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Review: ‘Torchwood’ – Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

The following contains MODERATE SPOILERS for “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang,” the second season premiere for the BBC series “Torchwood.” Outside the Government and beyond the Police, the Cardiff branch Torchwood are back for another season : and this time they are joined by the incredible James Marsters who brings an extra touch of style, drama […]

The following contains MODERATE SPOILERS for “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang,” the second season premiere for the BBC series “Torchwood.”

Outside the Government and beyond the Police, the Cardiff branch Torchwood are back for another season : and this time they are joined by the incredible James Marsters who brings an extra touch of style, drama and fun to the premiere episode.

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang starts off not too long after the first season finale that ended with Jack (John Barrowman) embarking on an adventure with The Doctor and very quickly brings fans up to speed on what has transpired since. The teams efforts to deal with Jacks desertion was the most significant development and the entire team are shown in a more vulnerable light than they were last year.

They may be considered as Britains best, but in this episode they are originally seen as children trying to learn without a parent pointing out their mistakes.

Their almost spy-like antics were not too dissimilar to the opening of Buffy the Vampire Slayers third season as the scoobies try to fight the good fight without their heroine, but by the episodes end they will of course prove they have what it takes.

But what would Torchwood be without our loveable rogue? Capt. Harkness very quickly re-enters the picture and faces an unexpectedly cold welcome by his former colleagues. Thanks to his disappearing act via the Tardis, Team Torchwood now have some hefty abandonment issues and just a small chip on the shoulder with their Commander-In-Chief.

Enter Capt. John Heart — former Time Agent and lover of Jack who has a bit of a mean streak. James Marsters brings a very sinister and almost unstable character to life as he coerces the team to begin a search for a series of explosives planted throughout Cardiff. He is a constant joy to watch and no stranger to darker characters which is why from the moment he appears on the screen he is instantly at home on the adult-rated series.

What Worked

Despite being billed as an adult show, the aptly titled Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang featured a lot of the same levels of fun and humor that would normally be expected from Doctor Who but without compromising the mature nature of the series. The blowfish driving a sports car was one of the more amusing moments as was pretty much all of Capt. Johns dialogue – among the best was a small piece of holographic fun and also a quip on the Torchwood team name: what, not Excalibur?

For those not aware of the evolution of Torchwood as a series, Excalibur was a show in development at the hands of Russell T. Davies and Julie Gardner when the call went out for Doctor Who. Following the success of the time traveling series, Excalibur hit the back burner and eventually became Torchwood, so having an in-joke as a small salute to the origins of the show will surely delight Woodies everywhere.

Watching people learn of Jacks invincibility shows no sign of ever getting old, and it looks like it might actually become one of the lighter aspects to the series. With a South Park style twist to episodes, how many ways are there to kill Capt. Jack Harkness?

There was also a nice little hint at the very end to push the series into a subtle arc for the rest of the year that should prove to provide a little more tension and another glimpse into the enigmatic Capt. Jack.

What Didnt Work

With a very flimsy plot that only just manages to hold together (with a reboot no less), the episode lacks the same finesse of Doctor Who and the best of Torchwoods first season. There was some fantastic score last year, particularly from The Ghost Machine chase sequence, and so it was something of a small letdown that this episode didnt live up to the shows previous musical standards. Blurs Song 2 felt a little too ham handed for the fight scene between the two former Time Agents in the bar, but ultimately the confrontation held together thanks to the talents of both Barrowman and Marsters.

Similarly, Jack asking Ianto (Gareth David-Lloyd) out on a date as they raid an office in the middle of Cardiff City Center also lacked the same subtleties that made Torchwoods first season fun and fresh to watch. With adult themes designed for adults, the sexual innuendo and character relationship were just that little bit more grown up than youd find in other genre shows. But in the office both characters reverted to the levels of schoolgirls with a crush finally bringing their feelings out into the open. After a lot of attention devoted to the new-look Hub in the run up to the premiere, it was a tad disappointment that those changes werent revealed with any great significance. Sure, the briefing room has re-located and as a result has had a major face-lift, but now it looks more like a reject from the Ikea catalogues dining room range.

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due “Torchwood” stars John Barrowman, Eve Myles, Burn Gorman, Gareth David-Lloyd and Naoko Mori and airs Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. GMT on BBC 2, and then on at Saturday nights at 9 p.m ET on BBC America. “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang” was written by Chris Chibnall, who co-created the show, and was directed by Ashlea Way.

Alan Stanley Blair is the assistant news editor for Airlock Alpha and its sister site Rabid Doll. Contributing from his home country of Scotland, he is currently studying for a diploma in freelance journalism and can be reached at anytime at ablair@airlockalpha.com.

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