Archive for the ‘British cult sci-fi’ Category

Bedlam – a surprisingly good and creepy little drama from Sky living UK

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I only just got round to watching this series and like many British shows it was only 6 eps so finished it in 2 evenings. I remembered the trailers when they were on and how creepy and inviting they looked, truly gripped my interest and were very well made so it’s good to finally see if the show lived up to the imagery of the trailers. This series joins my collection of creepy supernatural shows like American Horror Story as I love relocating the haunting genre to families and social groups and seeing the worlds of supernatural versus insanity and thrillers verses normal human lives combine. As also a brit i love british dramas and this one is as good as some of the other supernatural shows I’ve watched over the years such as Being Human and Hex. The series focuses on an upscale apartment block called ‘Bedlam Heights’, renovated from the structure of an abandoned mental asylum, and the strange hauntings that occur there. New arrival Jed Harper (Theo James) possesses the ability to see the ghosts, which are generally not visible to others, and receives visions of their deaths. The hauntings are generally malevolent, and it is up to Jed to determine the spirits’ motives and thwart their goals. His flatmates are his cousin, Kate (Charlotte Salt), who manages the complex; Ryan (Will Young) who is troubled by the recent violent death of his brother; and Molly (Ashley Madekwe), a childhood friend of Kate and Jed.
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The show was better than I thought it would be didn’t think 6 eps was enough to flesh out the characters and the world they inhabit but by the end of the first ep you know your character types and motives. Jed is a reluctant hero type plagued by his demons and life spent in and out of mental asylums because of people not believing in his ability to see ghosts. He’s all broody most of the time and every time he gets a chance to step into the light and have a better life something conspires against him to make him miserable again. The show does at least try to find ways to show underneath his sadness and loneliness he is a good kind man that actually cares greatly for people and if it wasn’t for his fate as a ghost seeing mystery solving outcast he would have been a regular fun guy. The only thing I didn’t like about the characters is that they could never make up their mind who they fancied or liked, I’m not a romantic so nothing bores me more than love interests and love triangles when there are much more interesting things going on like dead people stalking you. So the fact that every episode someone would fancy someone else and in the case of Ryan’s character couldn’t decide if he was gay or straight did get on my nerves. As for the 2 girls Molly is a pleasant girl and I feel bad for the way she is sometimes treated and by the end I understand why she left the way she did I would have to get out of a place like that. As for Kate I hated her she’s the kind of girl I just can’t stand, playing men for her own gain, vain and selfish there is little to like about her and I found it hard to feel sorry for her when she was getting haunted and plagued by horrible visions and nightmares.
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But away from the characters the show has a good atmosphere and it mixes traditional supernatural story telling with modern young adults just trying to live their lives. Another extra idea in the mix is that by living in a converted asylum are the people themselves being infected by the madness that once ran rampant here. Kate’s dreams and visions put her more and more on edge that you could question her own sanity, does insanity breed insanity, is it the environment that changes a person and inspires dark acts or was it always in the nature of that person to lose touch and do evil acts. This is reflected as you find out more about the background of the asylum and its inmates some of the original occupants where put in their not because they truly deserved to be but because it was convenient to those who they had offended. For example a serving girl who got pregnant by her master, instead of owning up to the affair has her thrown into Bedlam to have the baby causing her to go mad with grief and then she is lobotomised to silence her covering up the conspiracy. It isn’t surprising Bedlam has so many angry ghosts and it defiantly holds with the lore that those that die violent and unfulfilled deaths are imprisoned on earth not allowed to move on till they find justice or a conclusion that makes them satisfied. The ghosts of Bedlam are more than restless they are full of hate and evil now that their cells are the homes of happy families, couples and people they want to make sure these inhabitants feel the pain and sorrow they feel.
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The series is stylishly done though as a horror nerd it wasn’t creepy enough to scare me but it has great potential to actually be very scary. The ghosts fade in and out, watch from secluded corners and stalk characters vigorously. The ghosts leave creepy messages sketched onto walls, petals scattered on floors and horrific drawings on children’s bedrooms. The show is well filmed part surreal in its imagery and harsh in it open portrayal of hauntings, Jed’s visions are chaotic and violent, Kate’s dreams bright and harsh but terrifying. The show had a decent budget behind it so it looks realistic and a very artistic side as well, Kate drowning in the bath tub sinking further into an abyss, a dark pool of water waiting for someone to break the surface and reach far enough inside to reach her. This also reflects her as a character, her shell of vanity and cruelty hides the fact she is lost and scarred, living up to the pressures of her father, scarred of her feelings and not wanting to get close to people causing her to drown in her own self-imposed pit. Kate’s dreams are one of the most disturbing scenes of the series, she is lost and alone wearing nothing but her nightdress, running the corridors of Bedlam that she should know but somehow are unfamiliar to her and are cold and empty. These scenes are filmed very brightly and slowly she realised she’s not alone but a body of a woman wearing a cloth bag over her head is lying in wait for her causing her more grief and unsettling us in these surreal images.
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It is a shame that after 6 eps the series wasn’t renewed as there was so much more to tell and the story was not finished but for a good little supernatural series this is very much worth it.

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Torchwood Miracle Day – oh how Torchwood has evolved!!!

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Ok so this review is long overdue but since the DVD just came out and I just came back from the Hub convention I feel inspired to write about my beloved series.

So after reviewing Children of Earth I was so torn on whether I could handle more Torchwood.
http://www.lzsy.co.uk/2009/10/torchwood-children-of-the-earth-a-critic-and-a-fans-review/
Then I did in fact watch the new series and ended up loving the first ep.
http://www.lzsy.co.uk/2011/07/torchwood-miracle-day-–-an-early-review-because-i-can’t-help-myself-it’s-my-biggest-fandom-and-i-love-john-barrowman/

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Ok so there’s no point reinstate things we know by now that in my head there are 2 torchwoods and the show has now evolved into a new animal and therefore must be taken as this. But I have to say I loved the series because it did what I love most in television and use the medium of science-fiction/horror to express a social commentary on how as a race we aren’t so heroic and that when faced with great danger it brings out the worse in a lot of us. Take falling Skies I didn’t like it because it played it safe, no grey area, no exploiting the darkness in the human heart and every character was so clichéd. This is why as sci-fi Miracle day kicks Falling Skies arse. I loved the social commentary the show of human weakness and characters that don’t fit the mould. God so much to say about how this show has evolved. But let’s start with the basic plot that no one can die and how it affects the whole world throwing the planet into a situation they have no control over.

