So I’m sort of cheating a little bit in my Doctor Who marathon. At time of writing, I’m only up to Part 2 of Galaxy 4. This means I’m quite a way off when I should be watching these. However in order to stop me from getting too unenthusiastic about binge watching black and white television, I thought I would interlace it with episodes of the Doctor Who spin-offs. Therefore not technically jumping ahead because the Doctor isn’t present in these stories; they are happening mostly independently from him.
Now that is out of the way; Torchwood. It is interesting to see the way that Russell T Davies uses a couple of techniques that he used in his first episode of Doctor Who. For example, we follow the story through Gwen Cooper’s eyes, much like we do with Rose. Davies makes Jack Harkness into a much more mysterious character than he appeared to be in Doctor Who previously. He has a mysterious past and no one on the team even really knows who he is. This is a very similar character to the Doctor when we first meet him in the revival series. We are introduced to the Torchwood team at the same time that Gwen is. Much like the first time we see the interior of the Tardis, we only see the Torchwood Hub when Gwen first sees it.
While we are talking about the Hub, I love the way that the fountain on Cardiff bay is incorporated in such a big way, making it go deep underground to be part of the rift’s monitoring systems. Very similar to in The Pandorica Opens, when the stones in Stonehenge are revealed to actually go underground as part of an ancient transmitter. The Torchwood Hub is absolutely massive with the upper floors being added in post production.
Although there isn’t enough time in the opening episode to get to know all of the characters straight away, it makes a good job of setting them up. We see that Ianto is mostly there to assist the rest of the team, ready to act as backup if needed. We learn that Tosh is more into the technical side of the job, hacking into databases. Owen is a doctor himself, and is very immature but seems lovable; and Suzie is a little more mysterious.
The twist of Suzie having performed the murders simply to test equipment for the greater good, is quite an effective one in my opinion. I remember not seeing it coming when I first watched the series. It also quite nicely opens up a position for Gwen to take at the end of the episode.
We are also introduced to Gwen’s police officer friend, Andy. While the episode shows how mundane Gwen’s life is before Jack turns it upside down; we see Andy and Gwen going in to stop a punch up in a bar. Andy easily has one of my favourite lines in the episode:
“CSI: Cardiff, I’d like to see that. They’d be measuring the velocity of a kebab.”
Russell manages to create these characters and make them all memorable even after seeing some of them for snippets in a single episode. In my opinion that is a credit to the actors and the writing.
I remember reading that Russell T Davies always slightly regretted having too much swearing in the first episode, because it made it seem forced and was just trying to communicate that this was more adult that Doctor Who. I don’t necessarily dislike the swearing in this episode apart from a line from Suzie:
“How come we get all the Weevils and bollocks and shit?”
It did make me cringe a little having watched it again. That line does feel rather unnatural and forced, but these are only nitpicks really. Although the next episode featuring a rampaging sex alien does have rather the same flaw. We know this is an adult show without needing to have an alien live off orgasmic energy – well that’s a review for another time.
In summary, Everything Changes is a very solid opening episode, even if it does borrow several techniques from Rose. It makes Torchwood immediately mysterious and the characters instantly likable. I award it with seven Resurrection Gauntlets out of ten.