Meat Beat Manifesto
The other day, someone asked if there was a worse single episode of sf/fantasy television worse than the Blake's 7 story, The Keeper.
I pointed out that The Keeper wasn't even the worst episode of B7 (that 'honour' belongs to Animals if you ask me) and in any case there were quite a few worse bits of genre tv than anything which ever appeared on B7.
Specifically, I suggested The Witch from series two of Survivors; Gridlock from season 29 of Doctor Who; and the truly execrable Darkness of Light from the otherwise non-fantasy Wire in the Blood.
All three of those, however, pale into insignificance beside the season 2 episode of Torchwood, Meat, which has forced me to stop watching Torchwood altogether on the grounds that there will be a reckoning someday and I will have to explain the extent to which I wasted chunks of my life on undeniable shit.
On every conceivable level, watching this is horrendous and painful experience, even with the low expectations I had going in. It's the televisual equivalent of going to some crappy amusements in the rain and discovering that virtually every ride is either boarded up or covered in AIDS-riddled junkie puke, and those few that are open have been themed to feature dead babies being eaten by bloody-jawed Tiggers.
Seriously, it's so bad that actual English doesn't cover it. It is Teh worst RitN, acted & diRctD TV progrm eva. It sux.
And how does it suck? Let us count (some of) the ways.
1. The characterisation
Are the meat harvesting types the stupidest people in the world? They don't realise that a hundred foot long kebab with a massive eye which you can cut into at will and which can live in a handy factory isn't in fact a bloody big fish? It doesn't cross their minds at all to wonder where it came from? Not one person - not even the scientist guy - considered that it might, you know, be some kind of big alien?
Rhys too - presumably he never watches television except for the rugby, or reads a paper except to glance at the page 3 stunna? Otherwise he might have heard about the alien spaceship crashing into Big Ben, the army of ghost Cybermen, the Daleks at Canary Wharf, the Thames being sucked into the centre of the Earth or the spaceship Titanic. Maybe they only get Welsh news in Wales, now that they have an Assembly of their own?
And the rest of the team? The usual mishmash of inconsistency and incompetence, leavened by lashings of bad acting.
2. The Effects
Is the meat creature the most amateur effect in the new Whoniverse? I'd include a screencap but you can't do it's crappiness justice in a static image.
3. The Writing
Holy crap, Catherine Treganna wrote this? If I wasn't for the mighty reputation for accuracy that Wikipedia has gained over the years, I wouldn't believe that was possible. Her scripts for season 1 of Torchwood hit the heady heights of 'quite good' and I'd just assumed that this was either Chris 'Clogger' Chibnall script or came from the pen of arch-nepotist Joe Lidster.
The dialogue in particular has a real Chibnall/Lidster ring to it: "What have they done to you, my poor friend" directed at the giant kebab would be a stretch even in the mouth of an actual actor : in the mouth of John Barrowman it's enough to make your toes curl.
Burn Gorman does what he can with the scene in which he apologises to the meat creature for killing it, but he's not superman and there's only so much he can do to invest the line with anything more than giggle-worthy levels of bathos.
Oh, and let's not forget the amnesia pill - a plot device rapidly taking on Sonic Screwdriver levels of ubiquity in Torchwood. How does that work then? Is it a pill that knows how much of your memory it needs to wipe? How else to explain the fact that the same pill that cold wipe someone's memory of the last half hour could also seemingly wipe Rhys memories of the previous day? It's just lazy and shoddy and thoughtless, folks, that's what it is - and therefore it perfectly fits the ethos of the whole show. Any old crap will do, in any department, because the fans will watch it anyway - why bother trying to produce something with any quality?
4. The Acting
Everybody in this is rubbish, with the exceptions of Gareth David-Lloyd as Ianto and to a lesser extent Kai Owen as Rhys. It's genuinely difficult to sum up just how inept both Barrowman and Naoko Mori as Tosh are...
This is Barrowman reacting with horror, pity and anguish at the suffering of the meat creature.
Or Barrowman demonstrating his 'The Horn' face for Ianto.
Or Barrowman doing happy. Who can tell?
"I'm sorry" (that they made you act with both a dull and badly done CGI monster and the meat creature)
I might go back to Torchwood (not least because there's an event at the end of the series I'd like to see), but not for a while. I need to digest this rancid Meat first...