‘So, End of the World Survivors Club.’ Martha Jones arrives in Torchwood and the dynamic shifts. Suddenly Jack is a little closer to his cheeky Doctor Who character, Owen gets excited that he has another doctor to talk to, and everyone else has to take a slight step back to give her some space in the plot. Her background is handled in a strangely coy way: I can accept that there were Torchwood viewers who didn’t watch Doctor Who, but if anything the cryptic hints and winks at the audience about ‘a bad experience with a politician recently’ and ‘we were under the same Doctor’ are surely more annoying than a brief recap of the events of Last of the Time Lords, particularly as Martha’s TARDIS travels and consequent ‘really quite extraordinary’ lymphocytes are so important to the plot.
‘Now who are you and what do you want?’ Another episode that feels rooted in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and specifically Dawn’s sudden appearance in Buffy’s life at the start of Season Five. Adam’s purpose is – in some respects – even sadder. He can only exist if he’s remembered, and so he has to insert himself into Torchwood’s memories, in the process detaching great chunks of their real memories like melting icebergs.
‘What is this, Scooby Doo?’ I haven’t watched this since broadcast and remembered it as being fairly risible. I was wrong: it’s very funny, angry and real. The scenes of Rhys in the Hub are particularly effective, as he braves Gwen’s wrath to offer Torchwood a route into busting open the illegal meat factory. But there are loads of great moments: Rhys observing Torchwood arriving on the scene of his lorry crash; Rhys confronting Gwen, which is written and played as a real couple’s row; Tosh’s increasingly unsubtle attempts to seduce Owen.
‘Your life will be like a thread stitching time back together.’ A year after Doctor Who did its own First World War sacrifice story, Torchwood presents its own version, with Tommy Brockless plucked from 1918 by Torchwood, defrosted once a year for a check-up until the time comes when he’ll need to be sent back to meet his destiny, saving the future, and his reward, death in front of a firing squad. The complication: Tommy has found a reason to live in Tosh, and so heroic sacrifice holds very little appeal.
‘I thought the end of the world couldn’t get any worse.’ A routine episode that’s sharper than the first series, largely built around Nikki Amuka-Bird’s sympathetic central performance as the sleeper agent. Thematically, it begins where Doctor Who: Utopia ended: with a human revealed to be an alien monster in hiding (perhaps his experiences at the end of the universe have given Jack an extra-ruthless intensity when it comes to exposing the sleeper). From there, it goes down a different route, with Beth’s humanity not erased by the alien inside, but constantly struggling to reassert itself until the predictably tragic conclusion.
‘Bloody Torchwood.’ The pre-titles sequence signals a shift from Series One, with the team (sans Jack) functioning as a unit to hunt town an alien Blowfish, only to predictably mess it up until Jack arrives – freshly back from the Year That Never Was – to save their skins. It’s funny, fast and fresh, with a sort of swagger that wasn’t entirely earned during the previous series. Then, post titles, Jack has to deal with the fall-out of abandoning his dysfunctional kids – which turns out, they’ve grown closer in his absence and now treat him like an absentee dad trying to worm his way back into their lives.
‘But if you could choose, Doctor, if you decide who lives and who dies, that would make you a monster.’ The centrepiece of Doctor Who’s imperial phase, as David Tennant and Kylie Minogue take over Christmas with a special episode so big it spills out of the traditional hour-long slot to pack in a pastiche of The Poseidon Adventure with a side dish of Die Hard. There’s a certain absurdity to it, but it only very occasionally tips over into outright shclock, such as Elizabeth II waving at a flying replica of the Titanic and wishing the Doctor a happy Christmas.
‘It’s Only Fools and Horses with green skin and claws.’ This is, in the end, very mildly disappointing. Partly it’s because a lot of the things that made Part One so effective, like Luke’s “parents” and Clyde’s investigations, get dropped in favour of a race against time to stop the Moon crashing into the Earth – just like the race against time to stop a meteor crashing into the Earth a fortnight ago. Which then calls into question why Mr Smith didn’t just “fail” to blow up that meteor rather than concocting this very convoluted plot.
‘I’ve never met anyone else who could fly the TARDIS like that.’ The most picked-apart Doctor Who sketch since Moffat’s last one is essentially a safe way to reintroduce past Doctors into the 21st Century series. Davison was an obvious choice given both Moffat and Tennant’s liking for the fifth Doctor, and Tom would probably have been too big an event for an eight-minute mini-episode. As it is, this is just right, showing the old series love and respect while also poking fun at it (‘decorative vegetables’ and ‘Time Lords in funny hats’).
‘It seems you’ve got powerful friends, Miss Smith.’ This one definitely has an end-of-season-finale quality to it, which is quite impressive for a CBBC show. Maria coming clean to her dad about her involvement in Sarah Jane’s adventures is a neat recap of events in Series One to make sure that anyone who missed it knows about the Slitheen. The opening suggests the story is going to go in one direction, with Alan reacting badly to learning his daughter’s battling monsters and aliens, but pretty quickly it turns into a different kind of parent trap as Luke’s “real” parents make a tearful appeal on TV and Sarah Jane’s new life is upended.