The television series Torchwood was produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation, with creator Mr. Russell T Davies. Episodes vary in both length and subject matter, but all are filmed in full colour.
Sadly, the first episode of the series offers almost nothing of interest to the meat processing professional. A proposed life-restoring glove would certainly make waves in almost every industry, but this interesting avenue is entirely ignored by Mr. Davies and his team. That they instead chose to focus on a dull story of serial murder suggests much about their commitment to an engaging narrative.
The story of the episode deals with the disappearance of a number of people from the Welsh countryside, and the discovery that their bodies have been stripped of muscle and organs, for consumption. I confess to being puzzled by the plot. The episode hinges on the supposedly shocking revelation that the killings are performed, not by aliens, but by the inhabitants of the local area. I fail to see why Mr. Davies believes the alien explanation would ever appear the most plausible. In thousands of years of human history, we have yet to be visited by any beings from another planet. And yet murders happen every day.
That being said, I must congratulate Mr. Davies on avoiding so many of the pitfalls that amateurs encounter when their work deals with the more experimental avenues of protein consumption. Cannibalism is rarely a logical choice, but in this case, with a steady supply of healthy bodies delivered via tourism, it would seem to be a sensible one. That being said, the villager’s choice of meat tenderizing technique, a baseball bat applied before death, is a strange one. It will not yield any noticeable improvements, and indeed is likely to reduce the quality.
Indeed, the fact that the antagonists in this story do not appear to be in full possession of their wits is another case where Mr. Davies gets it right. Consuming the brains or spinal columns of your own species leaves one open to many forms of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy. Fellow professionals will recall the outbreak of so-called “mad cow disease” in Britain, which began when cows were fed with cow remains. A similar disease, Kuru, awaits those human beings who chose to sample their fellows.
This episode begins with the discovery of a trailer full of mysterious meat – meat that is revealed to come from the body of a near-immortal whale-like creature. I confess to feeling some excitement when I turned to this tale. Surely, Mr. Davies would pay close attention to accuracy, when dealing with an episode so firmly situated in the world of meat production.
In many ways, the man does appear to have done his homework. The insertion of suspect meat into the food supply is hardly unknown. But there are sill major problems with the tale.
Yes, the apparent self-healing qualities of the beast mean that, for once, live meat harvesting is not an entirely foolish idea. But the episode never indicates where the animal gets the energy to continue to heal in this manner. And never mind the worker’s assertation that it does, in fact, grow. Mr. Davies, I ask you, how can anything grow without fuel?
To make protein, plants and animals require a host of energy dependent chemical reactions. Where is this energy to come from? There is no indication that the creature is being fed, and the lack of windows or hydrothermal vents make it unlikely that any photosynthetic or chemosynthetic process is occurring. In the absence of a clear energy source, are we to believe that the whale is performing some sort of rudimentary, nuclear fission? I am afraid my disbelief can only be suspended so far.
In summary, I sadly find myself unable to recommend Torchwood for the serious viewer. While Mr Davies certainly has an active imagination,, he proves himself incapable of following his ideas through to their logical conclusion. I understand that he has now moved onto a more vegetable matter-orientated show, and it must be hoped that he will be very happy there.
Helen lives in the UK, where she works in science media and wastes too much time online. She has a degree in the history of science.