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Review of Torchwood ‘Dead Of Night’

Neela Debnath

BB242071@TORCHWOOD 212x300 Review of Torchwood ‘Dead Of Night’SPOILERS: Do not read this if you have not seen episode 3, series 4 of ‘Torchwood’

Forced into hiding after evading the authorities last week, the newly formed Torchwood team has now gone on the run from the shadowy government figures who seek to erase them. It is still unknown who these people are and why they want to take out Torchwood but this is all put on the back burner as the team investigates the miracle day.

Last week it was hinted that morphic fields will play a part in what is going but this week there was greater focus on pharmaceutical companies. It has emerged that major drug manufacturer, PhiCorp has been stockpiling drugs in preparation for the miracle day and that someone told them it was coming. Given that people who should have died are not dying, forcing them to live with the perpetual pain of injuries and diseases that would otherwise have killed them, painkillers are essential.

To add to the intrigue PhiCorp have enlisted Oswald Danes to be the mouthpiece for their campaign to make drugs more widely accessible. They have also been lobbying congressmen to pass legislation that will make drugs readily available without prescriptions, thereby increasing their profits tenfold. On top of this, Jillian Kitzinger (Lauren Ambrose), the PR woman who approached Danes in the second episode turns out to work for PhiCorp. How much does she know about what her bosses are doing and could she potentially become an ally in the end?

‘Dead Of Night’ saw the return of the sex that the show is known and praised for. ‘Torchwood’ has always celebrated sexuality, and both heterosexual and homosexual relationships were introduced in this episode. The omnisexual Jack that viewers know and love was re-introduced and audiences saw him have a casual tryst with a barman. The sex was a distinguishing feature of the show and hopefully it will still be retained as the series progresses.

But since Jack has now become mortal, a sense of vulnerability has developed that has not been seen before. He and Gwen reflected about the miracle day and that if only it had come earlier the other members of Torchwood: Toshiko, Owen and Ianto would have survived. Despite the miles that Gwen and Jack have travelled they have not forgotten their friends, it is a poignant moment for the duo.

On a Whovian tangent, there were a couple of references to parent series ‘Doctor Who’. The most obvious was when Jack said that the PhiCorp warehouse was “bigger on the inside than the outside” which is the first thing every new visitor to the TARDIS says. Unfortunately, this time there was no familiar blue police box in sight.

The second were the masks of ‘The Soulless’, the cult that has formed following the miracle day. They are called ‘The Soulless’ because everlasting life has robbed mankind of their souls, as Gwen neatly surmises. The left eye on each of the masks has a teardrop in the corner similar to the ones that the new generation of Cyberman have. These faceless masks and the parallel to the Cybermen reinforce the loss of humanity. Moreover, the small allusions to ‘Doctor Who’ will remind those in the know that ‘Torchwood’ and ‘Doctor Who’ are in one and the same universe.

The writers have artfully kept up the suspense by making the Torchwood team fugitives. It is always a race against time and they are constantly on the run. In relation to the plot, so far too much has not been given away or too little offered which is vital if it is to sustain the interest from viewers.

The only real point of contention is Esther’s ‘translations’ of American English into British English and vice-versa. The need to explain that in America a ‘petrol station’ is called a ‘gas station’ and that ‘a cash point’ is an ‘ATM’ is unnecessary and patronising to British viewers. Alternatively, it may be for the benefit of those watching in the US, either way there seems to be condescension towards audiences on both sides of the pond.

‘Children of Earth’ was about the secrecy and conspiracy in the British government, a taut political thriller which made use of science fiction to analyse the inner workings of a trusted institution. ‘Miracle Day’ is shaping up to be a dark and cynical satire at the power of pharmaceutical companies and the lengths they will go to for a profit, even if it means inflicting eternal pain on the human race. However, there are more strands to this story that have yet to be teased out. It will be interesting to see what piece of the puzzle is revealed next.

Picture: BBC

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  • mystery234

    I think that quite a bit of those things that are unnecessary and
    patronizing to British viewers are necessary for Americans. I lived
    abroad and know most of the terms but I had to learn them. I was very
    surprised to find that “pants” did not mean trousers in British English
    and I had no idea what a British ATM is called. The same is true for the
    first episode. What might be elementary geography for someone from the
    UK is not for an American. We don’t learn about Wales in our geography
    classes. We are too busy trying to remember the names and capitals of
    all our 50 states. Trying to keep the balance between the Americans and the British as well as the old and the new viewers is tough. I am enjoying MD but not as much as Children of Earth.
    I hope that the move to Los Angeles brings good things – it is my home
    and I will actually recognize it! First time in Doctor Who History for
    me!! Looking forward to tomorrow night. From the previews it seems that we get to hear Gwen’s terrible American accent. Fun stuff.

  • Guest

    I think that quite a bit of those things that are unnecessary and patronizing to British viewers are necessary for Americans. I lived abroad and know most of the terms but I had to learn them. I was very surprised to find that “pants” did not mean trousers in British English and I had no idea what a British ATM is called. The same is true for the first episode. What might be elementary geography for someone from the UK is not for an American. We don’t learn about Wales in our geography classes. We are too busy trying to remember the names and capitals of all our 50 states. Trying to keep the balance between the Americans and the British as well as the old and the new viewers is tough. I am enjoying MD but not as much as Children of Earth. I hope that the move to Los Angeles brings good things – it is my home and I will actually recognize it! First time in Doctor Who History for me!! Looking forward to tomorrow night. From the previews it seems that we get to hear Gwen’s terrible American accent. Fun stuff.

  • http://twitter.com/Paul_Couch Paul Couch

    As a longtime fan of Torchwood, I have to say that I’m actually hating Miracle Day with a vengeance. It’s not a patch on Children of Earth and certainly not on some of the better eps of the series (we’ll gloss over Cyberwoman!). When thugs grunt “Let’s get them”, you know it’s time for writers to look at what they’re doing. It’s playground make-believe language. Come on, get Torchwood back to its roots before it’s cancelled.

    Sorry to be controversial but John Barrowman just looks old and tired now. Playing Capt Jack by the numbers…

  • zumbruk

    “‘Dead Of Night’ saw the return of the sex that the show is known and praised for.”

    Really? By whom? Not by me, that’s for sure. The sex was pointless, irrelevant and slightly offensive. I shan’t be watching again.

  • http://twitter.com/Paul_Couch Paul Couch

    Agreed. I have absolutely no problem with sex and sexuality being portrayed on screen but this was completely gratuitous.

  • Olifans

    I really don’t know what you mean about the sex because it was so artless and gratuitous and I thought the dialogue during these (pointless) points contrived.


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