I loved the first five, six episodes and then it kinda went downhill a bit, picked up with the premiere of series two, and then had a few great episodes, the rest okay to good. And it was frustrating at times watching because there's a GREAT show struggling to get out, but it's hampered by sloppiness. It's very obvious that while Russell T Davies created this show, he didn't really have much to do with it, or if he did, most of his attention was on Doctor Who. Arcs didn't build, and weren't set up properly. Characters had motivations that came out of nowhere and then disappeared. Relationships developed out of nowhere or weren't explored properly. And, unfortunately, of the six main recurring actors, only two would I consider great actors, two others good, and the other two, eh to bad at certain points. Also, the fantastic episode to episode casting that Who normally does is not carried over to this show, so it must be done by different agents.
I will definitely continue to watch it; I DO like the show and the characters a lot, I'm just frustrated because the early episodes were so very good and then it all rather just fell apart a bit here and there for me.
Characters - Gwen is by far the best written character, in my opinion. I get her motivation, good or bad, pretty much all the time. And this is, no doubt, helped by the fact that Eve Myles is AMAZING!! The scene where Rhys died?! She really blew me away, she's just amazing. What I wouldn't give to have seen her as a companion on Who. I think, honestly, sometimes that she's too good for Torchwood. Myles is, obviously, one of the actors I do think is great in the cast.
Owen has the next best characterization (although, Katie and that relationship came a tad out of nowhere for me). He remained consistent even when he fell for Diane, and during the simmering of what wasn't meant to be with Tosh. Burn Gorman is a good actor, but there are moments, both small and big, where he's clearly "acting" and I'm just not as into him as I should be.
Tosh should really be lower on the characterization scale (the second to last, actually), but Naoko Mori is so damn good (yuppers, she's the other great actor) and so very, very likable that she makes Tosh more real than the script ever does. I mean, her two (only two!!!) episodes where she was the main focus ("Greeks Bearing Gifts" and "To the Last Man") some what had her out of character romantically-speaking with all of the other episodes. In GBG, she's suddenly a lesbian/bi-sexual and then it's never referred to again. Yes, it does set up her feelings more strongly for Owen (she'd mentioned their mistletoe kiss in the previous episode), but other than, pretty much nothing from that episode is carried over. And in "To the Last Man" -- a great episode on its own -- it's as if she's shed those feelings for Owen except when they share a scene. It's frustrating. And in some episodes, she's a timid little mouse, in others, stronger and jokier, and there's no reason to explain either personality seen. Still, Mori is so awesome that she made Tosh so awesome and I've decided that in my alternate universe where Russell T. Davies does a Who spin-off with Ten II, Rose, and alt!universe Donna, they also have alt!universe Toshiko Sato and the four of them save the earth (especially the U.K., of course) on a weekly basis. Uh huh.
Speaking of working with the Doctor, there's Martha!! You know, it's very odd. I saw Martha in the preview for the next episode and I squeed. I saw her intro and squeed and squeed. I saw Freema's name in the credits and squeed some more. And then as more scenes with Martha played out, I stopped squeeing and remembered why I just don't care about Martha. I think Freema is beautiful and lovely and utterly charming and likable. I just don't think she's a very charismatic performer or a great actress. She's not bad; she's just okay, and she's very, very bland. She's oh so bland. Sorry, Martha (and Martha fans). I want to love her so much, but, nope. Just, no. I like her, but I can not bring myself to love her.
Then we have Rhys, who is actually the best crafted character outside of Gwen, in my opinion, yet he's not even a main cast member. Kai Owen is the other good actor and he does a lot to make me like the Gwen/Rhys relationship, and I just like him, the big ole teddy bear, even when he's not perfect. Which makes him that much more real.
