Copper, Jet, Diamond, Ruby, Sapphire, Silver, Steel and ahm er TOUCHWOOD... TOUCHWOOD THREE has been assigned."

Episode 5: Assignment Seven: Fairie Folk... of DEATH!

Jack takes Gwen to visit his new girlfriend of his, the 90-year-old Estelle, who is giving a talk on fairies. The insane old bat claims to have found proof of the fairies’ existence, which turns out to be a very old photo that was a fake anyway. Jack asks Estelle to call if she encounters any more fairies or if she feels up to another night of serious hardcore roggering. On the way back to Touchwood, Jack explains to Gwen that the fairies are creatures from the dawn of time and are not bound by linear time. Plus they’re homicidal psychopaths, which means they could just be dangerous. Jack instructs Toshiko to watch for the fairies and she laughs her ass off at his naivete.

Just then, Estelle calls, saying she can hear strange voices. Jack assumes this is some kind of role-playing game and by the time he realizes he’s wrong, Estelle is dead, having drowned in a perfectly dry high rise flat. Jack mourns her loss for about thirteen seconds and then goes on the pull. Taking them all to the pub, Jack chats about one of his earlier Time Agent Hustle-type cons which actually went ever-so-slightly awry when all of his fellow conmen were suddenly killed by invisible monsters, their mouths filled with rose petals.

Gwen returns home to find her own house in disarray, with leaves and rock patterns on the floor, and is incredibly pissed off. The team realizes that the fairies are becoming more protective and aggressive, but not half as psychotic as Gwen has become as she immediately sets off to set fire to the forest that the fairies are rumored to be living in to "see how those tiny winged fuckers like it".

The plot then turns to the life of an ugly spoiled brat called Jasmine who decides to walk home from school alone so she can lure out pedophiles for her invisible fairy friends to brutally murder by making them choke to death on rose petals. This is apparently much more fun than going home and watching cartoons. She then deliberately annoys the school bullies so the fairies attack them with a tornado, before going home and ruining her parents’ barbecue by getting her pals to murder her stepfather and burn the house down.

By a truly staggering coincidence, Touchwood happened to be invited to the barbecue but unfortunately prove to be completely useless in preventing harm coming to the other guests. Jasmine and the fairies flee to the bottom of the garden and Jack realizes that Jasmine is the Chosen One, a child so nasty they deserve promotion into extra-dimensional killing machines.

Jack assures everyone that if they tried to stop Jasmine being taken away, not only would there be a huge amount of collateral damage and civilian casualties, they’d have to put up with that bitch Jasmine all the time. So, Jack punches out Jasmine’s distraught mother as the little girl skips into oblivion surrounded by glowing fairies. He then suggests to the rest of the team they share a beer and try to look on the bright side.

They ignore him and decide that Gwen’s plan of burning down the forest.

Trivia Questions
1. What does Owen repeatedly call Gwen in this episode?
2. Who was the Mara two-timing Captain Jack with?

Great Moments
That truly stupendous moment when Jack wakes up in the middle of the night to find Ianto vacuuming and asks his butler, "Didn’t I fire your pale Welsh ass last week?"

Fashion Crimes
Estelle’s transparent negligee. My eyes are still bleeding.

Missing Adventures –
Jack reveals he went after Estelle when he was dumped by a psychic entity of pure evil, the Mara.

Technobabble -
Jack intends to "reverses the polarity of necrophilia flow" in his relationship with Estelle.

Great Lines -

Estelle: He’s shy, you see. But I know in my heart that Jack is a friendly, loving man.
Jack: Wrong. She ALWAYS gets it wrong.

Jack: Something from the dawn of time, how could you possibly put a name to that. Apart from maybe the generic label, "Evil From The Dawn Of Time", which would work, I guess.
Gwen: Are we talking alien?
Jack: Worse.
Gwen: Can you show your working there, Jack?
Jack: Because they’re part of us. Part of our world, yet we know nothing about them. So we pretend to know what they look like. We see them as happy. We imagine they have tiny little wings and are bathed in moonlight.
Gwen: ...and?
Jack: They’re not. Think dangerous. Think something you can only half see, like a glimpse, like something out of the corner of your eye, with a touch of myth, with a touch of the spirit world, a touch of reality all jumbled together. Old moments and memories that are frozen in amongst it. Like debris spinning around a ring planet; tossing, turning whirling. And backwards and forwards through time. If that’s them we have to find them. Before all hell breaks loose.
Gwen: ...fuck this.
(She walks off, shaking her head.)

Crap Lines -

Jack: Old chicks and the spirit world – they go together.

Pedophile: Come away, o human child to the waters and the wild with a fairy, hand in hand, for the world's more full of weeping than you can understand!

Jack: We once made a vow that we’d be with each other till we died. It’s the sort of thing you do when you’re immortal and hang out at retirement homes to score with the chicks who don’t need their own oxygen supply...

