Let’s Talk Torchwood

Let’s Talk Torchwood

Many who know me know I’m a series Doctor Who fan. I may not be able to hang with the more pedantic crowd quoting lines and show notes, but I will carve out time in my day to always catch an episode when it’s available.

Tom Baker as Doctor Who

My fandom has a very similar story to most of you as I joined the show in the Tom Baker years catching it on PBS here in the states. Doctor Who is very much a part of the collective consciousness of fandom these days so much so that I think some people who aren’t fans could encounter a sense of alienation. When I attend conventions in any of a number of genres, if you don’t have an opinion on or even like the new series you may find yourself on the outskirts of many conversations. Personally, I can’t fathom not liking the concept but I certainly understand there are those who just don’t get it. I sometimes wonder if my growing up with these characters may make me overlook some of the plot holes Ginny Tonic takes such joy in pointing out as we watch.

What is more controversial is the series Torchwood. I’ll claim allegiance to the spin-off franchise. I was there from episode one, hung on every airing of the first two seasons, witnessed the culmination of the series (in my opinion) with Children of Earth and was there for the narrative demise that was, Miracle Day, the fourth season on Starz. There is talk of a fifth season, but I fear where it would lead so I’m conflicted on what I want for the future of these characters. When concerns were raised about the series moving to Starz, I would often tell fellow fans I would take any story that still involved Captain Jack. The Starz season made me question that statement.

Ianto Jones, Captain Jack Harkness and Gwen Cooper

Captain Jack Harkness was always a driving force for me in the series. He broke sexual norms, he was full of joy for life, but maintained a depth of character that was both engaging and often flat out sexy, I don’t care what your gender preference lies.

The twists and unexpected turns this series took were a joy to watch. It quickly became television I not only sought out but considered destination TV anytime a new episode aired as it was one of those rare series that seemed to challenge expectations and kept me guessing where it would head next. I’ll even go so far as to commit the ultimate sacrilege and share the fact that, when faced with a new Dr. Who in the DVR cue at the same time as Torchwood, Captain Jack and Gwen tended to be watch first in my home. That’s saying a lot.

Children of Earth was the peak for this series for me and my focus here. If you haven’t seen it, you need to take the time to watch it. Presented as a five day mini-series that replaced series/season 3 for the show it had a higher budget than the prior episodes and that would help but in truth it was the writing which amazed me.

The miniseries takes place somewhat in real time over five days as an alien race, known as the 456, attempt to invade and threaten the entire human race for the sole purpose of taking the children of earth. This story was one part Torchwood, one part unwinnable moral dilemma and an all-hands-on-deck emotional ride for the viewer. Within these five days, we’re faced with the emotional rush of a good, fast paced action, unquestionable sadness of unexpected heartbreak and the eerie feeling that an end of the world dilemma could, in many ways, breakdown society and its moral code in a very short order. With that in mind, you have a heck of a Torchwood event.

Children of Earth

To say I enjoyed this mini-series would be an understatement. In my eye, Torchwood has never been better than it was in these five episodes and may very well never be again. Here each of the characters were humanized through the introduction of family in ways that made perfect sense within the story. That said, each situation was a bit unique to that character. I felt depth within the story that isn’t always here for this series. Along the way, some especially adult themes were explored. I’m not talking “sexy” adult as much as morally grey, intellectually interesting storytelling. At many points, the viewer is left wondering how they would handle these situations? In this series, everyone has their own personal flaws and the story doesn’t hide those weaknesses, but rather builds on them in some appreciably relatable ways.

Simply put, this was great television.

As society came apart, so did the team in many ways. It’s a deconstruction that was fascinating to watch and ranks up there with Battlestar Galactica as some of the most enjoyable television I’ve sampled in a long while. I did not want this mini to end and ABSOLUTELY wanted to know what comes next for these characters. Sadly what came next wasn’t pretty but that is a post for another day.

As a series that caught US appeal for both Doctor Who fans and non-fans alike, I advise giving Torchwood a try if you missed it. I feel you won’t be disappointed.

One Responseto “Let’s Talk Torchwood”

  1. Calamity Dawn says:

    Children of Earth is some of the best TV ever. It was actually where I started Torchwood, so I went backwards on it. I’ve not seen Miracle Day and not sure I want to…