Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Torchwood: They Keep Killing Suzie

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, not voting in council elections, distinct from the Brownies, non-members of the AA, and that’s not the half of it! The twenty-first century is when it all changes. I mean, statistically speaking, it’s very likely that happens. And we’ve got to be ready. Even if it doesn’t happen. Yep. Indeed."

Episode 8: They Keep Shagging Suzie

Touchwood is called by amateur sleuth Sally Sparrow to investigate the grisly murder of a suburban couple, with similar injuries as a murder victim the day before. Touchwood insist they aren’t remotely interested in the paltry affairs of piffling little Cardiff, even after Sally Sparrow reveals the word "TOUCHWOOD" is written in blood on the bedroom wall above the corpses at the murder scene. This troubles the gang, since while they have often gone on similar mindless crime sprees, this particular homicide had nothing to do with them. This can only mean the murderer was a Touchwood Groupie, the most detestably insane of fandom.

Gwen suggests the use of the Resurrection Gauntlet from episode one on the victims to determine who the killer is. Owen is worried about the Gauntlet... mainly because it’s the sort of thing that proves bloody useful and they completely forgot about it after episode one when it would have come in damn handy in every episode since. Jack allows them to proceed on the condition he gets to be the one to shoot the resultant zombies dead before there’s a George A Romero-type zombie apocalypse. Ianto points out than none of the revived humans turn into flesh-eating undead psychopaths, but Jack ignores him and sets up a rifle range with the bodies lined up in a row.

There is, however, a problem. Only Suzie knew how the damn thing worked and by the time Gwen figures out how to use the glove, the corpses have gone bright green and begun to smell. The victims, even when revived prove little to no help – the only one Jack DOESN’T shoot before they get a chance to speak has Tourette’s Syndrome and shouts out a string of obscenities mingled with the words "Max", "Suzie", "buttock", and "saddle up a posse pilgrim". Tosh runs this through her computer thingamajig and translates: the victims were murdered by Max, a guy who spent a lot of his time with someone called Suzie. Touchwood briefly considers the possibility that the Suzie was the same Suzie who blew her brains out in episode one, and then decide it’s a coincidence. After all, there are millions of people in Wales and who knows how many of them are called Suzie? The gang decide to give up entirely on finding out who the murderer is and instead put all Suzie’s belongings up on eBay.

Finally, after another fifty murders and more badgering from Sally Sparrow, they decide to eliminate Suzie from their list of inquiries by using the Gauntlet to bring her back from the grave. Tosh remembers that the Gauntlet worked better when the alien knife was used to kill
the victim and stabs Suzie’s corpse with it. Owen points out that an alien knife was NEVER used and Tosh says she was just practicing and reminds everyone she still despises them all for murdering her girlfriend in cold blood last week.

Suzie, returning to laugh, rolls her eyes and laughs insanely that "her brilliant plan is working exactly as she intended", and then quickly changes the subject and asks why they decided that a big-toothed girl cop stalker was the obvious choice to replace her, an expert in xenotechnological reverse-engineering, extraterrestrial language and culture, unarmed combat, and metal work. Owen and Jack agree Gwen was cuter than Suzie and also didn’t shoot herself through the head the moment things got slightly worrying.

Suzie, it turns out, IS the same Suzie who knows Murdering Max and explains that she ran a self-help group to boost her own self esteem. The fact Suzie herself committed suicide and one of the members murdered all the others shows that she was definitely not cut out for this particular line of work. Suzie heads to the room they rented and, even though he’s the only surviving member, Max still turns up to tell everyone how his week’s been and how his poetry is going. Touchwood immediately pounce on Max, beat the shit out of him, strip him naked, torture him with high-pressure hoses and then throw him in a cell.

"Another case solved!" says Jack confidently, but Ianto’s razor-keen insights that Max goes into a screaming, foam-at-the-mouth, psychotic fever every time Jack makes a smutty innuendo. Meanwhile, Suzie offers to get Gwen an ice cream if she helps Suzie visit her dying father in hospital. Since Psycho Gwen only has the emotional age of a fifteen year old, she immediately agrees to smuggle the zombie out of the Hub. Even as Jack and the others notice, the Hub suddenly goes into lockdown, preventing them from leaving or contacting the outside world.

Jack and Ianto find that Max is rocking back and forth in his cell, repeating "The 21st Century is when it all changes!" over and over again, and Tosh realize that Max was brainwashed by Suzie. Max’s repetition of the nonsensical quote has driven the Hub’s organic computer to shut down. But, since she hates the others, doesn’t actually tell them this.