When nobody dies, hospitals fill up, supplies run low, laws have to be re-thought and people’s religions fall apart. All these things are addressed and I was so surprised by how in depth these issues were focused on this series really brought a serious social concern to light, overpopulation and the strain on our resources. We saw that laws had to change Murder no longer exists but this can breed a whole new way to torture and kill knowing your victims won’t die. How do you cope with hospital cases, who has top priority, what about coma patients, the terminally ill, those in accidents so horrific they’ll never be the same again, what is the policy for giving out drugs, how do you control the spread of disease. So many brilliant ideas all explored and that just one area of a problem likes nobody dying. How about the prison system, those with life sentences, those on death row how do you deal with crime when the punishment can be forever. Overpopulation is no one dies what about housing, nursing homes, people are still aging what kind of long term care is there, how do we feed all these people, would the poverty line drop again and what is the financial implications of all this. Then there’s problem of religion and soul, what direction will faith go in when you live in a world without death or where you should have died and your still alive, do you have the right to still live, what are you living for and if the medical is reversed what state would you be returned to. Who would have thought a series that homage classic horror and had episodes about alien sex gas possessing people would have turned into a series that asked such harsh and intense questions.

What makes Torchwood’s evolution so amazing is while all this larger picture issues are being explored its still Torchwood; Jack will always be Jack with his larger than life personality, his heroics, his quiet vulnerability that he doesn’t show to anyone, his lust for life and desire to protect humanity no matter what it has thrown at him. Gwen has evolved the most to a person who is focused and determined she has her own problems torn between the needs of her family and the bigger picture of protecting the world. She is a wife and mother and her duty love and care lies with them, we see that if it came down to it she would even kill Jack if it meant saving her family but she also is a hero she feels that need and duty to protect those innocent and in need of help. Her and Jack’s relationship has also matured, there is a deep love and bond stronger than any bond 2 people can have, but it’s not romantic it is beyond that, it is beyond the hero worship, respect and devotion and now its 2 people that understand the path they have chosen and a shared sense of duty. They need each other; they support each other but also hate each other and the sides they bring out of each other that no one else will see. Jack make Gwen reckless inspires her to fight for her beliefs and cross a line that she doesn’t want, Gwen makes Jack question his humanity, exposes his vulnerability and pushes him to make the right choices. Gwen dislikes the fact that sometimes jack is the only person ready to cross that line to get the results and she lets him, she can’t do that last bit and the guilt she feels is visible. Gwen is ready to let Jack shoulder the guilt and responsibility and live with the consequences and I feel sometimes Jack is jealous that she still has that freedom and a place to return to, a family and a life jack will never know. Jack envies the life Gwen can have and he feels bad that he needs their connection and is ready to pull her into his world even though he knows she’d be better without that life he needs her. But when it comes to it they would kill for each other and even more importantly kill each other if it meant saving the life they have made for themselves. They are both desperate to protect their life, their purpose and their humanity and if one threatened the other they would end that person’s life.
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I do love how dark this series got and it really exposed the monsters that lurked inside humanity, the depths we go to and the decisions we make when in desperate situations. We wouldn’t all come together and make nice, our governments would make harsh decisions for us and we would even know half of what was happening. The camps were a brilliant idea at first just a place to send all those that were alive but in no state of living and the even worse category 1, coma victims and terminally ill being burnt alive because there isn’t space or anything that can be done for them. It was so harsh and moving, Gwen’s struggle with her dad broke my heart. Desperate to keep him with her but knowing that he was going to die, not wanting unseen forces making the decision of when he should die but allowing the family the time to come to terms with this heart breaking situation. Who really has the right to say when someone is dead and gone, what makes governments think they can play god and that they have the right to reject the emotions and wishes of families and loved ones.
The series continues to expose man’s greed, desire and turmoil. Especially in characters like Oswald Danes, where would a death row paedophile becomes a spokesperson for the forgotten, loved by people for being able to say what everyone else is thinking? He wants to preserve his life so badly he’ll do anything but at the same time he is a dark and twisted person. He feels no remorse for what he’s done, even in his dying moments to the last breath he feels no regret for his crimes, he relishes in his twisted being and his dark path. He is a truly brilliant character ready to stand up and say that people aren’t being treated fairly in this new world, riding his publicity train to fan and using the system to ensure he continues to live and then even when he decides to die for the cause he doesn’t ask for forgiveness no he is the monster to the end.
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So much great plotting and characters make up this dysfunctional and dangerous world and then we have the actual alien element. This I must say got a bit confusing; there is a shaft that runs from Buenos Aires to Shanghai that somehow affected the whole world through a field and jacks blood. So ok some of it got a bit weird, it’s all connected to a beautiful love story from jack past, a secret family organisation that took jacks blood and tried to find the secret of immortality and ended up reorganising the shape of the world. The thing that interested me was the fact that unless you saw the Christmas special of Doctor Who ‘The Runaway Bride’ you would have missed something important. Jack say’s the Doctor told him about a legend about the world being formed around the spine of a ship, which we know is the Racnoss ship. So somehow the Christmas special also ties into Miracle day but I don’t mind I like my DW references and reminders the shows are still linked.