Unlike Ianto, who other than having a pretty cool name and yes, Captain John, being eye-candy, is a cipher. Seriously, I have no clue who this guy is. He's pretty much a blank slate until "Cyberwoman," and we see him as this deep, private, conflicted, heartfelt guy who completely loved this woman wholly and fully to the point where he's betraying all ethics we've been shown he has. And then a couple of episodes later, it's implied that he's shagging Jack. Came out of nowhere, and there was never anything in any of the following episodes that showed me in any way shape or form where the hell that came from. As for Gareth David-Lloyd, he's a cutie, but not a very good actor. But he IS eye-candy!!!
Finally we get to Jack. Jack is actually not very well-defined at all, in my opinion. He's so different, much less flirty, devil-may-care, etc. here than he ever was on Who -- even in the episodes he appeared in after Torchwood began ("Utopia/TSotD/TLofTL" and "TSE/JE"). I like him better, but I still have no clue who he really is. As for Barrowman, I thought he was an okay actor on Who. He's worse here. He's just not very good. There are great lines that he reduces to merely good with his delivery, and the dramatic stuff sounds so very, very acted. He's not bad. The light-hearted stuff is well-done, it's just that overall, I don't think he's all that good. And no matter how many times they tell me how charming and charismatic he is, it doesn't make it so. At least, not for me. I know, I know, I remain -- and likely forever shall -- in the minority.
Couples - I'm a couple-girl, so I'm always on the look-out for good chemistry. I'm open to male/male, female/female, older/younger, etc. I'm cool. I tend to go more for traditional male/female, but that's simply because I also go for canon and what I get on my screen and there's a lot more traditional male/female coupling on the airwaves. The main thing I look for in couples is chemistry. Chemistry, chemistry, good characterization (and keeping things in character) and chemistry.
The three couples who have the most chemistry are Gwen/Jack -- BY FAR!!, Gwen/Owen and Tosh/Owen. Whenever they have those moments with Jack and Gwen, the screen practically sizzles, my tummy gets those funny little jumps and I'm momentarily breathless. For example, that dance when time seemed to freeze, the music was silenced, etc. when they danced at the wedding was fabulous! They have excellent chemistry. And, it sure seems like they are building to something, but who knows? Because it sure looked like they were building to something with Tosh/Owen and that completely fizzled and went no where. Yes, Gwen loves Rhys. I don't even doubt that, but I actually am leaning more towards that while she loves him, she isn't in love with him, but she IS in love with Jack, but she loves Rhys SO much and feels so safe and secure with him that she's not even going there with Jack AT ALL and completely shuts any thought of going there when it pops up for even a second. And I'm cool with that ... for now, as long as they actually DO go somewhere with it. Because if they don't do anything with all of this build-up it means that all of it was just meaningless filler. So go somewhere, show. Go somewhere with it. Sometime, eventually; don't let it just become nothing as they did with Tosh/Owen.
Mori and Burman don't have as much chemistry as Barrowman and Myles, but they do have chemistry and I looked forward to all of the little moments that seemed to be building up to this tragic love story where they finally get there. Owen finally opens up to her, realizes that she's the one for him, they have an episode of happiness and then BOOM! they both die (as I knew they both did). But no, Owen dies and then undies. And then he goes kinda crazy, and then grabs Tosh for one hot kiss and then other than a few moments that again seemed to be building, nada! They had the story, the build-up, the chemistry and then it just FIZZLED! And I had to deal with Tosh/alien chick (with whom she DIDN'T share chemistry), Owen/Diane (with whom he REALLY didn't share chemistry) and Tosh/Tommy (okay, they had chemistry and were pretty sweet and heartbreaking), but got no pay-off for Owen and Tosh. BUMMER!!!
At least, we got a few moments with Gwen/Owen, the third couple who have chemistry, in my opinion, but they were just fuck buddies and it really didn't mean a damn thing, so I didn't expect or really desire more with them. Sigh.
Which leaves us with the couples paired who don't work for me. I already mentioned that I like Gwen/Rhys, but they really don't have that much chemistry for me. They're sweet, I believe she loves him, but they don't create any amount of sizzle or sparkage for me. I mentioned the guest-stints above that worked (and didn't), which leaves us with Jack and John.
