I’m on the verge of stopping my downloading of Torchwood. (That’s the low-tech html website. the hi-tech website has an extremely annoying flash interface.) I’ve watched the first three episodes and it has been disappointing. It’s well written, both from a plot standpoint and a dialog standpoint, but I’m sorry to say that the lead actor cannot act. This is an unfortunate thing to have to say, and it isn’t something I say lightly. Acting is as tough as any job, and particularly so since the actors work is done in full view of the public. If I mess up, it’s usually well hidden within my cubicle walls, or at least, kept within the confines of my department. When an actor messes up, the whole world sees it and worse yet, comments on it.
It has been my observation that most actors usually get inside the characters they play. They figure out, based on what’s written in the script (or scripts) what is the key attribute that motivates and colors every action and reaction their character makes. In watching Captain Jack, however, I cannot figure out what he’s all about. Is he bitter about being stuck on a backwards planet and in only one time? Is he sad about it? Resigned? Is he trying to get back to his old life? Does he feel any responsibility towards his crew? In what way? Is he like their father? Is he remote, letting them do whatever they want as long as they don’t bother him? Unfortunately, as John Barrowman plays him, there’s no there there. Captain Jack is merely a person who recites lines and strikes poses that he thinks are suitable for the situation. John Barrowman is an extremely good looking man, and is at least able to be unselfconscious in front of the camera (which is the key feature that separates any actor from the rest of us). But he has not done his homework about this character, and has succeeded in making what should’ve been an intriguing character become a plot device.
In fact, I’ve noticed that in these three episodes, more and more of the story rests on the shoulders of Eve Myles, the co-star who plays a junior policewoman that gets recruited into the local branch of the Torchwood Institute. She’s plays her role well, but unfortunately, that’s not who we tuned in to see. The relationship between her and Captain Jack is inexplicable. The story and the dialog keeps signalling to us that there’s a special bond between these two, but it’s hard to see any actual evidence of it, or any reason as to why. It is even more unfortunate that the rest of the cast is very non-descript. In fact, one wonders if they’re not all red-shirts in waiting.
A good friend of mine is a true-blue Doctor Who fan, and when he watched these episodes, he, too, had a similar reaction of general disappointment. We both agreed that we have no interest in seeing the fourth episode, which looked terrible in the previews, although we might decide to try the fifth one. However, if it shows no improvement, we’ll probably give it up.