In a fit of amphetamine-fueled paranoia, Jack realizes that this has all been a setup by Suzie; should she have died and not seen Max in three months, he would have become murderous, forcing Touchwood to use the Gauntlet on her and eventually capturing Max for him to act as a Trojan horse into their computer system and allowing her to escape... and there is only ONE person who can stop Suzie now!

Meekly, Jack rings Sally Sparrow at the DVD store she works at and politely begs her to help since they are trapped inside their own base. Sally Sparrow laughs at their predicament, calls Jack an asshole and hangs up, leaving them trapped until the lockdown clicks off six hours later, by which time Suzie and Gwen have visited an old man in hospital, smashed his life support and let him die. Gwen is slightly put off that Suzie’s main agenda after returning from the afterlife is to kill a random pensioner, and even more put off at the lack of ice cream she has been promised.

Suzie and Gwen head for Hedley Point to catch a ferry to the outer islands where they will be beyond Touchwood’s reach as the film crew is not allowed to leave Cardiff because they can’t be trusted to return. As they wait for the ferry, Gwen decides to indulge in bisexual necrophilia as it’s one of the few remaining vices she has left to try. The rest of Touchwood arrive to find the duo in a truly compromising position and even at gunpoint, Suzie refuses to let Jack join in, so our hero character shoots an unarmed woman six times.

He is soon swearing loudly as he remembers Suzie is a zombie and for once he is facing a foe as immortal as he is. As such, he has to stand around completely impotently as Suzie taunts him and catches a ferry into the distance. Gwen is disgusted: she never got that ice cream Suzie promised her. In fury, she smashes the resurrection gauntlet in the half-hearted hope it might cause Suzie to die. The fact they soon receive a text message from Suzie saying that something is there in the darkness and it is coming for them all suggests the plan didn’t work.

Trivia Questions
1. What was the name of Sally Sparrow’s spin off TV series?
2. Why on Earth is Ianto now Captain Jack’s boyfriend after Jack cold-bloodedly slaughtered the woman Ianto loved moments after pistol-whipping Ianto himself?

Great Moments -
Any scene where Sally Sparrow points out that Touchwood is a danger to society with their refusal to answer to any authority, and the incredibly pathetic attempts by Jack to change the subject, like discussing what a smashing blouse Sally happens to be wearing.

Fashion Crimes -
Suzie’s ultra-modern gaping-gunshot-wound-the-head causal look.

"That’s the thing about gloves, sir – they come in pairs."
"I don’t need fashion tips from you, tea boy."

Great Lines -

Sally: At last; you must be Touchwood. My team bitch about you all the time. And since most of the Welsh have long term amnesia, you guys must suck big time to be so memorable.
Jack: I’m Captain Jack Harkness.
Sally: So I’ve heard. Tell me something, are you always this dressy for a murder investigation?
Jack: What, you’d rather me naked?
Sally: [sighs] God help me, the stories are true.

Jack: Tread carefully people, with respect. This is the life of Suzie Costello... and it’s SO going on eBay! I want a minimum GPD of thirty bucks on everything, OK?

Gwen: But if there’s nothing... what’s the point of it all?
Suzie: This is. Driving through the dark. All this stupid tiny stuff. We’re just animals, howling in the night. Because it’s better than silence. Plus, it kills time till Doctor Who starts again.
Gwen: Yeah, alright, Suzie, stop creeping me out.

Suzie’s text message from beyond the grave -

Gwen: Have I got this right? When I die you get to keep all my possessions? My whole life’s gonna get stashed in a locker until some guy on eBay buys it all?
Jack: Yeah, it helps cover the cost of your funeral.
Gwen: But I don’t get buried, you just dump my body in the morgue!
Jack: So, we make a profit! What’s wrong with that?
Gwen: What if I leave all my stuff to Rhys?
All: WHO?!?
Gwen: Um... the guy I’m stalking. Did I mention him at all?
All: No.
Gwen: Well, what if I leave all my stuff to him.
Jack: We executive him, steal his body and sell HIM on eBay too.
Gwen: You’re a complete prick, Jack.
Jack: And THAT’S a guarantee.

