Torchwood Torchwood Guide


Inevitably, 'Random Shoes' drew comparisons to the Doctor Who episode 'Love & Monsters', since both episodes show the regular characters through the eyes of an ordinary person. 'Love & Monsters' is not without its detractors, but whatever its faults, it certainly wasn't boring, and benefited from presenting events to the audience via a loveably dim central character. Unfortunately, 'Random Shoes' gives us Eugene, a nerd with little charisma who is as boring an ordinary as all of the other characters seems to think. And the entire story is told from his point of view?

Therein lies the problem with 'Random Shoes': whilst I managed to cope with Russell T. Davies implying that Doctor Who fans are socially inadequate obsessive simpletons purely because 'Love & Monsters' largely amused me, here I feel expected to empathise with a man who has no friends and whose brother doesn't seem to give a toss that he's dead. Frankly, and perhaps harshly, I don't like Eugene: he's a ghost who talks to himself in an incredibly annoying voice and in a blatant and clumsy example of exposition, a UFO spotter and Torchwood groupie with a borderline obsession with Gwen, to whom he tried to show his eye. Worse still, as Eugene follows Gwen around whilst invisible and intangible, he tells her "I love you" and climbs into bed with her, making him a supernatural pervert. It's difficult not to feel some sympathy towards him when his best (and only) friend is persuaded to help betray him by the obnoxious video store attendant, but any such sympathy is quickly diluted by the feeling that the script is being as shallow and manipulative as possible, in an ghastly attempt at emotional button pushing that sees Eugene's father turning up at his wedding and singing "Danny Boy".

It doesn't help that the science fiction element that underlies the plot is also rather uninteresting. Following the astonishing revelation that a teacher found a weird eye that fell from the sky, but has no discernable interest in it whatsoever and cheerfully gives it away to a pupil, we later get Eugene explaining to the audience, "when I swallowed the eye? I was given a chance to look back on my life and see it for what it was." What, dull? The eye itself is an ill-defined MacGuffin that allows writer Jacquette May to have Eugene haunt Gwen until her natural sympathy towards him starts to allow her to almost subconsciously hear his spectral voice, until she finally gets to meet him at the end, before apparently ascending to heaven in a way that cheapens the only truly impressive scene from 'They Keep Killing Susie'. Or to put it another way, the eye allows Jacquette May to plagiarise Ghost, but incredibly write something even more cloying and sentimental.

In the midst of all of this tedious rot, there are only three things worthy left that are worthy of note: amongst all the overblown emotional music there is a track by David Bowie; the "Happy Cock" fluff might amuse the puerile (me, for example); and Owen watches Episode Six of 'A for Andromeda' in the Hub. Which is by far and away the best bit of science fiction in the entire episode.

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