I’m not going to go too much into the plot just go watch the series and discover all the great plotting, character developments and how far this series has come. The one thing I will talk about is Jack’s love life in this series and how people got all offended. So in one ep we get like a 1 minute sex scene where jack decides to have some fun with a barman, and why not he’s human and horny and Captain Jack Harkness, the scene is brief and at the same time Rex and Vera are having their own very strait sex scene. Why this caused controversy I have no idea one gay sex scene and one hetro, both got equal screen time both just not really explicit, both showing that the characters have these needs and feeling and that we are watching a show for adults. I hate it when people start complaining that they don’t want their children watching gay sex scenes, their children shouldn’t be watching Torchwood at all its for adult. Ever since DW we’ve known Jack in omisexual, and after three seasons and the development of his relationship with Ianto we know he’s been in gay relationships so why so shocked that he sleeps with a barman. It’s stupid that it got cut from the UK version for not having plot relevance, there are about a million shows and movies that have pointless striate sex scenes and no one complains, I for one am sick of watching those scenes they do nothing for the plot. I totally reject the whole hetro monogamous couple its boring to watch, I can be in those relationships I want to see something I can’t be a part of and relationship that is beyond me and far more interesting. Plus gay sex is hotter to watch!!! So this lead onto a very important episode which introduces Angelo, Jacks lover from the past and a relationship that put in the foundations that allowed jack to later learn to let someone in and love, there would have been no jack and Ianto if jack hadn’t had this earlier relationship. Also there would have been no Miracle if not for Angelo and how this relationship literally tore Jack apart allowing his ability to be exposed to people that want to use it for their own good. But plot aside people started complaining about the gay agenda, it was one ep with one sex scene and it detailed a beautiful and important relationship. It was another world and place where homosexuality was so much more difficult, we saw another side of jack and what was missing from his life and we saw that sometimes love isn’t enough. I am so sick of putting in a relationship just to keep strait people happy, why shouldn’t there be beautiful gay relationships, why shouldn’t I be allowed to watch 2 beautiful men fall in love and make love, we live in a modern world and therefor people should be more open with the nature of modern desire.
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Well I’ve talked a lot more about the social and cultural importance of this series but it really is great and I’m waiting for my box set to arrive and watch it again.
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Torchwood Miracle Day – an early review because I can’t help myself it’s my biggest fandom and I love John Barrowman!!!!

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Now I know that I usual wait to the end of a show to review it as then I can rant about everything plus spoil it rotten but I just have to give me first impressions of the new torchwood. It will be interesting to see what kind of review I’ll give at the end of the series. So before Miracle Day I listened to the radio plays, first 2 were ok was nice to have some old school stories but god did it make me sad about Ianto. Now I loved Ianto so I was excited at first to have some more episodes even just audio ones with him in it now that I was out of Torchwood books to read. When it came down to it having Ianto back just made me realise how much I missed him and wished he hadn’t died reminding me what the fandom had lost. Now the 3rd radio play, my god did it break my heart. At first it was all yay Jack and Ianto together solving a case until that mega twist of doom!!!!! House of Ghosts was so brilliant for that and heart breaking. What can you say as a Janto fangirl when confronted with the wonderful plot of Jack missing Ianto so much he goes to see his ghost? Ianto as a ghost, the one person in all of Jacks life, with all his loves and loss he wants to see again. That alone spoke volumes to us of how much Ianto meant to Jack.
The whole thing was torturous; they fought beautifully, the combination of Jack’s own selfishness combined with desperation to see Ianto again. Ianto so in love with Jack but appalled by Jacks actions while also coming to terms with what that means and how strongly jack does love him and that they have to be separated again. Even just as voices the pain of finding and losing each other came across through fantastic acting. Jack willing to give up life rather than be without Ianto, his world being empty and just not willing to continue, Ianto convincing him to give up the fight let someone else deal with it so they could have a chance just for it to be a rouse because he doesn’t want Jack to die. How many times can I say heart-breaking but it was and then Janto fangirls around the world rejoiced for Jack told Ianto “I Love You”? There’s no implications, no doubt no room for denial Jack loves Ianto and it’s Ianto he wants to see at the end of it all!!! I like to believe that when Jack does finally die it will be Ianto he meets again in the afterlife and Ianto will be waiting for him probably with a strong cup of coffee in hand.
This finale radio play gave me a lot of closure because I finally got the confession they never gave us in COE and it allowed me to go into Miracle Day knowing that no matter what Jack does his love for Ianto was real and when it’s said and done they will find each other in the afterlife. So I was very happy to accept Jack in Miracle day understanding that he may be depressed and isolated but Ianto gave him a chance to live again and he has a duty not to waist his life but live to protect and be Captain Jack Harkness in all his glory saving the human race and making a difference, his journey isn’t over and if we believe in Doctor Who he has to become the Face of Boe and live a very long life as Earths observer, saviour, protector and make the great sacrifice before he can die.

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So Miracle day, I was rather excited I was so ready for the return of Captain Jack Harkness to my screen and the trailers looked good and the reviews had been good. I have decided to be good and watch it on the BBC rather than get it from the states as I want to make sure it gets the ratings to prove how well it’s doing. So here’s where I stand on TMD and the TW fandom. Its kinda like 2 different series really you could almost say there set in two different realities. TW series 1 and 2 was cheesy, fun and silly, it had its darkness and angst but it wasn’t too harsh in my opinion plus it followed the weekly formula so wasn’t as epic. Now I loved TW that way, I mean all it needed was jack running around and I would love it as John Barrowman can do no wrong. Though I also loved Ianto and it was his and Jacks relationship that interested me the most. I wanted more than the plot and storylines to see the two of them interact and for Ianto to deliver his brilliant one liners. There were brilliant episodes that could carry themselves based on the great writing then there were episodes I liked less for the plot and more for the amount Janto scenes in them.
Now there are two types of shows I like, shows that aren’t the best dramatically but have an awesome slash pairing that blinds me to any of the shows weaknesses and then there are shows so good dramatically that I don’t care that there isn’t a slash paring in them for me to focus on. Good examples of these are Merlin, Hawaii 5.0 and Vampire Diaries for slash though I have to admit I love the first 2, VD even I have given up on. Then there are shows like Fringe, Xfiles and SGU which are just so good I don’t care that nobody is gay. Of course you get shows that fulfil both these criteria like Oz, Glee and Nip/Tuck but series 1 and 2 of TW was for me more about the slash than the plot a lot of the time. Don’t get me wrong TW is my top fandom and I would never let anyone say a bad thing about it because it was brilliant and great fun but lacked the intelligence of great sci-fi like Fringe or the gritty harsh reality of Oz and the extreme dramatic tension and killer style of SGU. But then things shifted in COE which I did a review on back when it came out so I won’t go on about it again.

