Time and Again is, obviously, a take on the time loop scenario, mot commonly called the ‘Groundhog Day’ trope since the comedy film of that title where Bill Murray lives the same day over and over and over again.
It is obviously a scenario that has potential for both comedy and serious situations. The Wikipedia entry for ‘time loop’ gives countless examples in film, TV, literature and video games which explore both possibilities. I can remember seeing a film many years ago in which the time repeating itself was not a whole day, but a gradually decreasing interval until only a few seconds were looping around and around and escape was impossible. One day I might try to do something on those lines. I haven’t been able to work out what the film was called, or anything else about it, and Google, Wikipedia and other sources have drawn a blank, so it’s possible that one can be safely reworked, having been forgotten about by everyone but me.
Meanwhile, this story is my second variation on the Groundhog Theme. In my Tenth Doctor series, the story Saving Dodo has The Doctor repeating the day of the first Live Aid concert in 1985, trying to save his former companion Dodo Chaplet from being murdered.
This version of the time loop has Jack reliving the same day in which his family are attacked by Saul Galen. First Garrett is murdered by a car bomb then both Garrett and Gray are killed by him. Long before Bill Murray called time on his loop, Jack decides he isn’t going to put up with any more of it and there is a final showdown with Galen that puts an end to this multi-story plotline. I could probably have gone on for a few more episodes with Galen as a nemesis for Jack, but I think it was time to draw a line under it before the Christmas story.
There is a subtext within this story about the nature of ‘family’ and of loving relationships. The second was what I had in mind when I wrote this impassioned statement from Jack:-
When I wrote that, I was thinking of one of the saddest films I have seen in many a year, A Single Man, starring Colin Firth as a gay man who has trouble coming to terms with the death of his lover mainly because his friends fail to understand that two men really can love each other the way a man and a woman do. I think this says it all.
Since I wrote this story in mid-2011, though, the equal marriage issue has reached new levels of hysteria, with the opponents, mostly religious types, talking about marriage and family being irredeemably redefined by the ‘outrageous’ idea that same sex couples are the same as one man one woman couples and that families with same sex parents are the same as families with a mother and a father. This, apparently, will lead to the breakdown of marriage and family as we know it and the end of civilised society. As Bill Murray and friends say in another of his films – “Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes... The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!”
Seriously, it is coming. People in nice suburban houses with two car garages and neat and tidy lawns be prepared. Your neighbours could well be a nice, respectable, law-abiding professional couple who happen to consist of dad, dad and children or mum, mum and children. It can happen, and it will. It won’t affect the value of your house. It won’t corrupt your children. The sky won’t fall in.
Which brings us to the happy ending that doesn’t tend to happen in Torchwood - Jack, Garrett and the boys moving into their new home in the respectable Roath Park district of Cardiff and waking up on a bright new day with their lives before them. That’s how it ought to be. Torchwood is a hard knock kind of series. But I think it has been played for shocks one too many times on TV. Miracle Day was the limit. Jack needs happy endings, too.