Monday, 21 May 2012

A Series Of Skywatch. 6: This Is Personal!

Doctor Who spinoffs such as Torchwood naturally include their own takes on Classic Who Themes. Plenty of action and adventure, a fair amount of horror, bits of knockabout comedy, and Big Emotional Episodes for everyone. I’m addressing the latter here, because it’s the most changed by the Earthbound format.

When tragedy strikes, or a character falls head over heels in love, or something else happens to do with Big Emotional results, it’s more likely that the non-emotional consequences are still there next week. Going to see how your father died when you were a baby is very different from dealing with your father dying right now. The Big Emotional Episode isn’t isolated in the way it would be in Doctor Who itself. Something to consider when preparing to run one.

This isn’t 100% the case, of course, there’s at least one Big Emotional Episode in Torchwood S1 with no fallout at all. But let’s try...

The less episodic setup can make a Big Emotional Episode stick out like a sore thumb if it isn’t integrated well. There are still ways to isolate it, of course - set the triggering events away from the normal setting, for example. You could also set this up as a solo episode, so none of the other PCs knows what the character involved really went through.

Or, at a pinch, explain everybody’s erratic behaviour as the result of a broken alien mind probe or something and make a joke out of the reset button and the lack of further impact. Don’t do that too often, of course - when discussing the equivalent episode in my Buffy season in TWH, I called it The One Where Everybody Acts Out Of Character.

Example: The Girl Who Lost Her Way

Our resident alien abductee receives a call - the friend who was with her when they both disappeared has been found, wandering the country, unable to talk about where she’s been. The abductee’s painful experiences and her lack of proof are all dredged up again, as she is questioned by the police and regarded with suspicion by her friend’s family...

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