Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Adventures in a World Full of Aliens and Untold Weevils; TV WATCH

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Adventures in a World Full of Aliens and Untold Weevils; TV WATCH

Article excerpt

Byline: PETE CLARK

Torchwood BBC3

AFTER the interplanetary success of Dr Who, which has now been sold to virtually every other planet in the solar system, it was inevitable that there would be a surge of interest in extraterrestrial activity. It has been pointed out before, but bears repetition, that drama is endlessly refreshed by what might loosely be termed science fiction because the impossible is allowed to happen.

No storyline ever need get bogged in simple chains of cause and effect because when that point is reached, a creature with a strange-shaped head can alter the course of the action because in his world anything is possible.

There is, indeed, no end of strange magic that can be wrought when the shackles of accepted wisdom are cast off. Take, for example, Torchwood, an adult take on the genre created by the regenerator of Dr Who, Russell T Davies.

The opening scenes take place in some modern metropolis, where the shadows of night steal across concrete and ref lect blackly in huge expanses of glass. Then the camera becomes majestically airborne, hovering above a city of winking lights which just about illuminate the outlines of modern architectural endeavour. We could be anywhere in the world, but the exact location, when it is given, is a shock: Cardiff.

Welcome to a place where preconceptions are worthless, boyo.

A dead body has been discovered and is surrounded by the usual hullabaloo of activity. Suddenly, everyone draws back, police and medics alike. Make way for Torchwood!

Four figures in dark outfits are silhouetted against the harsh lights. Their outfits are worn with a casual insouciance, and they are certainly not in any kind of uniform. Within moments they have crouched down by the body and brought it back to life for two minutes, by means of a metal gauntlet.

Questions are asked but no satisfactory answers from the ex-corpse are received. After two minutes, it returns to the underworld.

The four figures admit what seems to be a failure with little more than a bout of mild squabbling followed by a group shrug.

This is the way any self-respecting group of specially enabled people should be introduced. That they are part of mysterious conspiracy must be established without delay. The viewer is longing to be whisked to a strange place where normal rules are in abeyance and the chores of daily existence have been banished. In order for this to happen, the viewer requires a guide, a person who is involved in this fiction and is just as anxious as we are to explore further.

Step forward police constable Gwen Cooper, who was present when the body was found and is desperate to know more about the strange quartet who took precedence over everyone else at the scene of the crime.

In very short order, Gwen has been exposed to more than a young Cardiff lass ought to be, even one who is a bright-eyed, pin-sharp copper. …

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