Torchwood episode 23: From Out of the Rain (12/3/2008)

‘All those acts performing for us. Part of history, trapped on film forever.’ P.J. Hammond’s second Torchwood script feels more like Sapphire & Steel than his first, with creepy circus acts stepping out of fading silent movies to hunt the living. Ideas of film capturing living history even as it supersedes it (the point being, travelling shows lost their audiences to the picture houses), and film being a medium where the past and present collide and allow malevolent Time to break through are exactly the kind of mystery medium atomic weights might have been assigned to investigate.

This is all good. But the episode is nowhere near as successful as Hammond’s Sapphire & Steel serials. It may have the requisite cryptic spookiness, but this fades into scattergun weirdness as the released entertainers begin to wander Cardiff stealing the last breaths of their victims to keep, like Fenric, in a magic flask. I suppose at a real stretch you could draw some analogy between human beings kept alive as husks because their last breaths have been stolen with the carnies being kept alive because their images have been stolen, but none of this is drawn out in the story, which just sort of unfolds as a bunch of stranger things that happened. It’s not unenjoyable, but neither is it very satisfactory.

More satisfying is the episode’s reveal of more of Jack’s previous lives, which continue to be drip fed as this series continues. And Julian Bleach’s performance as the Ghostmaker helps to paper over some of the cracks in the plotting. It’s not Hammond’s fault that anyone who grew up with The League of Gentlemen will struggle to watch From Out of the Rain without comparing it to Papa Lazarou’s Pandemonium Carnival and finding it wanting. But the fact remains.

TW FromOutTheRain

Next Time: Adrift


One comment

  1. Pingback: Torchwood episode 22: Something Borrowed (5/3/2008) | Next Time...

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