BBCHD - 5th March 2008 - 10.00pm

"How's THAT for a shapeshift?"

Quite. OK, so we needed a shift in tone after the rather depressing, morbid tone of the two previous episodes but I'm afraid this was just a little over the top for my tastes. It seemed to pile absurdity onto absurdity as if its very life depended on it. It synthesised all the crassest 'Torchwood' moments and then married them to a daft sit-com wedding plot. Oh, my sides ached. I can see that the producers were aiming for a farce this week and that's fine but I'm glad it's not every week we get something as ridiculous as this. Even saying that, I just felt that it was trying to cover a number of bases without actually reaching high enough - so we end up with a concoction that tries to do comedy, tries to do gore, tries to do drama, tries to do SF - and ultimately isn't that much of anything.

So Gwen gets up the duff from an alien shape-shifter and...ho,ho,ho...has to marry Rhys in a pregnant state much to the predictable responses from their sit-com caricature parents, including Nerys Hughes now doing a passable Molly Sugden impression. This bastard child, pun intended, of 70s sit-com, 'Men In Black' and 'Evil Dead' films lurched from scene to scene and predictably finished at the 'oh, it's OK we can drug them all and they'll never know it happened' ending. You could see it a mile off.

Actually, the 'Evil Dead' gag with Rhys and the chainsaw was the best thing in it. It was very funny, as was Jack yelling at Nerys Hughes, calling her an "ugly bitch". One of the best scenes with Jack and Gwen, one that actually commented on the way the show has been handling the Gwen and Jack relationship itself, was so unconvincing because it actually was meant to be unconvincing as Jack turned out to be the shapeshifter. Says loads about the relationship if you ask me and we still got puppy eyed longing from both of them again despite that lovely in-joke. And didn't this love triangle between Gwen, Rhys and Jack also indicate that Jack is actually using Ianto? I didn't particularly like the idea of Jack simply indulging in throwaway affairs but as it has been established he's immortal then I guess he doesn't give a fuck. Still, Jack, all sighing regret, did reveal to us his previously wedded status as he leafed through his photo collection. I suspect Ianto's photo'll be joining that gallery in the future, no doubt.

Gwen, in my estimation, just simply came across as deeply selfish, (in fact idiotically selfish) without any thought for the consequences of her state and how that would impact on her parents, Rhys' parents, their guests, her colleagues. She just blundered into having the wedding despite it all, which I suppose shows a certain loyalty to Rhys, but did she not think that her parents and in-laws would need an explanation. No, not until she's in her wedding dress and about to waddle down the aisle! And how did she think she was going to explain a missing grandchild? Probably less funny if she actually were to be sensible and cancelled the ceremony. Not enough gags in that.

Anyway, back to the story - having assumed that the guests would all be retconned, it did strike me as rather cruel that even before their drug induced forgetfulness, the male victim of the alien attack was utterly ignored. No lamenting one of your wedding guests who looked as if he'd had half of his crotch eaten then? It would be great if the next episode could actually turn the tables here and we have a scenario where the poor man's parents or girlfriend go looking for the missing man. A farce like this needs a moral centre, a bit of a conscience and responsibility attached to it and a follow up episode of this kind would be a neater coda than just having Jack gazing at his wedding photos.

And is the rule of thumb now 'aliens are evil' and no attempt to understand or reason with them will work so let's shoot them all to bits? The shapeshifters get killed simply for...procreating? Did anyone else feel uncomfortable with the scene showing Rhys literally aborting an unborn child in Gwen's womb? Granted it was an alien beastie...but the subtext was one that left a nasty taste in the mouth.

And where is Jack's authority? Has it gone on holiday? Fallen down a crack in the pavement? His character has been sidelined for much of the season so far and much as he purports to be the leader of the group no one takes a blind bit of notice of him anyway. We have been short changed this season and there has been a distinct lack of development of Jack as all the attention has shifted to the other characters. Yes, the series needed to generate some likeability for the team but did it have to do it at the expense of reducing John Barrowman to a mugging cypher?

So, it was intermittently funny but fairly forgettable. The preview of next week's episode was of far more interest and I'm looking forward to P.J Hammond stamping all over this with his creepy tale of cinema images coming to life!

Previous episode reviews:

A Day In The Death
Dead Man Walking
To The Last Man
Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

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