Review of Torchwood – and other similar TV series



This started out as a review of Torchwood, but has evolved into a review of all TV series that share the genre.  The reason for this is simple – they always make the same mistake.

Now, I loved Torchwood, just as I loved X files, Haven, Stargate SG1, Primeval and all the others like them, (apart from Dr Who, I hate that one.)  The first couple of seasons are fantastic; the team consists of likeable, real characters with enough charisma to look good on TV, without being too ‘made up,’ and the storyline consists of interesting adventures, with a new and exciting episode each week.  There is enough danger to keep you on the edge of your seat, fantastic effects, and no bothersome sub plots to get in the way.

And that’s the problem, that last one in the list – the sub plots.  It’s always the same with every series.  The first two seasons are great, but then they can’t help themselves, they have to make it all political (in the case of the American ones) or introduce complicated and unnecessary intrigue between the characters.  Why do the programme makers always do this?  No one likes it when this happens, and in my opinion, this is why series’ tend to fall apart after the first couple of seasons.

The only series I’ve seen that hasn’t yet made this mistake, is Supernatural.  They almost did, almost.  The first couple of seasons that Crowley was part of, became laborious and boring with his constant fucking things up.  It was predictable and I worried that I might go off the series.  Thankfully though, the programme makers must have had a moment of enlightenment, because they quickly got over that and the series is still wonderful.

I loved the first season of Torchwood, I loved the first two seasons of X files, the first two or three of SG1, the first season of Primeval and the first of Haven, and I look back on them with a mixture of fondness and disappointment.  They could have been fantastic, they could still be popular now if they had just kept it the way we like it.  Simple and enjoyable.  Science fiction is about escapism and I don’t want government cover ups in every single series, or double agents within the team, or bosses with different agendas.  I want to be entertained.

Please, programme makers, give us a series we can enjoy without all that crap.

The Sleep Room – Review

sleep room


I purchased this book from a supermarket in my local town for £1.95.  I will admit, it was the cover and title that caught my eye initially.  I have never heard of F R Tallis before.  After reading the blurb on the back, I decided it was worth risking the, thankfully low, price.

This book was sufficient to make me want to keep reading it, and I read it all in one day.  After the last three books I read, which all were so painfully awful I couldn’t read more than a couple of pages a day, it was a pleasure to get engrossed.  The story centres around Dr Richardson, a psychiatrist, who goes to work at Wyldehope Hall, a secluded home for the mentally ill, in rural Suffolk.  Spooky goings on make Dr Richardson wonder what is really going on and the book takes on a typical supernatural overtone.

Once I got through chapter one, I had to switch off my ‘author’s head’ and try to look at it purely as a reader, because I soon found some editing mistakes.  The book is written in first person, and there are many consecutive sentences that begin with the word, “I.”  This is probably the most well known thing not to do in first person and Mr Tallis needs to change his editor for so basic a thing to be missed.  The next thing I noticed was in the paragraph that ended page seventeen and began page eighteen.

“I followed Mr Hartley up to the first floor landing, where we passed beneath a stag’s head with glassy black eyes.  When we reached the second floor landing, Mr Hartley unlocked another door, switched on a light, and invited me to enter a wide hallway which had rooms adjoining it on both sides.”

The use of the name Mr Hartley twice in consecutive sentences is, again, a glaring error in editing.  The second occurence of the name should be switched with the word, “he.”

After noticing both of these editing errors, I made a huge effort to switch off my author/editor head.  Things didn’t improve.

I have always been a huge fan of James Herbert, the very famous horror writer.  I’ve read every book he’s written and would have dearly loved to continue doing so, had he not gone and died recently.  Mr Herbert’s last book before he passed away so tragically, was called Ash, and although not his best work, wasn’t at all bad.

Ash was published on 30th August 2012, (according to Amazon).

The Sleep Room was published on 4th July 2013 (according to Amazon).

With the exception of one or two points, The Sleep Room follows the story of Ash so closely it is both worrying and embarrassing.  If I were a suspicious sort of person, I could suspect Mr Tallis of knocking off one of the most highly respected authors of our time.  It could, of course, be pure coincidence that Mr Tallis just happened to think of an almost identical storyline to that of Mr Herbert.  He might not ever have heard of this most famous of authors, despite the fact that he writes in the same genre.  Anything is possible.

The problem is, James Herbert has a lot, and I mean a lot, of fans who will have read Ash.  If they also happen to stumble upon The Sleep Room and decide, as it’s the same genre, to read it, they will come away thinking Mr Tallis has ripped off Mr Herbert’s story and be pretty annoyed.  And there’s the rub, even if he hasn’t deliberately copied the storyline, people who know James Herbert will think he has, and they will talk.  I noticed it and I will talk.

The way publishing is nowadays, we are the sole trustees of our own integrity.  With almost no legislation and quality control going on, it is up to us to make sure our work is not only of a high standard, but also that it is unique.  To not do so, not only  harms you but harms all authors.

The twist at the end is also a direct copy of the one in the movie, Shutter Island.  This also bring the whole book into question, for me anyway.  Mr Tallis would do well, if he is at all concerned with his brand and his integrity, to take the book down and re-write it, making it unique to himself.

As I said, Mr Tallis may not have deliberately copied James Herbert.  It may be coincidence.  But now that he does know how closely this book follows Mr Herbert’s, does he care enough about his public image and integrity to change things?

I cannot give this book any more than 2 stars, simply because of the disturbing similarity between it, and James Herbert’s Ash.