Crap Lines -

Gwen: What if she never dies? Have you thought of that? Like, undying forever, just you and her?
Jack: No way! There’s not going to be another member of this team immortal on MY watch!
Gwen: So... you’d kill us all rather than let us life forever?
Jack: I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. I’d be a lot less interesting all of a sudden! I’d sooner kill you all right now.
Gwen: Could you though? Kill us?
Jack: OH YEAH!
Tosh: What a stupid question.
Ianto: Of course he would.
Owen: Yeah, where’ve you been lately, Nude Girl?

Tosh: That’s all we are in the end, a pile of cardboard boxes for Gene Hunt to drive his Ford Cortina through. The world is empty and soulless and no one has any effects on those left behind and, oh, by the way, you fuckers killed the girl I loved last week!

Sally: It was only a matter of time.
Jack: What was?
Sally: Touchwood walks all over this city like you own it. Which is fair enough I guess since no one else WANTS it, but now these people are paying the price. Ordinary people, ripped apart with your name written in their own blood! From where I’m standing you did this Captain Jack Sparrow. YOU did it.
Jack: Nonsense. I always strip MY murder victims naked first and rape them with a laser-sighted space dildo first. This is a completely different MO entirely! You call yourself a forensic pathologist?
Sally: No.
Jack: What a surprise.

Suzie: Captain, my captain, our trouble has begun!
The ship no longer sails, the battle is not won!
Captain, my captain, rise up, fight your cause!
For you I have died, for you I have broke laws!
The end is coming near and the whole world is dying
Think of your last mistake and know I’m not lying!
Gwen: What the hell are you babbling about now?

Sally: Oh, Jack, what do you want me to say on the death certificate?
Jack: I don’t know. Death by Touchwood.
Sally: Sure thing... you fuckit.

Plot Oversights
- How does Ianto know off the top of his head how many people they have murdered in rabid blood-lust fever?
- How can the first zombie talk when brought back since his throat is slit? For that matter, how is Suzie able to think or function at all with half her brain blown away? She looks remarkably good for a corpse killed by a self-inflicted gunshot wound at such short range.
- Why does Jack threaten to fire Gwen after sneaking her homicidal girlfriend out of the Hub but not Tosh or Ianto for getting their homicidal girlfriends INTO the Hub? Is it just because Gwen is Welsh?
- How the fuck does Toshiko uses a powerless keyboard by pressing the membrane beneath the keys? Although the semi-canonical touchwood.org.uk does explain that the computer infrastructure is part-organic, a tie-in website does not excuse such retardation in a TV show!
- Suzie’s whole plan hinged on someone being able to use the glove to bring her back to life, even though she knew no one else in the team could use it. How the hell did she know she could get out of the Hub before Max started the lockdown? Why is she so certain she knows how the glove works when her murder spree was precisely BECAUSE she was trying to get it to work? I tell you, if she wasn’t missing half her brain, I’d think she was pretty stupid.
- Why does Jack call Sally Sparrow for help instead of the Glasweigan branch of Touchwood run by Lavros (Paul Darrow)? Or Gwen for that matter? What does "Code 5" stand for – hope the nearest character created by Steve Moffat can save your sorry ass? Would they have tried Lynda Day and the Junior Gazette next?
- Why does the old guy die when Suzie switches off the bedside lamp? What sort of cancer does he have? Fear of the dark cancer?!
- In the SUV at midnight, Owen says that they have mere minutes to catch up with Suzie. The next scene at the docks is in broad daylight. Given Touchwood’s incredible incompetence, this could actually be a character point and not a goof...
- How often does Owen need to be told Jack cannot die before he starts to work out Jack may not be mortal?
- How does a gunshot shatter a metal glove?!

Viewers’ Quotes

"The first few episodes were fine and I thought it was going to be great but its been downhill all the way. The characters are increasingly silly and behave like sex-starved 16 year olds on speed, while even Captain Jack looks increasingly stressed in a bad way. The plots are dull and overly concerned with minor things instead of gripping sci-fi story lines. Hardly an updated Pertwee era Doctor Who or anything groundbreaking like the X Files. And where in the name of sweet merciful fuck is Ben Chatham?!? I’M SUPPOSED TO HAVE CONTROL OVER THIS, DON’T I? DIDN’T WE ALL AGREE TO THAT? HUH?!?!"
- Sparacus "Flamingo" Jones (2006)