Gwen: In the whole of my working life I have never had to bring the bad times home with me. I have never had to feel threatened in my own home. But not anymore, because this means these creatures can invade my life whenever they feel like it and I am NOT FUCKING AMUSED! LET’S SEE HOW FIRE-RESISTANT THESE BASTARDS ARE! MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

Owen: You asked me what chance we have against them; for the sake of the world, this is our only chance! Now, Sapphire, TAKE TIME BACK!

Plot Oversights
- Why doesn’t Estelle notice all the fairies tend to scream in agony whenever she takes a photo of them?
- If fairies can be caught on camera, why didn’t they show up on the CCTV footage?
- Are cars normally allowed to drive through residential parks? Who has a big party at mid-day on a weekday? How come teachers don’t believe school bullies exist? Wouldn’t the meat on the grill cook better if Roy switched the grill on first? Why do prison cells each have an en suite tool box of sharp pointy things? Are the Welsh even MORE stupid than we have hitherto been led to believe?
- How does Goodson walk through Cardiff Market clearly choking and bleeding with barely a reaction from anyone, not even the policeman that’s queuing for food?
- Why do the fairies come for Estelle; she never hurt them? Did they do it to get at Jack? Does it have anything to do with his immortality? Were they just really nauseated at what he was up to with the old bag?
- Owen says Roundstone Forest was all forest in primeval times – which makes it exactly like every other forest in primeval times! This is particularly noticeable as Roundstone Wood doesn’t really exist in the first place! What utter, utter crap!
- Under current UK law, upon arrest a detainee must be treated "humanely and with respect". Grabbing passers by and slamming them into the hood of the squad car screaming, "YOU CRAZY FUCKER!" is not proper practice, even for the Welsh.
- Although fairy myths have been around for centuries, the current depiction of them that the “good fairies” take on has only been in popular culture since the 1800s – what did they choose to look like before then? Huh? Answer me that, Hammond!
- The garden fence the fairy breaks through is clearly painted onto a paper hoop, which is all the more baffling since the fairy is completely CGI.
- Why don’t the fairies kill all of Touchwood? It’d be a lot easier for everyone. Especially me. I’m sick of this guide after only five entries!

Viewers’ Quotes

"That cat of Estelle’s is more interesting than the rest of Touchwood."
- Dave Restal (2006)

"PJ.Hammond serves a lesson or two to the likes of Russell T. Davies and Chris Chin-balls in terms of how to write mature, post-watershed TV drama. Unfortunately, this wasn’t it."
- Fraser George McDonald (2006)

"Honestly, some kids get all the luck. There were plenty of occasions in my childhood that being protected from all harm by supernatural forces would have come in very bloody useful, thank you so much. But do those faerie folk give a hand when it’s needed? Assholes. They deserve to put up with Jasmine for the rest of time."
- Ewen Campion-Clarke (2006)

"So with Earth-based horrors, moral ambiguity, a brave, risqué attitude to the way the series is shown, and far, far too many companions, is Touchwood more like Doctor Who than Doctor Who itself? Perhaps, in some ways, the master could learn from the student. And, perhaps, in other ways, they could cancel this shit and concentrate on Doctor Who?"
- Cameron J Mason (2007)

The Author Speaks -
"PJ’s not going to talk to you, buster, so it’ll have to be me again. Yes, stop crying will you? It’s not exactly lots of fun for me, either. Now, it’s possible that if Doctor Who had never been cancelled, it would look and feel a bit like Touchwood does today. And it’s definite that if Sapphire & Steel hadn’t been cancelled, it would look and feel exactly like this episode of Touchwood does today."

Trivia Answers
1. Sapphire.
2. The Fifth Doctor as seen in Kinda’ and Snakedate.

Rumors and Facts -
Peter J Hammond had enjoyed a career in television spanning more than four decades, writing for everything from Z Cars, Thirty Minute Theatre and Emmerdale Farm to The Bill, Doctor Finlay and Midsomer Murders. He had gained perhaps his greatest acclaim with Sapphire & Steel, a highly-confusing series which people like Rob Shearman have been ripping off ever since. Subsequently, Hammond wrote Paradise Jive, a discarded entry into the sprawling The Mistrial Of A Time Lord story which made up Doctor Who’s tumultuous twenty-third season in 1986. Saward rejected on the grounds that Hammond was a clear intellectual threat and they never spoke again.

Hammond was finally given the opportunity to have a Doctor Who-related script make it to screen when he was commissioned to write a for Touchwood. However, after an hour meeting with Chris Chin-Balls, Hammond decided not to waste his monumental genius on drivel like this and save his good stuff for proper Doctor Who. He simply handed over some lesser down S&S scripts for Touchwood to use.

The director for this episode was Patrick Troughton, who had fallen through a rift in time and space while heavily drunk and stoned with Fraser Hines. Together, they worked on Touchwood, Holby City and EastEnders for their temporal atomic weight drew them back to 1969 and they put the whole thing down to a bad acid trip.

Ruminations –
Jack has to give Jasmine up to the fairies in order to save the world and so this is the first episode in which the Touchwood team "loses", though, mind you, I don’t ever actually recall them "winning" in the first place. I mean, all of this suggests that the team are actually trying to do something beyond getting laid and acting smug, superior and oversexed, which is rather far fetched on the evidence to hand.

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