Fact: Until the mid-19th century, if you bought anchovies, they would be bright red in colour. That's because they used to be dyed with lead oxide, which is in fact toxic. Initially, shopkeepers were extremely sceptical about getting rid of the lead, because they were sure that nobody would want to buy anchovies that looked brown and horrid.
And next, our final dose of afternoon 'Wood for the week. Here are a few thoughts on The Dead Line:
- Gosh, Jack's dying -- now THAT's an attention-grabbing start to proceedings. I assume he'll revive by Monday, though, or next week's TV is going to be a bit empty.
- What did Jack get up to with chiffon scarves in 1974? I'm wondering if his look in those days was inspired by Jason King (if anyone can carry off the outfit in the bottom left corner, Jack's surely the man).
- And speaking of bizarre fashion images, how about Ianto in sideburns with a Mexican moustache? Admittedly, he turns down the chance for a bit of pimptastic roleplay, but I reckon he's just playing hard to get. After hours in the Hub, when the mirrorball comes out, who knows what will go down...
- Ah, I remember those two-tone grey phones from the 70s. (Of course, I was too young to actually phone anyone then, hem hem.)
- I liked Stella, Jack's ex from the 70s: it's hard being a supporting character in these things, but she brought a lovely warmth to proceedings, a certain trustworthiness to the technobabbly bits, and an admirably flirty streak ("It was a medical, you didn't score. Not this time."). Good work there.
- Rhys thinks Jack is Captain Scarlet! I must confess, I've often thought the same thing myself.
I also note that Phil Ford, who wrote this, also wrote for the recent Captain Scarlet revival, so he's presumably a fan.
- Irregularities in financial institutions are two a penny in these credit-crunch days, but it's a good thing that the Cardiff and West Building Society is not a real company or else their profits would be plummeting, what with their creepy care home for the phone-dead and THEIR EYES. (Brrr.)
- This is quite a shippy episode all round, isn't it, with some charming Gwen/Rhys banter, Rhys getting his action man credentials out (nudge nudge), and Gwen actually trusting him to do so for once.
- But of course, what the nations of the world are no doubt swooning over was poor Ianto the Blip, with his stoic love and loyalty despite his sincere belief that it's Never Going To Last, Is It. Bless him, the little sweetie. Beautifully played from GDL, and I apologize for doubting him after some less than subtle line readings a couple of days ago. He can certainly pull it out of the bag when he needs to (if you know what I mean).
- The electrical storm of technobabble at the end was probably the weakest link in the episode, but I was still mentally petting Ianto on the head at the time, and he figures it all out with his COFFEE-POWERED BRANE, so I'll let it pass quite happily.
- Oh, how much do I want to see a 1970s Torchwood flashback now! Never mind the Saturday Night Fever suit -- I've always pictured Seventies!Jack as more like Oliver Tobias in The Stud, but with a bigger raygun.
- "You never will be just a blip in time, Ianto Jones." Then the romantic music swells and we can all imagine whatever we'd like to happen next. (Rhys will no doubt be picturing everyone having a cup of tea at this point, but he's probably the only one.)
- In conclusion: if you're only going to listen to one dose of the Torchradio Show, this one's got to be the winner. A quality production with plenty of verve, some nice bits of wit, and a real emotional connection with the characters that makes this seem much more like a TV episode than the is-it-canon does-it-matter tales from earlier in the week.
And now we must wait for Monday, and whatever the next week may televisually bring. Which reminds me: I must stock up on gin...