http://www.lzsy.co.uk/2009/10/torchwood-children-of-the-earth-a-critic-and-a-fans-review/
Now back then I had no intentions of re-joining the fandom but I couldn’t help myself!!! You see COE was a turning point making a new show out of the ashes of the old. Miracle Day has all the epic qualities of COE with the one on-going and intense plot line. With this new style of an epic plot comes far more dramatic tension and the writing has become another level. From the first ep we have a new Torchwood a show where the intelligence of the plot, dramatics and harsh reality become such a driving force that I’m hooked. I’m so intrigued and invested that I don’t miss the slash. TW has become a show like Fringe where my interest isn’t just focused on gay storylines and moments of slashability but truly interested in what’s gonna happen to these characters. Now being TW and having read spoilers and JB interviews I also know that we will still be getting the gay and I am very much looking forward to a bit of naked Jack and sexy times. Though I do wish Ianto had lived to this point but I have my knowledge of that no matter how much sex and boyfriends Jack has in life its Ianto he will return to and is waiting to see after his death. After all it’s not fair to ask Captain Jack Harkness, immortal 51st century omisexual time traveller to stay celibate for the next 6million years.

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As for all the other concerns I had about the show from ep one it doesn’t feel too American and it never can with brilliant lines from Kai Owen, how much love do I have for Rhys and “Captain Jack Bollocks”. Also Gwen has matured so much and with her love for Rhys and their child she is no longer the character I felt was a threat to my Janto pairing but honestly a strong women who is very close to Jack and they make a strong team. I loved Gwen in the first episode, baby ear muff shooting down helicopters was just awesome and I very much hope we see more of the kick arse side of Gwen. Yes I know a lot more of the show will be in America but you can take Gwen out of Wales but you can’t take the Welsh out of Gwen. Jack has always been timeless and impossible to place so he will just always be Jack wherever he is so I don’t fear for him apart from the not being immortal anymore. It’s a very interesting place to go dramatically and I hope they use it well but I will miss the ha ha I’m not dead even though you blew me up moments. I think a lot of the faith I have in this series comes from the fact it was co-produced with Starz and they gave me Spartacus: Blood and Sand which is one of the best shows on TV.
So I know they won’t dumb down the actions, violence or sex they now have the freedom to do. As for the other characters so far Rex seems interesting so concerned with his own goals and advancements he doesn’t mind who gets hurt because of his ambition. He’s going to be a disliked character at first but I think he has a journey to go on so not going to paint him as a bad guy yet just a guy whose priorities need work and is going to make some bad decisions even though he thinks he is doing the right thing. Ester is our other main character who is just the American answer to Gwen series 1, she’s the character that comes in and introduces the American audience to TW. She seems nice and because she is clearly in love with Rex she’s not a threat as a potential Jack love interest but she will also probably grow and have a similar journey to early Gwen. The other character I’m intrigued by is Bill Pullmans paedophile murderer, a brave and bold choice for a character who looks like he has some major weight in the overall plot. I do love a villain that is charming and ruthless and you don’t know exactly where you stand with him so I’m very interested to see his journey as I’m sure nothing in this series is going to be black and white.

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That’s its so far the series has dramatic weight, tension, epicness, global appeal as well as that home grown feeling, interesting characters, great action and one liners and I for one can’t wait to see where this series is going to go.

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Casanova – Tennant’s infamous lover with heart!

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So when I first heard of David Tennant as Casanova I was already watching him as Doctor Who and hadn’t had a chance to see his previous collaboration with Russell T Davies. Now I finally have I must admit I was surprised by how much I liked it. As a notorious slash fan a show about a man seducing countless women and having a lot of strait sex doesn’t sound like my cup of tea. Also the fact that while I think David Tennant is a fantastic actor and he is attractive but more so because of that insane vibe you sometimes get form the Doctor I do find him a bit too skinny to really make me think of him as the ultimate sexual predator. But here is where this series of Casanova did grab me so well. While Casanova is a bit of a sex fiend sleeping with countless women he has a heart he isn’t some lothario that only uses women for sex, he does in his own way love each women he sleeps with, as he says himself, “they are not just notches on a bed post”. Giving real heart to the character makes this a far more emotional and beautiful drama to watch. Casanova learns very early on that you have to listen to the needs and views of women, respect them and they will open up to you in ways most men will never understand or have the pleasure of witnessing. Casanova listens to these women gives them what they want, it’s not just a series of meaningless encounters it’s a mutual thing for both parties involved in these escapades. The other beautiful aspect of the character is the way he also somehow retains his innocence. All through his adventures there is still a naïve quality, a child like wonder to the world and the people he encounters, he is a boy playing a very adult game and while he knows what he’s doing he still acts like a child on occasions. He is still able to see the world with that childlike innocence so many adults lose when they grow older, to be able to enjoy his life without the added pressures most succumb to in adult society. It’s this quality that makes him a likable rogue rather than just a pervert or womaniser he could have so easily been.

