Dum dum dum diddle diddle diddle…
Yep the unmistakable opening music of Torchwood, gets you right there doesn’t it.
Unless you’ve been living on Mars or other outlying provinces you will have noticed that the BBC have been having something of a Torchwoodfest recently. Stripped over five nights Torchwood: Children of Earth was the Beeb’s attempt to revamp and to a certain extent reboot the flagging franchise. Of course it’s doing terribly well in America, to the extent that it was mentioned recently in an episode of Nightrider (the ultimate accolade?) However in Britain it has always felt like the unloved bastard whore child of Doctor Who. Russell T Davies has stated on more than one ocassion that he regrets not beeing able to lavish much time on it and it showed. It got off to a bad start by setting itself up as an ‘adult’ program. However the team always shied away from dealing with any genuinely adult situations and instead preferred to have their characters act like hormonal teenagers.
On more than one occasions adult viewers found themselves bellowing at the television because these hardened defenders of the earth couldn’t even fire a gun. Preferring instead to put down their weapons and be taken prisoner. This is absolutely fine for a family show like Doctor Who but characters in a show for adults should be shooting the bad guys in the head.
Lets face it this was Sci-Fi Hollyoaks and I for one was about to give up on it when they gave us what we wanted.
Torchwood: Children of Earth marked a new direction for the series. It dealt with proper grown up feeling like betrayal, grief, disappointment, and helplessness in the face of adversity. Yep they got the full bag.
However I’m not going to give a full review of the series as the brilliant Caitlin Moran does a much better job here than I could. Instead I’m going to address the fan response to death of leading character Ianto Jones.
When the series began Ianto was the Jeeves of the group. He’d worked for the original Torchwood (which was destroyed in the traumatic Doctor Who episode ‘Doomsday’) and spent most of his time making coffee and ordering pizzas. When he was actually called on to do any fighting he would pretty much shit himself but he had a few tricks up his sleeve. He knew how to play the game and where the bodies were burried, he was in short, a Civil Servant.
As the series progressed it became clear that the character was being left behind. He didn’t seem to have any special skills so was of little use in a crisis but he did make a good cup of coffee. To address this, the writers made him Capt. Jack’s squeeze and allowed him more involvement in the adventures. However the character was never really allowed to develop. As the cast was whittled down to three they made him braver and he handled his death brilliantly but for poor Ianto it was the end of the line, time to meet the great coffee grinder in the sky.
Now for most of ‘us’ Torchwood viewers, Ianto’s death was sad but it wasn’t the end of the world. They’ll cast a new team and the series will carry on as normal. You see most of us are Doctor Who fans and are used to a well loved character being killed off. It’s just part of being a fan of that particular series; yes it’s heartbreaking when it happens and I can’t forget the mixture of grief and excitement I felt when Tom baker regenerated into Peter Davison and which I will feel again when David Tennant turns into Matt Smith. The one thing that being a Doctor Who fan teaches you, is that life goes on.
However the youngsters of today don’t really have those experienced to draw on, so the death of Ianto Jones seems like a huge thing. At this very moment they are campaigning and petitioning to bring back Ianto. Now as much as I sympathise with these fans, I can’t share their views. The character is dead and that’s how he needs to stay. Especially if the series wishes to gain any credibility. Yes it’s a silly series but in the end if it wants to stand on it’s own as a grown up science fiction series the dead need to stay dead – unlike Captain Jack of course who drops dead every thirty minutes. That’s something else they need to address. It would be nice to watch at least one series in which he survives undeaded to the end – after all it is a crap super power.
In conclusion the death of Ianto is what happens to fictional characters. Actors are used to it and writers delight in shocking their audiences. It amuses me that the death of an adult who knew what he was letting himself in for, is mourned. Yet the child who Capt. Jack cold bloodedly murdered is ignored completely. All I can say is that I hope these fans never have kids as Social Services would be overrun.
Sausages and mash tonight.