Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (Torchwood)
|14 – "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang"|
The hologram of Captain John's ex-lover tells him that the diamond he was searching for was a ruse to avenge her murder.
|Directed by||Ashley Way|
|Written by||Chris Chibnall|
|Script editor||Brian Minchin|
|Produced by||Richard Stokes|
Chris Chibnall (co-producer)
|Executive producer(s)||Russell T Davies|
|First broadcast||16 January 2008|
The episode features a guest appearance from James Marsters as Captain John Hart, the former colleague and lover of the alien hunter Jack Harkness (John Barrowman). In the episode, John double crosses Jack's Torchwood team as part of a plan to steal a diamond from a woman who was murdered.
Chris Chibnall wrote the episode with the knowledge that Marsters wished to appear in the series, and has written the part of John Hart "absolutely" for him. The episode was filmed in Cardiff in July 2007. "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" was seen by four million viewers upon its original broadcast, with an Appreciation Index of 84, and was met with generally positive reviews in both the United Kingdom and United States.
Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) returns to his team in spectacular fashion, walking into the middle of a hostage situation involving his team and an alien Blowfish, shooting the intoxicated Blowfish in the head. At the Hub, his team question why he left them, and he simply responds that he had found his Doctor and that he belongs at Torchwood. The team is then alerted to a death near a multi-storey car park, where the team detect energy from the Rift on the corpse. Jack, to even his surprise, gets a hologram message on his vortex manipulator from a person he recognises, and leaves the team to talk to him.
The person is Captain John Hart (James Marsters), a fellow Time Agent and former lover of Jack. He is responsible for the death, and a public disturbance at a nightclub. After a passionate kiss and brief fight at the nightclub, John tells Jack that the Time Agency was disbanded and he has since undergone several rehabilitation programmes, before the team catch up with Jack and are introduced to John. John accompanies the team back to the Hub, where he tells the team of three cylindrical devices scattered throughout Cardiff, which he explains are radioactive cluster bombs, and he requires help to defuse them. Thus, they split into three pairs: Jack and administrator Ianto Jones (Gareth David-Lloyd) search an office block (during which Jack successfully asks Ianto out on a date), doctor Owen Harper (Burn Gorman) and technical expert Toshiko Sato (Naoko Mori) search a warehouse, and police liaison Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) and John search the nearby docks.
It is clear that John has an ulterior motive; first, he paralyses Gwen and locks her in a crate telling her that if she is not found in two hours, her main organs will stop working and she would die. He then finds Owen and Tosh, shooting the former in the hip. After letting Ianto go, he finally confronts Jack, who realises that the bombs are an elementary 51st century confidence trick. Jack throws the device over the building, and John pushes him off the roof in retaliation.
John returns to Torchwood, where he takes a pyramid-shaped object from the Blowfish in the morgue. Gwen (who was saved by the rest of the team) and the others arrive, including Jack, who survived due to his immortality. They hold John at gunpoint, where he admits that the "bombs" will simply triangulate the location of a diamond he stole off a former lover. However, by using the devices and the pyramid, he discovers there is no diamond; John's former lover anticipated dying, and thus set a trap to kill her murderer. The device turns out to be a bomb which attaches itself to John and begins a ten-minute countdown.
Unwilling to be murdered, John handcuffs himself to Gwen and swallows the key. Gwen formulates a plan to use the Rift at the car park to contain the explosion, but at the penalty of her own life. Jack and Owen catch John and the rest of the team at the car park where John arrived and inject him with the team's DNA, thus confusing the device into detaching from John. Jack throws the bomb into the rift where it detonates. John then agrees to free Gwen and leave, but before leaving, tells Jack that he "found Gray", visibly disturbing Jack, who just asks his team to get back to work.
Writing and filming
The development of the episode commenced when executive producer Russell T Davies received an email from his agent, telling him James Marsters was interested in appearing on the series. Chris Chibnall wrote the episode "absolutely" for Marsters, and wanted Hart to become a conflict for Jack Harkness. Marsters believed that Hart was somewhat of a doppelganger to Harkness. After scripting was complete, Marsters did not need to discuss with the directors because he felt the script was self-explanatory.
