DVD REVIEW: Torchwood Season 2

Torchwood season two does a good job topping the previous season's offering, which is no small accomplishment considering the superb first season they had with series one. Almost 13 hours, season two will keep you interested as well...

Eve Myles returns as the rookie member of the UK's least covert covert alien chasing agency "Torchwood." This time, Gwen is no longer a rookie, but still the voice of humanity in a consistently inhuman company of players. The face of Torchwood, Capt. Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) returns in fantastic form. He's a mostly immortal ex-Time Agent, ex-confidence trickster. Jack is back returning from a story arc in the 3rd season of Dr. Who which connected directly to the Torchwood season finale.

Production-wise Torchwood season two has the same flavor and feel that made season one such a breakout hit. Everyone's personality has been tweaked ever so slightly, even Jack's--if such a thing is possible. More ubiquitous is the nature of Jack's 51st century randy libido, unleashed upon the poor old 21st. Most things set and costume-wise remain status quo from season one, but some interesting changes include Torchwood earpieces (a.k.a Bluetooths) from series one are replaced by invisible dermal patches and Jack's Wrist thingy from Dr. Who "Empty Child," is now complete with holograms.

Torchwood declassified series 2, is included again. The episode-per-episode tie-in series is short at 10-15 min. installments and consistently good for a behind-the-scenes companion.

BBC America is currently running the series 2 episodes, if you want to try it before you buy it.

The Episode Guide has SOME MINOR PLOT SPOILERS!!! Read at your own risk.

Episode 1: Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang
It features yet another "Buffy" cameo for the Dr. Who universe: the great James Marsters (a.k.a TV's Spike) as Capt. John Hart, Jack's ex-partner & fellow Time Agent. Things have changed since Jack's been literally to the end-of-time and back (see Dr. Who series 3, episodes 11-13). The team has become more independent and cohesive in their mysterious leader's mysterious absence. Other things have changed. The Batcave's trusty butler Ianto Jones (played by Gareth David-Lloyd) is in the field with a gun. Eve Myles' Gwen is engaged now. Brainy Tosh pines for the jaded Owen, oh well that's not a change. Gone are the distracting ear pieces & Bluetooths, now the team simple put a finger to some invisible and unmentioned dermal patch. Jacks even more over-the-top than last season and in Doctor Who.

Episode 2: Sleeper
The invasion isn't just coming, this time it is already here (or there in the United Kingdom anyway). This one has some terrific emoting from the guest cast and some cinematic moments when a building is apparently blown sky-high in what is revealed in the "Declassified" tie-in as a segment shot the day after the Glasgow airport terrorist attack on June 30th.

Episode 3: To the Last Man
This one should also be called "Sleeper," but its "TO THE LAST MAN." Poor Tosh she's into one bad relationship into the next, pining for the likes of Owen, not to mention non-existent loves (see Episode 5). This time she's got it for a lovely young WWI soldier whose destiny is to save the "future" itself a some unspecified time, so he's frozen at the Torchwood Hub until the time he's needed to return to 1918 and do his duty, only periodically thawed out for a ck-up, eats and socializing with Tosh. It's probably the perfect relationship for the introverted Tosh, who by design doesn't make time to date. The additional irony of the situation comes from expectations of the slightly older Tosh being from a more open sexual environment (the 21st century and the randy Torchwood team itself) but being the more prudish and less experienced of the two. This episode rings very much of the lost love scenario in the first season episode with the displaced plane passengers of the 40's.

Episode 4: Meat
Bad guys are selling mystery-meat carved off of a giant whale-like captive, Gwen's fiancé Rhys discovers the truth behind her "special ops" assignment and enters the world of Torchwood as a suspect in the latest case. There are some great moments between Gwen and Rhys in "Meat." After plans to kill the faithful blue-collar boyfriend were scrapped following the ending of the first series mainly do to the production teams love of the actor (Kai Owen), the need to treat him as less of sap emerges with this rite of passage. But, the secret function of Torchwood is the least of the secrets of season one that Gwen is still keeping from Rhys, including an affair with co-worker Owen and her emotional connection to Capt. Jack.

