on 11 July 2009
I've been a fan of Torchwood from the very beginning and think this mini season is easily the best yet.
Torchwood - Children of Earth follows Captain Jack Harkness and the Torchwood team (or at least what's left of it) as they try and find out exactly what is causing every single child on the earth to stand still and repeat in unison 'we are coming' - whilst at the same time trying to escape the government who are determined to destroy them. The plot thickens during the 5 episode series as it turns out that the '456' has been to earth once before, to London, where we gave them 12 children one of whom escaped and now an elderly man, can re-tell the story of what happened all those years ago.
One thing that irked me considerably in the normal series was the 'baddie of the week' formula, which of course is abscent here as there is the same threat prominent throughout all 5 hour long episodes, and boy what a difference is makes! The acting is of course fautless, the plot clever, dark and twisted, the script, filming and camera work perfect. In fact, I don't think I have any faults at all, except perhaps that there were certain episodes which felt very slow moving in parts, and maybe there could have been a few more laughs.
I hope this isn't the last we see of Torchwood, though if it is, this is a perfect send off with a very poignant ending.
on 17 August 2009
I was eagerly awaiting the new episodes of Torchwood. The first four episodes were brilliant. Riveting, well acted, well directed, some sneaky misdirection, some new background for the characters.
But... our heroes spent the entire time passively reacting. Why would they even consider going into the enemy stronghold with no plan? A dumb idea that didn't even have the payoff of a plot device. Huge swathes of time involved the alleged 'protagonists' sitting in front of a computer screen watching exposition. Pointless death, and far too much proselytising on the theme of governmental corruption. If I wanted to watch something so bleak and pointlessly depressing, I'd watch the news.
This is not the Torchwood I've known. The earlier seasons could be bleak, sure. But they also had hope, and charm, and enthusiasm. You got the feeling that the writers cared about the characters.
I would be giving a very different review if episode 5 had given the payoff for the darkness of the first 4. If the writers had figured out a way for Torchwood to beat the baddie, then this would have been an excellent miniseries. But no, team Torchwood passively reacted to an uncharacteristically dark plot, cracked under pressure, and then hid.
If you watch this, then consider just watching up to three quarters of the way through episode 4, and make up your own ending. It will be more satisfying that way, I promise.
on 2 August 2009
Past Torchwood I've found to be hit and miss.
The new format is great, sort of a Dr Who for adults!
The Children of Earth was very creepy, exciting... loved to dark backstory of Capt'n Jack and that the government would sell out to aliens!!! The fate of the children shown at the start was shocking!
This is actually really good Science Fiction!!! I hope there's more of this and that future episodes are as scary.
If Torchwood could have less gay-flirting and less promotion of Cardiff, it would get a 100% vote.
Maybe a Torchwood in different times with a trans series story arc. ie prequel in Victorian times following on from the werewolf episode in Dr Who to whereever!???
on 5 August 2009
While visually stunning and flawlessly acted, this abbreviated 'season' of science fiction drama Torchwood ultimately snuffed out my love for the show. With plot holes big enough to fill a TARDIS, the storyline will leave you bitter and angry. Even the irrepressible Captain Jack Harkness seems at a loss for where to go, what to do, and ultimately surrenders his humanity in the face of the alien threat. This story brings out the worst in everyone, especially the writers. A textbook case of destroying a fantastic television show.
on 13 July 2009
Earlier Torchwood series seemed rather confused in tone and approach, wondering whether they should embrace being a Dr Who spinoff or seek their own territory. Happily, with this amazing drama the creator, Russell T Davies, has found the true way for Torchwood; a Quatermass for the 21st Century. Truly grownup TV and most welcome for that. Congratulations BBC, and more please.
In 1965 the British government had a shadowy series of contacts with an advanced alien species known only as the '456' (four-five-six), named after the radio frequency they used. The results of that contact were classified, but involved twelve children being handed over to them for purposes unknown. Unbeknown to the government, one of those children escaped and has grown up haunted by his memories of that experience.
In 2010 all the children in the world simultaneously stop and announce, "We are coming." The governments of the world investigate, as do the members of Torchwood, an organisation based in Cardiff designed to investigate alien threats to Earth. However, when Torchwood comes close to exposing the secrets of forty-five years earlier, the government outlaws the group and tries to have them eliminated. Civil servant Mr. Frobisher is put on the front line by the Prime Minister as he has to negotiate with the aliens, who have indeed returned...
When Torchwood launched in 2006, it was billed as Doctor Who's more adult, darker cousin. Broadcast after 9pm on BBC-3, it was supposed to take the Whoniverse in a new and more interesting direction. Unfortunately, it appeared at the time that 'darker' and 'more adult' actually translated as 'some swearing' and 'everyone on the cast is gay (kind of)'. Season 1 of Torchwood is at times borderline unwatchable. Season 2 started moving in the right direction, with some better writing and some blatant-but-amusing fanservice (James 'Spike' Marsters from Buffy and Angel as another time agent who naturally cops off with Captain Jack), but it still wasn't fulfilling its mission statement.
