The Duchess: Like good manners and toothache we persist.
(Originally broadcast 02 July 2009 – available as a BBC Podcast download and on iPlayer as described at this link e.g. click here.)
Steampunk Torchwood! The best thing about Torchwood: To the Last Man – the Steampunk Torchwood pre-credits (before it all went pear-shaped) – I really enjoyed Torchwood: Fragments, a large part of that was because of the steampunk Torchwood of 1899.
How far does the “steampunk” era extend beyond the Victorian age though? Is the Torchwood of India 1924 really “steampunk”? Perhaps not – one thing for sure though – that episode was brilliant.
Funny: there were so many great lines (e.g. You’re no longer human. Yes, but we’re still British.) Atmospheric: partly from the sound design, partly from the excellent script which really painted a picture of Torchwood India, where the sun had never set on the Empire. Literally.
Torchwood India – set up by Queen Vic as the outpost in India for Torchwood – this was a fantastic piece of worldbuilding, in the tradition of the eps I mentioned and also Doctor Who: Army of Ghosts. The ideas of that DW episode, which featured Torchwood as a kind of British Musuem for alien artefacts, were built upon and added to here. I enjoyed the shout-out to the Yetis of the Troughton era (a mention of an artefact from the Himalayas.)
Jasmine Hyde as The Duchess (Elanor) was superb – though she had some great lines to work with. As this particular Torchwood’s equivalent of Jack she was intriguing. I enjoyed the idea that the “front” of the gentleman’s club had actually become the reality for this Torchwood base – with colonels in sedan chairs. There were so many ideas and allegories (more subtle than the previous play) packed into 45 minutes, the shorthand sterotypes to sketch out a world (such as the colonels) were understandable, though The Duchess had real depth as a character thanks to Jasmine Hyde.
This was Torchwood as it is sometimes but rarely on television – great sparky dialogue, great metaphors woven into the plot, great drama.
Quantity-ratings (click here for guide to rating system):
Episode Quality-rating: 5/5