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While Casanova goes through his life his brilliance and ingenuity getting him in and out of every situation there are some constants, his faithful companion Rocco, always by his side trying to be his conscious or the voice of reason at his wild schemes and his one true love Henrietta, the only women he can never have. From the moment we meet Henrietta she is already engaged to Grimani, who has a title and money. Casanova at every step of the way is denied her by these obstacles as well as Grimani himself, who is always there to seek his revenge on Casanova taking the heart of his love. The series itself weaves a few story lines together; there is Casanova and Henrietta’s doomed relationship, getting close to each other finding their happiness only to be torn apart. There is also Casanova’s own adventures through Europe trying to stay a step ahead of the law, the schemes he hatches, the situations he finds himself and the relationships he forms with other people along the way. Lastly there is also the story of what happens to people that lose their innocence, when society becomes ruled by the rich with more money than sense, when people are corrupted by their own passions and indulgencies, lastly what happens when you have gained everything you think you truly desire. This last plot is at the heart of Casanova and is seen in the various courts he visits and the transformation of his son who he is united with after he escapes jail for fraud in Vienna.
We know that Casanova has great capacity for love and is not just a womaniser because of his relationship with one Bellino, a talented singer who is also a male castrato. Casanova is beginning to have feelings for Bellino but is so torn by the fact that he is a boy. This relationship is what makes us endeared to Casanova, he is capable of true feeling, he is not just using women and he does understand love. We know this because he finally goes to Bellino, say he loves him and is willing to break the law (homosexuality was illegal in this time) and be with him. Bellino so touched and happy about this finally reveals that he is in fact a women in disguise ( I wont spoil the ingenious little way he reveals himself its too funny a scene to spoil) and the two of them finally form a relationship with Casanova proposing. Next for them is to reveal Bellino the female singer to the world and announce their engagement and it is at the party that Bellino notices the friendship between her future husband and the engaged Henrietta. Bellino is a smart and capable woman she knows that with her career now taking full shape that her and Casanova’s life will be full of concerts and travels, Casanova will be a kept man living in her shadow and not the brilliant free spirit he is now. She recognises the love and friendship between the two denied lovers and decides that Casanova would be better of in Vienna with Henrietta so points them in the right direction. All seems good Bellino goes off to her fame, Casanova and Henrietta admit their feelings and by a twist of luck Casanova saves a priest and becomes his adopted son gaining a title and money enough to propose to Henrietta. It could have been happy endings if not for Grimani and his accusations of fraud that land Casanova in jail and by escaping making him a wanted man and forever separated from Henrietta. This is where our next journey begins.
We are introduced to Jack, Casanova’s illegitimate son who will not utter a word and we take a tour of Europe in a search for a pardon so Casanova can return to Vienna. This journey is truly beautiful and fantastic because it explores each country though its Courts, the French court so decadent and risqué. This is right before the French Revolution and you can see why the poorer classes revolute against the aristocrats. These aristocrats are so indulgent with their lives, on the surface it looks like fun and games, beautiful clothes, parties and luxuries a plenty but we also see the dark seed in the joy that comes from the Parisian’s enjoyment of watching a man being tortured and killed in front of them as if it was a sport. It is also hear the seed of darkness is placed in Casanova’s son as he smiles as he watches the execution. We start to see that he may not have inherited his father’s innocence and good heart. The striking contrast between the French Court and the English Court is brilliant. In true British fashion and a small bit of stereotyping the English court is a far more sober affair, its tea and crumpets, there isn’t dancing and exuberant costumes, its proper and well mannered the most risqué someone is being is having lemon in their tea!! It’s all very British as you would expect at the time and it’s Casanova that brings his own bit of scandal to rock the boat. But Alas things don’t go as well and our travellers have to move on once more. We go through illness and death until we end up in Naples the city below a volcano and the shocking conclusion to where a life of sin without innocence, indulgence without consciousness, risk without consequence, sex without love and what happens when you have everything you want. By this time Jack is 20 and has apparently learnt much from his father about the seduction of women, but he has taken his fathers teaching but none of the heart, none of the gentle playfulness and childlike wonder. He knows how to get what he wants, how to indulge and seduce but not to respect and love, no Casanova has lost the fight to turn his son into a good man. Naples is a bed of sin, we learn that Bellino has settled here having attained everything she has every wanted as well as raising Casanova’s daughter. Casanova is not only shocked that she never spoke of their child but at the turn her life has taken, so happy to indulge in pure sin even at the risk of her own life (after all they are living at the foot of Pompeii. But worst of all Jack has taken a liking to his sister and when Casanova tries to stop this interlude Jack reveals he doesn’t care, after all this is what his father has taught him, to take what he wants. Finally Casanova is disgusted he sees what his life has done to his son, the man he has raised, all the things he never accomplished and the friends he has lost along the way. He finally decided to hide himself stop the running, stop the lifestyle and settle believing he has lost everything in his life.

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Casanova’s story is wonderful told by Peter O’Toole as and aging Casanova reliving the events through his stories being told to a young servant girl. She is us we love, we hate, we laugh and we cry just as she does. We wish for a happy ending even though we know there cannot be one but we want to go on the journey regardless. Apart from great acting and great story telling the thing that makes this production truly brilliant is the costumes. I have never seen such luxury and diversity in costumes. The colours are amazing, the designs unique and fantastical. Each court has a different look, rooms of twirling, colourful and ingenious costumes that are a true feast for the eyes. The production is pure magic, truly original and magnificent to behold that it really took my breath away each time we were introduced to a new setting. The costumes really brought out all the hidden depths and themes of each new place. Without words but with visuals alone you are able to see the truth behind each society and how it conducts itself. I truly recommend this wonderful drama for it really brings magic and heart, yet the nature of human want and need to us.

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Misfits – Superheroes with ASBO’s?

Misfits is one of the best new shows to have come out of British telly in years an absolute masterpiece. What makes this show so brilliant is how perfectly current and approachable it is. It deals with the kind of characters we are so very used to seeing and knowing, people we meet all the time that are part of our modern culture. Our main characters are a group of teens, the kind we are used to seeing, our social misfits, the chav’s, the socially awkward, the ones hiding behind false bravado, the ones that use there sex appeal to get what they want and the ones that could have done well if not for one mistake and the temptations offered to youth who succeed. Our 5 main protagonists are doing community service in London, we recognise the type as well as the location its familiar and real making it part of a world we know and understand. We the viewer can be a part of the drama because it is accessible showing us what our youth culture is like, how dissatisfaction in society has breed this new youth full of contempt, lacking in respect and as a result getting ASBO’s and serving community service. But of course there is more to each character, true feelings, issues and insecurities we are all familiar with, issues we may have been through ourselves and that also helps to make us part of the drama as we can understand some of the feelings of these characters. There is at least one character you can relate to in some way, for me it was Simon, anti social, awkward and desperate for people to pay attention to him, to be noticed to make friends. I myself went through this period in my life being the shy geek that found it hard to stand out and be heard let alone make friends and be accepted.

