Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Highly-recommended Sci-Fi: Torchwood: Children of Earth

I'm a huge fan of science fiction and growing up in rural coastal Maine in the 70s/80s, it was scarce on TV. The various New England PBS stations did air Doctor Who, and I got hooked on it's cheezy effects and charms.

Fast-forward to 2005 and the BBC re-launches Doctor Who with vastly improved, but still somewhat hokey, effects and some stellar writing and acting. After his great guest shot starting in "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances", Capt. Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) was given his own more adult spin-off, Torchwood (an anagram of Doctor Who). With far less happy endings and much more moral ambiguity, it had a distinctly different vibe and tone than the generally more fun-loving Doctor Who.

After two seasons, Torchwood was moved to BBC1 ( I guess the more prestigious BBC channel) and given a short, five episode third season. It was aired as a "Five Night Event!" miniseries last week here in the States. And it was amazing. If you are new to Doctor Who and Torchwood, I'd recommend watching at least the DW eps involving Capt. Jack and Torchwood itself prior to watching. Otherwise, given the dense mythology of essentially TWO series, you'll be lost. Once you are up to speed and dive in, you'll be hooked. It's better than the previous two Torchwood series and even most Doctor Who episodes. It grabs you and just doesn't let up. And unlike me, you can watch it all at once on the just-released DVD sets: http://www.amazon.com/Torchwood-Children-Earth-John-Barrowman/dp/B002BVYBJW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1248801656&sr=8-1

You'll be better off not reading any reviews or recaps of Children of Earth. It's best to see it unspoiled. Suffice it to say, it's probably something that could never have been made for American TV. And that's a very good thing.

Here is the minimum you need to watch for Capt. Jack background. Series 2 of Doctor Who features tons of Torchwood bits, including how it's founded, it's FAR future, and other background that is more or less covered in early Torchwood episodes. I'd recommend watching all the Doctor Who just because it's excellent, although it does have some dud episodes like all shows do.

Doctor Who Series 1 (w/Christopher Ecclestone): "The Empty Child" through "The Parting of the Ways"
Torchwood Season 1
Doctor Who Series 3 (w/David Tennant): "Utopia"/"The Sound of Drums"/"Last of the Time Lords"
Torchwood Season 2
Doctor Who Series 4 (w/David Tennant): "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End"


Friend Mouse said...

I'm such a doofus: I had no clue that Torchwood was an anagram for Doctor Who. And I call myself a detail person!

Mary said...

It's sad, I've never heard of any of those.