Doctor Who #880: Escape to L.A.

"We've reached the edge of America."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Jul.29 2011.

IN THIS ONE... The Dead is Dead movement. Osward recaptures media attention. Esther lets someone follow her from her sister's. Rex's dad is as big of a jerk as he is. And the big mish to steal a server.

REVIEW: The theme of this episode is family. Esther calls the cops on her mentally ill sister. Rex visits the father he never cared about to steal his pain killers. Gwen's father is taken to an "overflow camp". People are leaving their ill parents and children at the "plague ship" hospital. And the voice at the other end of the triangle phone is giving us cryptic talk about "the families" rising. It's so obvious, I don't know why the title doesn't refer to it. It doesn't have something nice to say about family though. The plot, perhaps necessarily, makes each involved family member a burden or problem. Either you abandon/betray them, or you don't and wind up doing something stupid to save them. Gwen will have her turn, of course, but here it's Esther. She gets shouted at so much, I hardly need to add to the blame pile, but... This is a classic case of a character doing the wrong thing - the thing they repeatedly told her not to do - so there can be jeopardy in the episode. Take Esther's visit to her sister's out, and the assassin can't follow Torchwood to the West Coast. I'm all for the personal dilemma story given Esther, but a CIA analyst should have been a little more savvy, and been able to get that angle going without going by the house. She compounds her mistake lots of weeping, taking personal calls during the mission, and asking stupid questions.

And the Americans think Torchwood are the amateurs... Of course, they are, but not in the way Rex thinks. Torchwood is part of that British tradition by self-reliance. Just look at the UNIT stories of the 70s for a similar feel. Just a bunch of chaps (gender neutral) improvising, doing the best they can in totally new situations, and a whole lot more relaxed than the proper military. Torchwood is the same. You don't train all your life to become an agent, you learn on the job. The equipment has been salvaged from other worlds/times and part of the job is learning how to use it. And yeah, if you've got Captain Jack as a boss, it's going to be pretty lethal, but you'll have fun doing it. Perhaps that's why Gwen getting a call from Rhys and Anwen in the middle of a mission is endearing, but Esther's similar situation is unprofessional and irritating (obviously, we don't care about Esther's family we do about Gwen's, but there's still an important distinction). I think it's that tension between what we accept and like about Torchwood and the "24" elements of the CIA stuff that annoys me about Miracle Day.

I've spent all our time talking about "big" ideas, so rather quickly now, what else is in the episode. The action is a fun enough riff on Mission: Impossible, with Rex showing determination and Gwen doing an American accent that mortifies her as much as it does Eve Myles, I'm sure. The assassin is a bit of an odd duck, prone to philosophizing about his sadism; at least he's not a cookie-cutter goon. The "Dead is Dead" movement is an interesting wrinkle, and where this whole overflow camp thing is going, though its leader not-dies a terrible undeath. The mid-point between hospital and camp is the "plague ship" which Vera supervises. Emergency or not, they put this idea into effect too quickly and it serves as an indictment of bureaucracy, etc., just not a terribly useful one. Oswald Danes shows up and performs a media stunt so he can stay in the limelight. The stunt is "disgusting" according to Vera, and Jilly "loves it", amusingly, but it does little for me. It's not outrageous enough to get that reaction. If they really wanted to be disturbing, that baby should have been replaced with a young girl like the one he killed. And what's with Jilly's sudden disgust for Danes? I'm not saying she should like him, but now she's overtly telling him she can't stand the sight of him, when before, she would have smiled through it all and not shown any qualms about exploiting him as a cash cow. Felt like there was a scene missing somewhere. Oh yeah, and who else smirked at the gay agenda joke?

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - At least they're working with episodic themes, and the action bits are reasonably exciting, but Esther is particularly irritating in this one.



Blog Archive


5 Things to Like Activities Advice Alien Nation Aliens Say the Darndest Things Alpha Flight Amalgam Ambush Bug Animal Man anime Aquaman Archetypes Archie Heroes Arrowed Asterix Atom Avengers Awards Babylon 5 Batman Battle Shovel Battlestar Galactica Black Canary BnB 2-in1 Books Booster Gold Buffy Canada Captain America Captain Marvel Cat CCGs Charlton Circles of Hell Comics Comics Code Approved Conan Contest Cooking Crisis Daredevil Dating Kara Zor-El Dating Lois Lane Dating Lucy Lane Dating Princess Diana DCAU Deadman Dial H Dice Dinosaur Island Dinosaurs Director Profiles Doctor Who Doom Patrol Down the Rabbit Hole Dr. Strange Encyclopedia Fantastic Four Fashion Nightmares Fiasco Films Within Films Flash Flushpoint Foldees French Friday Night Fights Fun with Covers Galleries Game design Gaming Geekly roundup Geeks Anonymous Geekwear Gimme That Star Trek Godzilla Golden Age Grant Morrison Great Match-Ups of Science Fiction Green Arrow Green Lantern Hawkman Hero Points Podcast Holidays House of Mystery Hulk Human Target Improv Inspiration Intersect Invasion Invasion Podcast Iron Man Jack Kirby Jimmy Olsen JLA JSA Judge Dredd K9 the Series Kirby Motivationals Krypto Kung Fu Learning to Fly Legion Letters pages Liveblog Lonely Hearts Podcast Lord of the Rings Machine Man Motivationals Man-Thing Marquee Masters of the Universe Memes Memorable Moments Metal Men Metamorpho Micronauts Millennium Mini-Comics Monday Morning Macking Movies Mr. Terrific Music Nelvana of the Northern Lights Nightmare Fuel Number Ones Obituaries oHOTmu OR NOT? Old52 One Panel Outsiders Panels from Sheena Paper Dolls Play Podcast Polls Questionable Fridays Radio Rants Reaganocomics Recollected Red Bee Red Tornado Reign Retro-Comics Reviews Rom RPGs Sandman Sapphire & Steel Sarah Jane Adventures Saturday Morning Cartoons SBG for Girls Seasons of DWAITAS Secret Origins Podcast Secret Wars SF Silver Age Siskoid as Editor Siskoid's Mailbox Space 1999 Spectre Spider-Man Spring Cleaning ST non-fiction ST novels: DS9 ST novels: S.C.E. ST novels: The Shat ST novels: TNG ST novels: TOS Star Trek Suicide Squad Supergirl Superman Supershill Swamp Thing Tales from Earth-Prime Team Horrible Teen Titans That Franchise I Never Talk About The Prisoner The Thing Then and Now Theory Thor Thursdays of Two Worlds Time Capsule Timeslip Tintin Torchwood Tourist Traps of the Forgotten Realms Toys Turnarounds TV V Waking Life Warehouse 13 Websites What If? Who's This? Whoniverse-B Wikileaked Wonder Woman X-Files X-Men Zine