Oh, James Marsters. (Excuse the tangent about the awesome that is James Marsters.) He showed up and in about thirty seconds I was damning Marni Noxin all over again for ruining Buffy for me and making it impossible to watch. James Marsters is one of those very few actors who excels in two areas that make him so undeniably watchable it's nearly unbelievable: His charisma -- off the charts! -- and his line delivery -- he makes every line better than it is, no matter how lousy or how great the line is on its own. (Off-hand, I can think of only six other actors who have that same level of skill in that area: Ralph Fiennes, Gary Oldman, William Fichtner, Jason Dohring and Nicolas Cage.) And he and Barrowman had/have chemistry. That first kiss, then fight was AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!! And just everything about every moment with Marsters was AWESOME!!!!!!!!!! Because James Marsters is AWESOME!!!!!!!!!! And I totally bought he and Jack as a couple.
I also liked Jack and the real Jack Harkness. The actor wasn't that great, but he and Barrowman had a nice chemistry and I enjoyed their tension-filled moments and that dance (although so highly unbelievable that the real Harkness wouldn't have basically been rejected then and there by everyone else in that room) was beautiful. The near-kiss, the emo that our Jack was feeling, all very well done and the two actors had some nice, nice chemistry.
So, one couple left, and what I thought was the big one: Jack and Ianto. And as I watched, I wondered when does the good stuff with them happen. And I kept waiting, and waiting ... Where's the good stuff? What's the big deal? Where is this great relationship? They have barely any screen time, we barely know how they came about, we barely see anything that actually acknowledges anything in their feelings for each other that is anything other than concern for a team member and the two being fuck buddies.
Watching this show, I came away believing 100% that Jack IS in love with Gwen, had very strong feelings for John, but Ianto? He cares about him, as he does the rest of his team, and enjoys the sex, but that's it. And I still believe that Ianto's heart is held by Lisa; he doesn't appear to love Jack anymore than Tosh or Owen did, and not nearly as much as Gwen. Of course, it would probably help me feel anything for their "relationship" -- as it were -- if Barrowman and David-Lloyd had even a lick of chemistry, in my opinion. Which they don't. At all. Jack and Tosh dancing in "Captain Jack Harkness" had more chemistry (before she ruined it by complaining about her laptop) than Jack and Ianto have ever shared. Eh. Oh well. So unless they actually ever do anything Jack and Gwen, I likely won't have a couple on this show. (Well, okay, if anything were to happen with Martha and Jack -- if she were to come back -- maybe then, because I did like their scenes and they had chemistry and I liked their kiss. So they're a possibility too.) Moving on ...
Finally, the character deaths. DAMNIT! Why did Tosh have to die? Owen was dead already and while I like him, I really didn't care either way as I would if Gwen or Tosh were to die because I LOOOOOOVVVVVVVEEEEEEEEE Gwen and Tosh, and they frickin' killed off Tosh. DAMNIT!!! WHYYYY!?!?!?!?!? Kill off Owen, kill of Ianto, hell, kill of Jack ... but leave Tosh alone. Fuckers.
Random thoughts ...
- I totally cried when Tosh died, and left her little video. So very Tosh.
- Man, the Gray arc could have been stronger if they had threaded it better throughout the series, and oh, you know, if they had cast someone as Gray who could actually ACT!!! because that guy was baaaaaaaaaaaaad. Lordy, I hope they don't pull Gray out of freeze unless they recast.
- There were so many points where I would think, man, Jack call the Doctor. This so could have been handled in about five minutes by the Doctor, LOL!
- I feel deprived of any conversation about the Doctor between Jack and Gwen since she mentioned knowing about him (her reference to him in "Journey's End."). Hmmpph!
- ETA: I also love Andy, Gwen's former partner. He should be brought on board the Torchwood team!! I love him!
- My favorite episodes, the best ones to me were:
So, Torchwood. I like it, but it needs a stronger guiding hand that can bring out the greatness that is just there out of sight. Still, I'll continue watching it, it just won't be episode TV like Who was.