"It’s hilarious watching a show that is trying to be cool; it’s like watching a show written by 40 year olds for a target audience of mid-teens! It’s the Kath & Kim of cult sci-fi! YEAH! I went there, bitches: do any of you lot wanna make something of it?!"
- Ewen Campion-Clarke being drunk and far too loud at Whovention 2009

"Touchwood doesn’t seem to share any of its parent show's ethics or decency and I am starting to feel a bit disgusted with the lengths it will go to shock. What is wrong with these people? They cannot keep their libidos in check for five minutes! The message here seems to be that relationships are not important and sleeping around is more satisfying. Get a life!"
- Mary Whitehouse II: This Time It’s Personal (2007)

"This is the only episode of Touchwood, and even counting all of the new series of Doctor Who, that I have had a desperate urge to watch again straight afterwards... and I did. I defy any regular viewers to not be hooked now!"
- a guy who was defied instantly judging by BARB ratings (2006)

"Whatever actually happened to old Max, anyway? Did he get fed to the pet pterodactyl or something?"
- Tat Wood (2006)

The Author Speaks -
"I get it all the time. Fans, viewers, critics, the BBC, Russell T Davies. 'Gobshite,' they say to me, 'Touchwood needs to grow up and stop aiming its screen time at brainless adolescents. This could have been a really special show but instead it only highlights how the show is populated with moral retards.' And I say to them, 'Hah, well, you can just suck my balls cause it’s EXACTLY the way I like it!' then I throw my drink in their face and head to the nearest whorehouse to bask in my own writing talent. I... AM... ***DEFINITELY***... GOD!!"

Trivia Answers
1. "Sparrow & Nightingale: Cute Geeks Save The World!"
2. I have no fucking idea.

Rumors and Facts -
Due to a massive administrative cockup, Indira Varma was contracted for two episodes instead of just the one where her character Suzie Costello would be made to resemble that particular cheese after she filled herself with innumerable holes. Thus, Chris Chin-Balls was forced to write an episode featuring Suzie again, and it only occurred to him after filming was completed it could have simply been a flashback ep and saved him a lot of bother.

The vehicle for Varma’s second appearance on the programme was They Keep Shagging Suzie - initially referred to in press items as simply They Keep Shagging in order to preserve the dual surprises of Suzie’s death at the end of Flotsma & Jetsom, her resurrection in this episode and revelation that even by Touchwood standards Suzie is something of the town bike.

The director of They Keep Shagging Suzie was James Strong who ironically was a 90-pound weakling unable to arm-wrestle a Chihuahua. It was made as part of the same recording block - the crappier third of the Touchwood season - as The Problem With Lisa Is That She’s A Cyber-Woman. This meant that the scenes of Ianto and Jack anally inserting stopwatches into each other in They Keep Shagging Suzie (which made sense at the time) were now ludicrous (since The Problem With Lisa Is That She’s A Cyber-Woman made it clear Ianto was threatening to kill Jack in public, private and on youtube to anyone who will listen). The three actual fans of Touchwood have been trying to explain this ever since and concluded either that Ianto is

a) a complete spineless pussy and promotion slut who will do anything even sleep with the boss and forget they murdered their girlfriend
b) working on an incredibly cunning and long term bloody revenge which involves pretending to fall in love with Jack so he drops his defenses and allows Ianto to kill him once and for all
c) Ianto has become contaminated with Welsh Alzheimer Syndrome and completely forgotten what an asshole Jack is

No sooner was the episode finished and Suzie Costello established as the new recurring enemy for the series, Varma left for the United States where she had accepted a starring role on the medical drama 3 lbs. The production for the rest of the series was completely and utterly screwed. When RTD learned of this misshap (when Chin-Balls rang him up to beg for help in a manner identical to Jack pleading with Sally Sparrow), he laughed uncontrollably and then hung up.

Ruminations -
This could for the first time be an episode which only Touchwood could really pull off - a former team member is brought back to life by an alien gauntlet as part of an unbelievably convoluted plot by a character we don’t know or care about leading to shoehorned sexual controversies for absolutely no reason whatsoever. No other show bar Touchwood could have taken this script and NOT doused it in petrol and set it alight as soon as looked at it, let alone deliberately added scenes encouraging the audience to try out promiscuous sex, kill your parents, commit suicide, and unambiguously reveal there is no kind of afterlife of any description whatsoever. It would take a truly demented mind to come up with this, and this is why They Keep Shagging Suzie is clearly Chris Chin-Balls’ first and only attempt to make a story NOT categorically ripping off an episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

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