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Now here comes that magic of watching this well crafted show, we have our Misfits, our setting and our issues, our social commentary on today’s youth, now lets add super powers!! Yes Misfits is Britain’s answer to Heroes. But instead of making a highly expensive and glossy show with characters we can’t relate to struggling with issues beyond our comprehension and settings we will never know we make a gritty drama about teens with ASBO’s getting super powers. We bring the consequences of this to us instead of wrapping a story around conspiracies and the fight between good and evil, Misfits makes it simple. What would happen to a bunch of unfortunate teens that were in the wrong place at the wrong time (the story of their lives considering they’ve all got caught for breaking the law) and how gaining powers would affect them? These teens are not heroes, with great powers doesn’t come great responsibility instead it just helps to amplify their own problems. As each characters power awakens it helps to emphasise the problems they are having. It’s a great way to explore the insecurities of today’s dissatisfied youth and instead of the glamorous world of superheroes we get the very real world of how powers would affect real people. Their powers do more to hinder and isolate them, there is no great speech about what should they do, no one talks about using their powers to become vigilante super teens keeping the streets safe, after all their all doing time for their own crimes why should they be out there saving others when they couldn’t even save themselves.
Let take my favourite character to start, Simon, the creepy kid that tried to burn a house down. He has no friends, wishes nothing more to be noticed and is sick of being ignored so his power is invisibility. Now people literally can’t see him the more he is denied and ignored the more often he disappears from view. Then we have Kelly our loud mouth overly aggressive Chav, she got into a fight and has a rap for GBH. Why did she get into a fight, well she is so very opinionated always has something to say and is always worried what people are saying about her, if she thinks you’ve bad mouthed her she will turn her aggression on you so what could be worse for a girl so conscious of what others think well she can now hear peoples thoughts! Next is Alisha, attractive fun loving party girl Alisha she got caught drink driving, again. Well Alisha knows she’s attractive and men go gooey at the sight of her, she can use her sex appeal to get what she wants. But what happens if that sex appeal increases too much, well poor Alisha would give Rouge a run for worst ability. Every time she touches someone they are taken over with the mad desire to have sex with her normally so aggressive that they will try and rape her. So for a girl that uses sex appeal she can no longer touch anyone without them trying to rape her. We next come to Curtis, he had so much potential, was going to be an Olympic runner his future secured his life couldn’t be getting better; he had everything to gain and everything to lose. One mistake is all it took, one night out and being caught for possession of drugs, ruining his career and to set an example being charged community service. He wishes more than anything to change what he did to turn back time and re do that one night, well he get his wish, he is able to rewind time but unfortunately his control of his power isn’t that good and it happens at unpredictable intervals. Lastly we have Nathan, the boy with the mouth. He is facade wrapped in facades and false bravado, arrested for stealing pick ’n’ mix. What his true thoughts and feeling are we don’t know he is more lies and comebacks never sharing his true nature. He thinks about sex, plays practical jokes, insults everyone, takes nothing seriously and seems incapable of forming real connection even with his own family. So what’s his power well like us the viewer he doesn’t know, it’s not until the very end that we find out along with him but I’ll leave particular spoiler undisclosed.

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There are many things that make this series perfection, not just its fabulous way of marrying real drama with essential sci-fi. The series has great score using music to highlight the scenes and represent the characters and their emotions. The editing is modern and brilliantly ingenious. The production team on this show knew exactly when to cut, when to pan, when to use slow motion and to tilt a camera. The lighting is perfect and the style used of a gritty piece of realism makes it all that much better. It is filmed like a British drama it has a truly British feel, from the colour schemes of greys to the lack of spectacle of the powers. I for one now can’t wait for a second series as this truly is an original series, with its brilliant dialogue and great plotting and a fantastic take on the super heroes’ genre!

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Doctor Who – the last days of David Tenants Doctor

I have to admit that I am pretty devastated about the fact that Doctor Who has to continue without David Tenants Doctor he was brilliant and will be missed so much. We all knew it was coming but that still didn’t make it easier when the time came. We knew the significance of “he will knock 4 times and then you will die” but how it happened and the journey that would be taken was a mystery to us. I have to admit that I loved Waters of Mars; it had a great atmosphere and a much darker tone. I loved the way the series became that bit more adult in dealing with the issues that were plaguing the Doctor and his final adventures. Waters of Mars may have left a few plot holes like where the aliens came from, how they got into the ice and basically anything about the nature and background of this alien race. We assume that they saw Earth and all the water and decided that it was a much better planet for them and that’s why they went all evil and take overy. But what really impressed me about this episode is we saw where the Doctors character was heading and what he could become, a being like the Master. We saw the Doctor succumb to his ego, something he never would have if he had been with a companion. The loneliness and anger hidden by his determination and ego don’t balance anymore. For the first time we understand why this Doctors time may be coming to an end, he is turning into a person he never wanted to be so convinced of his own superiority he forgets why he respected humans and begins to think himself a God. This is the Time lords we see in the last episodes, the ones gone mad with power and delusion on their rights to this universe. The Doctor and the Master have never been so close and when the Doctor realizes it shock both him and us. If the Doctor doesn’t change he could develop into a man like the Master and as we saw in the final we see the Time Lords as they are now and how close the Doctor came to being just like them.

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So we enter the Christmas final with the knowledge that the Doctor will die and that he needs to be a new man in order to not be a man like the Master or the Time lords. So we have the return of the wonderful John Simm which is the best Xmas present. John Simms performance is nothing short of brilliant and the entire episode is carried on this brilliance. So you need to get over a few plot holes or plot lines that seemed a bit random. I mean what are the books of Saxon, how did that secret society remember the year that never was, where did the positions of life come from, who does Lucy have connection with that could make an antidote, how did the master manage to jump around like the Hulk in the first movie. I know he was burning off his own life force and all, which is what he was shooting out like lightning but still not sure how that made him super strong and on some kind of cocaine laced gummy berry juice. But alas the Doctor Master relationship was brilliant they way they interact and the Doctor desperate need to save him and maybe save himself. I love having tale from their youth, all the history these two have and how desperately the Doctor needs the master, likes he’s the only one who will understand him and complete him. But this relationship is doomed by the Masters madness and even though he has gone too far he know the Doctor will never betray him and uses this devotion to continue to commit his crimes. It’s almost like he is a misbehaving child purposely causing chaos to impress the Doctor. He wants the Doctor to see the mess he creates and try and stop him. Outwitting the Doctor is like a drug to him, he also needs the Doctor in his own twisted way, and one can’t be without the other. The final scenes of the episode made me a very happy girl; I mean how can you not smile when everyone in the world has become John Simm. Humanity never looked so attractive and John Simm played the many version of him wonderful, flowing with insanity and excitement. Russell T Davies is brilliant at penultimate episodes but unfortunately he never can conclude as well. He sets up so many brilliant plots and the mind overflows with ideas of what can happen but he fails to deliver all that is promised.

