Paul’s BBC America Obsession, Day Three: Torchwood!

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Torchwood's Jack Harkness

Continuing my coverage of my recent obsession with BBC America, I’m going to talk about a show I’m relatively new to, and only picked up because of a recent critically acclaimed mini-series originally meant to be the show’s third season, Torchwood.

Torchwood is a Doctor Who spin-off surrounding Jack Harkness and his Torchwood team, who investigate extraterrestrial incidents on Earth and scavenges the alien technology for its own use.  They’re separate from the government, outside the police, and beyond the United Nations.

Unlike Doctor Who, which is more of a family-friendly science fiction show, Torchwood is an edgy, violent, very sexual show that pushes the boundaries of television unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.

More after the jump, including a chance to get some free Torchwood of your own!

Torchwood: Children of Earth was originally intended to be the third series of Torchwood but, as a way of doing something special to draw in new viewers, rather than air the typical thirteen episodes of Torchwood-y goodness, they did a five-part miniseries, which aired last week on BBC America and can still be found on DVD at your local Best Buy or on Amazon.com for a pretty affordable price.

As I mentioned before, I didn’t get into Torchwood until the recent season three mini series.  As a spin-off of Doctor Who, I was unsure that I’d be able to get into Torchwood.  After all, I’ve never seen an episode of Doctor Who and it’s about eleven seasons in – it’s very intimidating to try to get into a show that’s been around for so long.  And spinning out of that with its own mythology, it seemed like trying to get into this show after not even seeing the show it came from would be impossible.  Of course, then again, I didn’t see an episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer until Angel started.  Still, I didn’t turn on Torchwood until last week.

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The cast of Torchwood: Children of Earth

What helped me out was that, right before the premiere episode of Children of Earth, BBC America aired a program entitled Torchwood Declassified, an hour-long special that summarized the first two seasons of the show perfectly.  The program was so effective that when it showed the death of two main cast members, even though I had only known them for forty-five minutes, it was a very heartbreaking and tragic scene.  My wife even cried!  She also got a kick when they showed Buffy’s James Marsters guest appearance, which involved a make-out session with lead character Jack Harkness (John Barrowman).

Which is one of the stand-out aspects of Torchwood: its forward thinking.  Harkness is called, by both cast and crew, an “omni-sexual.”  He’s an immortal man who happens to also be bisexual – his charisma is apparently so strong that even straight men are attracted to him.  It’s unusual seeing a show so forward in its thinking – the romance in the show isn’t limited to man-woman relationships.  Both gay and straight relationships are showing in a very honest, very non-shock value way.  It’s refreshing to see a show so forward in its thinking, and such honest human relationships in a science fiction program.

Great acting, great writing, and a perfect jumping on point for new viewers?  Torchwood: Children of Earth is just about the best type of science fiction that TV has to offer – heart breaking and emotional, smart and scary, and a joy to watch.

And…maybe you want to see it?  I think you just might!  Especially if you want it…FOR FREE!  Anyone who leaves a comment on this post will be randomly entered into a drawing to win a DVD edition of Torchwood: Children of Earth!  Just a quick note on rules – winners must be within the continental United States and will be chosen at random.  Contest ends Wednesday, August 12th @ 5pm EST.

Next up on my BBC America Obsession…ROBIN HOOD!

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The BBC's Robin Hood!

15 comments on “Paul’s BBC America Obsession, Day Three: Torchwood!Add yours →

  1. He took me to Dragon*Con, so I suppose he did. I didn’t get to see or meet James Marsters ,one of my two reasons for going, I really wouldn’t have cared to go or not otherwise…So that left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. But D*C was awesome.

  2. Ha!

    Hey Jonathan – sorry about that. I notified the winner directly, instead of announcing it on the site! Hope your wife got a decent anniversary gift!

    P

  3. I haven’t seen any Dr. Who before but I’ve had friends who have been telling me that Torchwood is great.

  4. Children of Earth was brilliant. Still not speaking to RTD. Can’t wait for the fall and more Doctor Who.

  5. I have no idea where I read that Doctor Who was 11 years on TV – I knew the character’s been around since the 60’s, but for some reason I thought the show had been on for 11 years (in it’s current incarnation) – my apologies! Now I definitely think I’ll try to catch up.

    And, totally agree about the death in CoE.

  6. I think Torchwood has really hit its stride. I was devastated by the 1 death (don’t want to spoil it) in Children of Earth.

    As for Doctor Who, the entire run of the show has been on for a little more than 11 years (1963) and the newest incarnation for 3+

  7. Torchwood has always been rather good at pushing the envelope and the Captain Jack character has gone through some very interesting and subtle changes since his first appearance on Doctor Who. I think overall they’ve done a very good job of keeping continuity together for all three of the Doctor Who shows they’ve got running right now.

  8. I am so torn. I am not sure I would even watch it again, but it would go onto the shelf with my other collections.

    I, for the record, still hate RTD.

  9. Hey Paul (and greetings from bbca), I can also give you a little back info to help you fill in more pieces. The decision to turn CoE into a miniseries stemmed from when the BBC announced severe production cutbacks for 2009. All three Doctor Who shows (there’s also a ‘tween spinoff based on a favorite DOctor Who character, the Sarah Jane Adventures) were reduced from 13 episodes to 5. For Doctor Who they chose to air five “specials”, but the five ep scenario enabled creator Russell T. Davies to adapt a miniseries he had already been toying with, CHildren of Earth, to fit the Torchwood characters.

    Also, if you do want to go back and catch up on Doctor Who, this is series (season) 5 of the revamping of the series which was brought back in 2005. The show has aired off and on since 1963. If you liked Captain JAck you really need to see his origins in series (season) 1 with Christopher Eccleston, and he also appeared in series three with David Tennant.

    BTW, love the site…..

  10. I can see why Children of Earth did so well, both here and in the UK. People were starved for Torchwood and they did a really bang-up job promoting it before it aired. And while over I liked the mini-series and I’ll certainly buy it if I don’t win a copy here, there were several aspects of it that I really didn’t care for and showed that while RTD is an excellent show-runner and executive producer, he’s not the greatest television writer.

  11. I’ve already got Children of Earth on DVD but I did want to add my accolades to Paul’s. It’s funny, sharp, and very entertaining. Check out of Children of Earth!

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