Originally, Captain John was going to come through the Rift on a "pandimensional surfboard" similar to the one found in the Doctor Who episode "Boom Town", Chibnall changed it because the production team decided that "it would look cooler if John just calmly walked out of the Rift, as if it was the sort of thing he might do every day".
The episode was filmed in Cardiff in July 2007. The first meeting between Jack and John at the nightclub was written to be akin to a Spaghetti Western. Instead of fighting, it was decided that they would kiss first, so that the audience "don't see it coming". The following fight scene was intended to be "sexy, rather than brutal", similar to the naked wrestling scene in the film Women in Love. While the scene only lasted one minute on screen, much more was filmed, so much that it took a whole day to shoot. 80% of the acting in the scene was done by Marsters and Barrowman themselves, instead of stuntmen. The style of fighting was similar to what Marsters was used to, and was, according to stunt co-ordinator Tom Lucy, a cross between Western, martial arts, and Bourne.
The building used to film searching for one of the canisters was a British Gas building in Cardiff. The scene with Jack falling off the building was performed by Curtis Rivers, John Barrowman's stunt double. Though Rivers made the stunt to make Jack "look good", Barrowman had to lie on a box over green screen. Marsters and Barrowman were used for filming close to the roof's edge.
Visual effects and animatronics
While the most noticeable visual effect was John's entrance through the Rift, The Mill also made inconspicuous visual effects, such as extending the number of crates at the docks. The visual effect used for the Rift was redesigned for the second series, due to a decision among the visual effects team at The Mill that separate manifestations of the Rift appear different — in this case, orange and gold was used to make the Rift appear "warmer and more magical". The Mill also made three different types of holograms. The projection from Jack's wriststrap device was coloured blue to match earlier appearances, John's wriststrap projected a flashier, full colour image due to specifications in the script, and the golden hue in the projection of John's ex-lover was based on the prop.
The blowfish in the opening scene was intended by executive producer Russell T Davies to be "like Finding Nemo, but evil" and the producer of the episode, Richard Stokes, wanted the designs to be as flamboyant as "the lionfish in The Spy Who Loved Me". The first designs of the costume were visibly different from the final design; the first designs were more fish-like than humanoid. After a humanoid design was approved by the production team, Millennium FX, who previously created the prosthetics for Doctor Who and the first series of Torchwood, immediately sculpted the costume to Paul Kasey's dimensions. Two versions of the mask were created; one was animatronic, which included mechanical fins, and one was used for the stunt where the blowfish was shot in the head.
Broadcast and reception
Ratings and later broadcast
The episode was watched by 4.22 million viewers and its Appreciation Index figure was 84. After its original broadcast, an edited version was shown the following week on BBC Two. The episode was also aired ten days later on BBC America.
Metro picked "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" as their pick of the day on 16 January 2008, complimenting the "fast-paced plot" in contrast to the "puerile humour" and "[meandering] between soft porn and Scooby-Doo" of the first series. In the same newspaper, on the following day, Keith Watson commented that the episode "was like watching Carry On Up the Asteroids", but nevertheless stated that "as dramatic cocktails go, [its mix of gadgets, sci-fi gobbledegook and louche libidos] was out of this world", and gave the episode four stars out of five. The Times commented that the episode was "good, salacious, knockabout fun", the best thing about Torchwood that "everyday Cardiff hums alongside psychotic blowfish and time loops", and asked "when extraterrestrial push comes to intergalactic shove, how could anyone object to a series that begins with a blowfish driving a sports car?". The Guardian stated that parts were "very, very, funny" and the episode was largely "a hoot". However, The Daily Telegraph felt that the series fared better on BBC Three, but on BBC Two it was "both far too pleased with itself and surprisingly amateurish".
The episode also received positive reviews in the United States. The Chicago Sun-Times summarised it as "gay and playful sci-fi fun" and compared it with Buffy the Vampire Slayer's "good and efficient wit", and theorised that its rising quality made it "not hard to imagine it could be must-watch TV by season four", the Orlando Sentinel stated it was "a bracing mix of campy comedy, chilling twists and sexual surprises" and commented that it "enlivens Saturdays", and the Sci Fi Channel, who syndicate Doctor Who, called the script "excellent", commented that "Marsters and Barrowman's chemistry is just terrific", and lamented that the show only airs thirteen episodes per series, as opposed to the American standard of 24.
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