This morning your favourite gang of polysexual heroes (that’s me, Nick, Rich and freelance scum Steve O’Brien) headed down to London for the press screening of the first episode of Torchwood season two: “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang” by Chris Chibnall.
Was it any good? Well, it’s probably the best episode so far (we only say “probably” cos we really liked “Out of Time” from last year, which was good but in a totally different way).
Now, we know what some of you are going to say: “Pah, but you’re just a bunch of shameless Torchwood apologists, aren’t you? You’d say that anyway! Grumble mumble Russell T Davies grumble mumble”. Hush now. Here’s the important thing for you cynics to note: “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang” (a very aptly-titled episode) gives every indication that the production team have identified all of the failings that turned many SF fans against the show, and have fixed them.
What follows is free of major spoilers, and couched in the vaguest terms we could manage, okay?
The first thing that we’ve got to tell you is that “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang” is funny - really funny. It had an audience of jaded media hacks guffawing with delight for 50 minutes. Some of the choicest humour is self-deprecating, with the programme subtly acknowledging its absurdities; there are delicious one-liners referencing Torchwood’s status as “the world’s least secret secret organisation”, and Jack’s penchant for standing around on the edge of rooftops... The opening scene (which involves a fish...) is hilariously outlandish, and there’s also a lovely gag which Star Wars fans will appreciate. Russell T Davies said he wanted season two to have more fun, and they’ve delivered it in spades.
Much of the humour comes in the form of banter between the members of Torchwood (that's banter, not jibes or pot-shots) which also helps to create a real sense that the team have affection for one other, and are a closely-knit unit. It seems that the in-fighting of season one is over. What's more all the characters come across as likeable (yes, even Owen, who looks to have put the sleazy womanising behind him) and capable. If they’re beaten, it’s not because of incompetence, but because they’re up against someone really formidable...
This episode’s guest star is James Marsters, whose role is every bit as cool as Spike in Buffy. Playing a guy who shares a very intimate history with Jack, he brings a cool, amoral swagger to the show.
Further bullet points:
* There’s workplace romance budding, on more than one front...
* A name is mentioned that obviously means a lot to Jack... but we don’t learn why. We suspect this will turn out to be very important later on in the series.
* The swear count was low – we counted just two swearwords.
* The stopwatch is back, back, back!
Jam-packed with laughs, action and sex appeal, this episode is free of jarring gear changes, shudder-inducing sex talk or gaping plotholes, and sees Torchwood realising its potential. It still won’t be to everyone’s taste, of course – it's light-years from hard SF, and some will find it just too irreverent and populist, or just too damn horny. But if you’re a fan of shows like Buffy, Angel and Doctor Who, we’re confident you’re going to love it. So: even if you were one of those disappointed by season one, we recommend you tune in when it returns to BBC Two in mid-January, and give it another try.