Diary of an old cheeser

Hi there! Like other blogs, this is my chance to wax lyrical (some might say talk utter cr*p) about a) what's happening in my life b) all of my pet obsessions in particular music, tv, movies, books and other generally connected things, quite often of the retro, old and "cheesy" variety. Hence the title of my blog. Feel free to leave a comment if the mood takes you. There's nothing like a good chinwag about one's favourite topics and besides I love to meet new people! Cheers, Simon

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Sleeping with the enemy

Oh husband dearest!! I'm SO sorry I stabbed you through the heart with my sword-like arm. I swear to God it was an accident, sweetness. This arm is a bit of a hindrance, sometimes, you know? Then again it can be SO useful for cutting up the courgettes ... I just need to control it a bit more, don't I, darling? Perhaps Jamie Oliver could employ me as his new assistant?

Well, Episode Two of Torchwood, "Sleeper" has been and gone. And you know what? I actually enjoyed it rather a lot. What's going on?! Okay, it still wasn't on a par with a certain other sci-fi prog, but this episode felt pretty ... adult. In the proper sense of the word. There was tension, drama, some interesting ideas coming to the fore and decent acting too. And there was surprisingly little sex involved this time round. Although we did get a joke, admittedly quite funny - when it looks like the world might be in grave danger, Owen announces to Tosh and Ianto: "Let's all have sex!" to which Ianto replies: "And I thought the end of the world couldn't get any worse". (!) But that was pretty much the one and only reference to nooky in the entire episode and it was all the better for it. There was however, a fair amount of blood and gore which was quite hard to stomach - so "adult" in another sense - but it actually added to the drama rather than being overly gratuitous, I reckon.

"Sleeper" kicks off with the team called to the scene of a house burglary - the burglars are dead, the husband is unconscious and the wife, Beth, mysteriously has no recollection of what happened. It later transpires that she's actually an alien who has been given a human identity/personality - so real, that even she is convinced of her "humanity". But she's a "sleeper" alien and hence her real self can take over at any time! Oooh! Unbeknown to "Beth" her real purpose on the Earth is to spearhead an impending invasion by her species. And when the T-Wood team attempt to "deactivate" her, they unwittingly end up activating the three other members of her "cell", causing carnage on the streets of Cardiff. And we're not talking carnage of the "Saturday night chucking out from the pub" variety. We're talking carnage = mooider!! (That's "murder" pronounced in the way Max from "Hart to Hart" did).

An interesting premise then! The episode was quite slow to get going, with the team taking Beth to the hub and interrogating her. Jack was rather nasty and ruthless I thought and his fun-loving DW persona seemed to be in abeyance in this episode, seemingly quite happy to torture poor old Beth.

Nikki Amuka-Bird (nice name) who played the scared and uncomprehending Beth, was convincing, if a little too po-faced and serious. Then again wouldn't you be if someone kept telling you that you were an alien? After rather a lot of talky scenes, finally we saw the "alien" Beth come to life as something strange appeared on her arm. This was where some not-very-good special effects kicked in, surprising for a show that you would think had a decent budget. The alien arm make up looked rather cack - papier mache style? - although the actual concept of a human arm turning into a sword thing was quite horrific, with some genuinely unnerving scenes - one in which a husband turns on his wife and children in their own house and slaughters them and (rather amusingly) a Chav-type girl with big hooped earings goings on the rampage in a shopping centre and blowing up a building. Proving I suppose that the sleepers don't discriminate according to class. There was also a horrible scene (see pic above) where Beth goes to see her husband in hospital and the "alien" side of her takes over causing her to stab him to death - whilst crying at the same time over what she's done - unable to control her murderous impulses.

What was it with Beth's "alien" voice though?! When we heard her speak in alien lingo it sounded like Jamaican patois, yet later when she "spoke" again as an alien she sounded normal. Eh?

There was also quite a gripping showdown at the end with a shoot out at a military bunker (the husband-alien was going to prime lots of nuclear bombs and blow up the world - this was flawed rather though - what happened to the plan for alien invasion?) Then a tense scene back in the hub where Beth makes the decision to kill herself but unable to go through with it herself, takes Gwen "hostage" so that the other members of the team are forced to shoot her.

The T-Wood team dynamics were quite reigned on this occasion - no flirtations or anything like that. Ianto seems to be shaping up to be the Hub stand-up comic, although some of his "jokes" were, erm, somewhat dodgy. Well I guess it's a move up the career ladder from doorman...


  • At 7:05 pm , Blogger TimeWarden said...

    I thought this week's episode a vast improvement on the first. Even if the arm make-up was a little on the cheap side, and particularly reminiscent of "Terminator 2: Judgment Day", "Sleeper" more than made up for it on the ideas front.

    The effects were pretty good in places especially the explosion that blew the woman outwards from the building. Unlike the opening episode, I actually want to watch this one again, I suspect because James Moran's script was better than Chris Chibnall's. And, I thought Nikki Amuka-Bird inhabited the role of Beth completely.

  • At 7:35 am , Blogger MOTHER OF MANY said...

    I have to admit that Cardiff can be pretty scary on a Saturday night! I have had to pick one of my daughters up from the train station quite late a few times and with the abundance of police everywhere, it does resemble a war zone.

  • At 7:32 am , Blogger Steve said...

    Agreed. A much better episode. A tighter punchier script with a bit of depth to it. Hopefully this is a primer for a story which they will return to later in the series. I liked Ianto's humour too... but still can't see what Captain Jack would see in him...

  • At 1:03 pm , Blogger Old Cheeser said...

    Tim - So pleased to hear you thought it was better! There is hope eh?

    I agree, James Moran does seem to be a much better writer! I think Chris Chiball is to Torchwood what Russell T Davies is to Doctor Who - i.e. he's churned out some really mediocre rubbish!

    Allyson - Well as long as your daughters aren't being chased by people with arm make-up they'll probably be okay. Maybe there really ARE aliens in Cardiff hence the abundance of police!

    Steve - Glad you agree too! I actually prefer Ianto to Jack in some ways - quite handsome and the silent type who just needs to be roughed up a bit - okay, I'll stop there...

  • At 10:09 pm , Blogger matty said...

    Oh my! That looks quite violent.

    ...I might not want to explore this show for a while!

    Think I better stick to light comedy fare!



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