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The very last episode could have been so much more, it could have been beautiful. Of course Tennant, Simm and Cribbins were brilliant and at the centre of the story they were a delight to watch. The dramatic and character based scenes were fantastic and so emotional, they made me well up, which is what you get from having such great actors. However I hated the green aliens they were annoying and pointless. I couldn’t stand the females attitude like the Doctor was of no importance, she had no respect, and she didn’t get the gravity of the situation and just had a bad attitude and displeasing manner. I didn’t want to see the Doctor stuck on some ship I was hoping for some kind of Doctor Master working together to disrupt the threat of the Time Lords. The return of the Time Lords was brilliant and so was the idea of them placing the drum beat into the Masters head as a solution to their imprisonment and thus causing the Masters insanity. But it was a little lack lustre they kind of came through and then 10 mins later got sucked back in again, where were all the horrors of the time war, we hear about all these horrible things coming through with the Time Lords but without even seeing it the drama of how awful this is lost. You lose some of the danger and gravity of the situation when not being able to witness this great threat. I loved the speech between the Doctor and Master about how beautiful the Master could be and how he could just see the world not own it, the tears in the Masters eyes were so touching. Somewhere in the Master he too would like nothing much but to be with the Doctor but he’s gone too far and he knows it and the noise it control him too much and he cant fight it so he chooses to stand against the Doctor instead. By the final scene we see the Doctor hold a gun something that has never happened again a line even the Doctor has ever crossed, showing us how bad things have become. They are down to the final face off, The President or the Master and then the random shoot the box. I mean come one we have the dramatic choice to make, will the doctor shoot a person, who will he choose, will he choose the Master over humanity, will he sacrifice the Master, will he stand against the Time Lord race and condemn them. Oh no the Doctor will shoot a random box and that saves the world. Is it me or was that a little disappointing, did he really have to procrastinate so much about whether of not to shoot a box. At least the Masters final act was to save the Doctor and I am hoping the Master didn’t go back into the portal with the Time Lords because he is such an important part of Doctor Who law that he can’t be gone for good. Also on a side note anyone notice that the Presidents glove looked a lot like a Torchwood resurrection glove!

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We are now left with the upsetting death of the Doctor, Tenant does it so beautifully, he isn’t ready to go, there is more too him, more to be learnt and done. He feels so much pain and unfairity but alas “maybe a Time Lord lives to long!” His final act is to save Wilf, his final sacrifice such a small and touching thing one man of no real importance to humanity but to the Doctor an essential and human a good friend. I loved his reward being the people he has come across, going back to see Rose before he regenerate was touching. Though Mickey and Martha being married, how that happen, I mean what happened to Tom.  And again Donna has no memory of the Doctor which makes me sad but at least she has money cause that does apparently solve all your problems!! Also loved the little Star Wars cantina and Captain Jack scene. I loved this cameo, I liked it linked to the end of Torchwood, Jack not being on Earth and drowning his sorrows in a bar full of unsavory characters. The Doctors last act to him after all those “Stop it” was to get Jack a date and with Russell Tovey. I am a big fan of Being Human so that was great, now I am a huge Janto fan and the death of Ianto broke my heart and good do I wish Ianto could come back but Jack cant stay celibate he’s Captain Jack and sometimes a bit of comfort in all his unhappiness should be allowed so I am pleased he got a date. In all I did really love the ending even with some of the strange plot twists but I’m not sure about the new Doctor. I will give him the benefit of the doubt until I see him in action but at the moment he just seems too young and has too much face!!!!

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Torchwood Children of the Earth – a critic and a fan’s review

children of earthOk I have two different opinions of this show as it really separated me as a critic and as a fan. So there will be two quite different reviews the first one as a critic that end with a bit BUT as the fan girl in me has her say.

If you take this drama on its own as a piece of event television then it’s absolutely brilliant. I was in all a great mini series and I did love it. It had a great story, it was well acted, great action, suspense and tension, and it was well paced, edited and scored. Every episode had me glued to the screen and every cliff-hanger had me wishing the next day away so I could see what happened. It was a much more mature take on the Torchwood universe with a much stronger, more developed and intense story to tell. The acting was great from all the cast and the range of emotion within it were brilliant. From the first episode that showed us how our team have grown together how there relationships have changed and evolved. It was great to see Jack and Ianto out and open about their relationship and the most amazing moment to have Ianto say, “its not men it’s just him”. This is a view I love when it comes to love, the idea that its not what sex a person is, its not about being gay or straight its just about love and Ianto was in love with Jack, jack the person he is now. It was a great big leap forward for a mainstream highly successful and publicised show to have that wonderful moment about love transcending gender issues. I am very pleased with the evolution of Gwen she has matured a lot and has truly rooted her heart, she loves Rhys and Jack is her best friend. I was surprised with some of Jacks death scenes they really found new ways to give him some of the most painful and horrific deaths, not to mention amazing makeup when bringing him back from the belly bomb, that was amazingly done. I loved seeing Jacks dark side but inner sadness being explored and then finally coming to terms with what he has to do to save the world. I though Ianto’s death scene was beautiful and so heart breaking, he loves Jack with everything he’s got and although jack didn’t say it back I think that makes sense for Jack character. However Jacks desperate please, his begging to have everything taken back so Ianto will survive, to the very last minute before his own death begging Ianto not to leave him was so powerful. How can you doubt Jacks feelings for Ianto when he himself can’t believe Ianto will leave him?