Episode 5: Adam
Gwen returns from a brief vacation to fine a long-time team member at Torchwood, the catch is she's never met him. Not only are the team's memories altered to include Adam, but so are their very memories of they are an how they behave: Tosh becomes extroverted and confident, while the jaded and vociferous Owen assumes a Clark Kent-like nerdish persona, Iantos Jones, upon discovering the truth, ends up with memories of being a serial killer. Adam's memory altering abilities inadvertently lead to Gwen forgetting her fiancé and Capt. Jack reliving some block memories including the death of his father and lost of his brother. This leads to some great flash-forwards to some of Jack's origins referred to briefly in Dr. Who. Other great moments include the trait swapping of regulars, especially Tosh's new-found banter. Apparently there's a correlation between "confidence and cleavage." I shall miss Tosh's ..."confidence" in future episodes.

Episode 6: Reset
"RESET" reintroduces the Doctor's smart and likeable companion from Dr. Who season 3 Martha Jones. Martha and Jack have already seen the end of time together not to mention having lived a non-existent year and saving the world, both of which only Jack and the Jones' would recall. Now apparently working as a full medical Doctor for the para-military UNIT, a more seasoned Martha comes to aid Torchwood's investigation into a research project that is going to far serve mankind. Martha shows her trust in Jack by placing her self in harm's way as an undercover guinea pig for the deadly experiments. Singularity scalpel makes its appearance as a gadget Owen is struggling to master that can disintegrate an object with no harm to the surrounding material; it turns up in again in "Something Borrowed."

Episode 7: Dead Man Walking
Jack recovers another resurrection gauntlet, in order to restore a fallen member of the team with extraordinary consequences. Loads of cinematic scenes ensue as a horde from a Weevil nest pursues the team. This one has it all: Farting, puking and the meaning of Life. Some really great moments, some interesting character dynamics are created, for example you have two characters, one that will live forever, and another who is dead for ever.

Episode 8: A Day in the Death
Resolves the loose 3 part story arc, dealing with the repercussions of another resurrection. What role does an "undead" character have in Torchwood? A performance based story.Hats off to the production staff for consistently working costume breakdowns on a character that will never be able to heal any injury. So for example : bandaging remains throughout the season.

Episode 9: Something Borrowed
Torchwood brings out the big guns, gowns and chainsaws. A shape-shifter crashes Gwen's wedding to the long-suffering Rhys. What could possibly go wrong on a Torchwood member's wedding? Try: shape-shifting aliens, cocooned guests and an unexpected pre-wedding pregnancy via monster-bite. "Something Borrowed" is a crazy, disturbing, fun romp. It even has a more of the awkward love triangle with Jack, Rhys and Gwen (and Jack would have you believe that's quite a triangle).

Episode 10: From out of the Rain
More slightly skewed primal childhood fears from the writer of last season's bad fairy episode. This time it is at the big top and creep carneys trapped on celluloid. The concept here is cool but it suffers in execution. Costume design, atmosphere and technical effects like the use of "light balloons" make much of this story strikingly eerie. The Ghostmaker, a creepy ringmaster with a serial killer twist which is all the more frightening for being supernatural beyond the science of even Torchwood. Disturbing lines like "make her cry...I want to drink her tears..." carry this less successful story further. Also successful here is regular series composer Ben Foster's mood music combines electronic and more esoteric instruments to great effect.

Episode 11: Adrift
Has Gwen gotten hardened, has she lost her humanity that set her apart from the veteran co-workers? Teenager Jonah, a teen goes missing 6 months earlier, and Jack happens to be in the neighborhood, coincidence or does the team has real trust issues, worse does the Cardiff Rift take as well a give? Andy (from Pilot & other episodes), Gwen's old cop co-worker from Heddlu PD, returns to get Gwen's help and the case gets bigger with each step, Jonahs but one of many missing persons possibly connected to the Rift. Do they accept what they cannot change or can they do more? "Adrift" is a subtle, moving story with some great character exploration, lovely dramatic moments and cool revelations about Torchwood.

Episode 12: Fragments
The team is caught in an explosion, unconscious they recall the day were recruited to Torchwood. This one is really well done, some of the milestones here include the true source of Owen's pain, how the team got their pet pterodactyl, and how Jack looks in sideburns. Tosh's timeline fits awkwardly with her appearance in "Aliens of London," but butler Ianto Jones' origin connects neatly into Jack's aim to severe ties with the old-rule of the Torchwoods.

Episode 13: Exit Wounds
James Marsters a.k.a Captain John returns to Cardiff as point-guard for his master. Will Torchwood be enough to stand in his way, but what secrets has John yet to revel? And what will it cost the team to stop him this time? What of the 7 remaining Time Agents? What of Jack's long lost brother? No, seriously.
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