With the third season, the BBC decided to try something different. With Doctor Who off the air for the year (four TV specials aside), they decided to not only promote Torchwood to primetime BBC-1 status, but to turn it into a five-hour mini-series airing across one week. With a level of serialisation unmatched by anything that Doctor Who has done since its return in 2005 and with producer Russell T. Davies able to exert more influence over the project (as his tenure on Who winds down and Steven Moffatt gears up to take over), it was hoped that the series would finally take off. Fans were sceptical, but intriguing trailers and a steady drip-feed of news items from the BBC convinced a lot of people to tune in and give the show the benefit of the doubt.
And, against all the odds, it worked. Torchwood: Children of the Earth, as it has been dubbed, has won more acclaim than anything else related to new Doctor Who since its return four years ago. It moves with a ferocious sense of purpose, more like 24 than anything else, and its long running time allows characters to be explored more thoroughly and the storyline to unfold more logically than in the regular 45-minute episodes. They also got in some experienced scriptwriters from shows like Spooks to help work on the structure and tone of the mini-series. It genuinely is now adult. Ianto and Jack's relationship is portrayed more naturally and in keeping with the story rather than for any sensationalist reasons. Mr Frobisher's arc is stunningly well-handled, with guest star Peter Capaldi (the angel Islington from Neverwhere, among many other fine roles) giving an astonishing and award-worthy performance above and beyond the call of duty.
The mini-series doesn't pull any punches. Whilst the conclusion to the story is a little contrived (featuring RTD's preferred resolution of characters talking technobabble and pounding intently on keyboards until some fancy CGI kicks in), it isn't without cost. This isn't a neat ending at all and leaves quite a few of the characters seriously mentally scarred for life. The tone is pretty bleak, with only a few rays of sunshine allowed to appear at the end.
It isn't all great. The music for new Who and Torchwood has always been jarringly out of place and too loud in the mix, and it's still the same in this series. There's also a lot of shots of the characters running around various corridors and streets which sometimes seem to have been dropped in to make up the running time, but this is actually much reduced from its normal prevalence in the regular episodes. The story also requires the British government (and many of the other world governments) to behave in a snivelling and cowardly manner which led me to ponder if the writers were trying to make some kind of political point. I like to think the human race is better than Children of Earth makes us out to be. But these problems are minor.
Torchwood: Children of Earth (****½) is a shockingly good piece of British SF, easily the best thing to come out of the new Doctor Who since its return in 2005 and maybe the best slice of British TV SF since 1998's Ultraviolet. It is fast-paced, genuinely adult, asks hard questions and doesn't skimp on the answers and features some brilliant writing and acting.
on 15 July 2009
Warning - this will give away the plot.
Very disappointed with Children of Earth. A) because instead of a new series we get 5 episodes, and B) because it was so dark and depressing and frankly completely out of character for our beloved Captain Jack that I finished episode 5 wishing I hadn't bothered. If we wanted to see endless political deception, suicide and murder we could just watch the news. Can't work out why RTD or the BBC would want to destroy a very popular series that has been gaining an audience since series 1. I feel sorry for the cast - not least because the only one who is left alive is (the ever annoying) Gwen. And as for RTD's very twisted imagination with all those ways to kill Jack over and over again - that was just going too far. If you're a fan of the first few series do yourself a favour and don't watch Children of Earth.
on 14 August 2009
OK, so I am a fan generally.... but this is great. I series link/recorded on my HD box, but a thunder storm mid week stopped signal right across the third episode when it was all being shown on BBC HD. So, I bought the DVD set and I am delighted that I did. I honestly don't think you need to be a fan of the genre as such, there really is something for everyone here, and it is all very well written, directed and produced. Excellent stuff.
on 29 August 2009
The third season of Torchwood was nothing what I expected. And I don't mean that in any way positive. Not only was it even more brutal and violent than any season before, it was also majorly depressing to see everything we cared for in the show was carelessly and unnecessarily killed off. The spoilers had promised a ,new level` in the relationship of the two main characters Ianto Jones and Jack Harkness, but it never was. The story of the long-term-couple everyone adored was written as uninspired and distant as it could be. Well, that in fact WAS the new level. All that made me so angry with a show I used to love and waited for almost a year. The screenwriters did a poor job with this. And I won't even tell what I think of the producers job.
When you liked Torchwood and its characters in the first two seasons I can assure you: there is no need to watch this third season of the show. It was badly written and plotted and not worth anyones while.