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I was also pleased that we never really fully saw the 456 they where clouded in mystery which was good you don’t want to see a big Doctor Who villain you want to keep the fear going a little longer. The scene were our government sells us it was brilliant the idea that they would go to war with their own people to save them. Discussing how to achieve the 10% really addressing the issue with the seriousness and focus of government. It was well played out and although you hated them for their choices I like the fact that they really did try and think about the choices and what was best for the country in terms of continuing the human race. It was an intelligent and harsh truth and they all acted it so well. When finally the revelation about what the children were being used for came it was one of the biggest and best shocks. They didn’t go with any of the obvious like they need them to survive no the truth of the matter was so horrific in light of the sacrifices the government where going to make to get them the children. I loved the idea that the aliens were simply junkies, there was no intelligent thought behind there actions, this was not a desperate act to continue to survive they just liked the high they got off feeding off the children. The vomiting and thrashing about was all because they were on a huge come down and needed another fix and their drug of choice was earth’s children. What a brilliant and harsh topic just a wonderful plot twist. By the final episode Jack has been so crushed that he has become a cold and distant man, in that light without Ianto’s death he wouldn’t have been the cold and desperate person he needed to be to sacrifice his own grandchild. That was another great twist but it was very painful and you could see Jacks last bit of humanity as well as any love he had left for humanity and Earth die alone with his Grandson. It was a big move to kill a child and something only Jack could have done now that he has started to distance himself from humanity. Poor jack was left so hurt and broken by the end that it makes sense for him to want to escape this planet. He has lost everything after Ianto his grandson was his last link to this world and what it meant to be human, as he said himself about Gwen “I cant look at her anymore” so it make sense that he cant stay for her she has her own life and cannot offer him anything to make him stay. It was a heart breaking ending to a very well done series, and here it comes the BUT….

I am and I am very proud to be a fan girl which is why this series has confused me greatly. My head tells me I loved it but my Heart tells me I hated it. It is very strange to love and hate something at the same time but Torchwood has done just that. CoE doesn’t seem to fit so well with the rest of the Torchwood universe there’s a lot left unresolved and I think it went too far with the death and darkness and destruction of our hero’s soul. I am not sure how another series can be made after all there’s no SUV, Hub, Gwen’s having a baby (she cant really return to Torchwood with a kid at home), Ianto is dead and Jack is so destroyed he’s run away from the Earth. Does that mean an entire new cast if the show returns it wont be the same without Jack and Ianto or in fact the wonderful word of Janto. There are all these little plot holes I cant seem to fill, if the Hub is destroyed so is the rift machine so why isn’t it spitting out aliens by the truck load. Cardiff should being going crazy no the rift is unprotected and free to do as it pleases. Also how much of the Hub got destroyed, what about the archives and the morgue is it safe to assume that Gray is dead or will he wake up now that the power keeping him in status is gone and be after revenge, if not a bit confused, on Jack. What about other characters isn’t Sarah Jane still about with her super computer wouldn’t they have tried to get in touch with Jack and also Captain John Hart is still roaming about the Earth somewhere, what does he make of all this does he know Jacks left. I have two other big problems with the series and I’m saving the obvious for last. The other problem is what I always thought was the plot of Torchwood. “The 21st century is when everything changes and Torchwood is ready” um is it me or did CoE forget this. I mean for a start it wasn’t said at the beginning of any episodes so are we meant to believe this threat, the 456 are what’s responsible for changing everything. If so how come Jack didn’t know this, he keeps saying it will all change and their ready but they certainly were ready for the 456. So let’s assume Jack doesn’t know what the actual event that changes everything is, how would he know that Torchwood is ready. In fragments we get Jack coming back to the Hub after new years to dead colleges and the man responsible for there deaths telling us he’s seen what’s coming and its so horrific he kills everyone and himself. So did he see the 456, I know they were awful but really would you kill yourself because aliens are coming for your children or would you use that information to tell someone. Maybe before he died he could have said “jack you know when you gave 12 children away in 1965, well its going to come back and bite you in the arse so maybe we should try and find away to not repeat that mistake”. I mean if he knew what was going to happen maybe inform UNIT, the government, Jack and well started working on detecting their arrival or prevention or something it didn’t quite fit.

Now the final big hit in the face is of course the death of Ianto, I mean did they really have to come on talk about a punch in the gut to all us Janto fans. I was rather mad about this part of the story the fan girl in me has been angry ever since. This really is the biggest mistake in TV history I’m so angry with my fandom I have to shout to as many people as will listen. How could they kill Ianto, him and Jack being together was my favourite thing about the show and this has just broke my heart but worse than that I am full of hate and anger. I loved watching their relationship develop and having it be there for all to see. I am just so angry, does RTD understand what he’s done, and does he realize how much the fans are going to hate him. They have ruined Torchwood without Ianto and Jack/Ianto it’s just not the same show I fell in love with. For the first time ever we had a hero in a gay relationship saving the world a first and a landmark for slash fandom and they repay us fans by ruining our biggest love. I don’t want a season 4 not without Janto. I hate RTD and I feel they have betrayed slash fans as well as gay fans and killed a great fandom. I was so full of hope for having a gay couple not stuck in stereotypes, it was about love plain and simple and it meant a lot to us fans for once it wasn’t us reading what we wanted into the scenes we had real proof that a relationship was growing and then it was there for us all to see and it was amazing. But as soon as it was given it was taken away. I feel like slash fans have just moved back 10 paces and gay fans have been put back into the closet. I’m not sure another show will be brave enough to have this kind of relationship in it and it’s a great loss. I loved Ianto’s character and a show without him seems impossible. I don’t think I could watch a series 4 without him even if they did somehow manage to get Jack back. By the end of the series Jack was left so heart broken and desolate and that’s not what I wanted to see, I think as a fan from the beginning in went too far and was no longer the show I loved. I liked it better when it was 13 episodes and it was fun and free. I will surly miss this fandom and as a long term fan I just wish there had been some consideration to how we would have felt about what they ended up doing to characters we loved so much.

Links:

Official BBC site http://www.bbc.co.uk/torchwood/

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