Monday, 30 October 2006

Torchwood: "The Ghost Machine" 8/10

Probably the best episode of the 3 shown so far, though still with its faults so not quite a 9 from me. I've not read or heard any other views yet, but I'd imagine those disappointed or appalled at the first 2 episodes (if they stayed) were better pleased with Helen Raynor's "The Ghost Machine" - a fairly simple plot requiring minimal special effects. Basically all about an alien device and the indirect effects it has. In fact it was so simple that the first 10 minutes or so, dealing with Gwen's experience of the device (where she is psychologically 'sent back' to experience the fear and loneliness of a schoolboy evacuee during the war) was something of a 'red herring' once the main plot followed up Owen's traumatic flashback to a 1963 murder via the titular device. Burn Gorman really took the opportunity to shine as the obsessed Owen, adding much needed dimensions to the character, especially in two face-offs with Gareth Thomas playing the murderer tracked down after 43 years.

As noted I'd say this was Owen's episode, and the faults for me mainly lay with attempts to shoehorn in more of Jack and Gwen. The aforementioned first 1o minutes, led by Gwen, hinting at a menace which never came to pass and, more so, a scene with Jack in the Hub's shooting gallery didn't really get us anywhere but were very well done.

This episode has been largely drained of the black humour that had been to the fore in episodes 1 and 2. Possibly a little too much - with Owen otherwise engaged we looked to Captain Jack and caught him on a 'serious' day. This bossy and brooding Jack is now far removed from the cheeky rogue met by the ninth Doctor and Rose. Hope we haven't lost that Jack for good.

I also had a slight problem with the 'ghost machine' foretelling events as well as recalling them, especially if the premonitions don't neccessarily come true - as was key in the climax of the episode.

Another small niggle for me was the "Strictly Come Dancing" line which should have placed the episode around Christmas week (if the final was on TV). It obviously wasn't Christmas so the word 'final' should have been avoided. But a very minor quibble.

Next week's episode looks to be Ianto's with the discovery of his alarming secret in the basement. I'm guessing it will be really bad or really good.

Screengrabs courtesy of The Institute

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