Torchwood - with Martha Jones - (c) BBC
Torchwood – with Martha Jones – (c) BBC

Torchwood: Reset

Broadcast on February 13th 2008 @ 9.50pm (850,000 viewers)

‘Reset’ was the sixth episode of Torchwood’s second series and was the first episode to have an advanced broadcast on BBC Three, immediately following the broadcast of the previous episode ‘Adam’ on BBC Two. The episode would then make its terrestrial debut on BBC Two a week later, February 20th and was also edited for a pre-watershed broadcast at 7pm the following day. Across those three screenings the episode was watched by a total of just over 5 million viewers.

There is a throwback to 1980’s Doctor Who with a loose trilogy of stories, ‘Reset’ beginning what can be termed the ‘Martha Jones’ trilogy. However, as will be explained later, the trio of episodes becomes not about her but another member of the Torchwood team. The inclusion of Freema Agyeman as Martha Jones is an interesting one. That character first debuted in 2007 for David Tennant’s second series in the lead role beginning with the episode ‘Smith and Jones’ and became the Doctor’s companion for the remainder of that series. For fans of any show with a spinoff it is always an exciting moment when the two programmes intersect and often see a boost in viewing figures. But the possibility of the Doctor showing up on Torchwood was completely out of the question, so therefore we get the most recent companion seen by viewers popping up instead. Martha Jones is one of the strongest companions of the modern era, her competencies proved by her medical training and as a result she values the title of Doctor more than most. As a result the character slips seamlessly into the Torchwood team because of her knowledge which offers helpful expertise and not just to provide a cheap cameo. She would also prove to fill a new vacancy created in the episodes memorable moment.

Memorable Moment (Spoiler Warning)

The conclusion of this episode is particularly dramatic and very unexpected. However, when it is analysed a little the scene falls apart. Torchwood are closing down the operations at the Pharm, Tosh typing away on her laptop as they exit the building, with the white coat wearing Plummer being led away at gun point by Gwen. Curious by his absence is the man in charge, Professor Copley, who it seems was just left behind and not arrested. As a result, he shows up and aims his gun at Martha. Owen, full of himself for saving her life moments earlier steps in the way and gets himself shot. Copley then does the painfully ridiculous of having shot one individual but needing to threaten Martha once again to allow Jack enough time to fire instead. Although, the execution of this scene is messy the result is nonetheless shocking with Owen Harper clearly killed. Earlier in the episode viewers are made aware that Tosh has feelings for Owen, the reverse of what had occurred in the previous episode ‘Adam’ and rounding of the trio of female Torchwood members to have had romantic encounters with him after Gwen and Suzie Costello in series 1. This is a signpost indicator that something might happen in order to illicit the maximum emotional response from the characters which would continue in the next episode ‘Dead Man Walking’ and the final story in the trilogy ‘A Day in the Death’.

As a result of the episode’s dramatic conclusion the rest of the story is sadly overshadowed which is a shame because the plot is particularly interesting. In the same way that humanity has sought to use elements found on Earth for its own ends, it is a logical extension to utilise that which is beyond our planet. This concept asks questions of the morality of harvesting creatures such as the Mayfly and the Weevil, even if it is to cure something such as HIV. A ‘factory reset’ which restores a human being’s bodily functions to a normal setting of health is a dream of science that is not likely to be found but on this occasion makes for a solid piece of thought-provoking drama.

Also a little shout-out to Michael Williams who plays the deceased Barry Leonard in this episode but has since gone on to become an Assistant Director on Doctor Who, including ‘Flatline’ in 2015, and a number of other shows.

Also first aired On This Day…

  • The Web Planet
  • The Mind of Evil : Episode 3
  • Torchwood : Adam
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Assistant Director (uncredited) on Doctor Who episodes ‘Dark Water/Death in Heaven’, ‘Last Christmas’, 'The Return of Doctor Mysterio' and ‘Thin Ice’. A fan and collector since 6 years of age having watched Doctor Who repeats on BBC2. Equally enthusiastic about Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures. Lucky enough to own original costumes worn by Freema Agyeman, John Barrowman and Elisabeth Sladen. Author of a book chronicling the history of Doctor Who exhibitions available now from Telos Publishing.


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