Separate from the government, outside the police, beyond the
United Nations, Torchwood sets its own rules. Led by the enigmatic
Captain Jack Harkness, Torchwood is made up of brilliant,
passionate individuals, each bringing something unique to
Torchwood gets off to a pretty impressive start. The
opening episode, Everything Changes, sees us following
police officer Gwen Cooper as she tries to discover what Torchwood
is and where it's operatives are based. It starts off on a
rainy night in Cardiff, when Cooper is part of a team of police
officers that are sent to the crime scene of a murder. Within
minutes of them arriving at the scene, a black SUV pulls up
and four plain-clothed individually jump out. All they have
to say is "Torchwood" and the police let them through
to examine the body. With the rest of the police asked to
clear the area, Gwen decides to enter a multi-storey car park
that overlooks the crime scene, so she can get a better look.
When she sees the Torchwood team briefly bring the dead man
back to life, in order to ask him who attacked him, Gwen sets
off on a quest to discover as much as she can about Torchwood.
show, which is a spin-off of Doctor Who ("Torchwood"
is also an anagram of "Doctor Who", for those who
didn't already know), tackles more adult themes than Doctor
Who. And, because it's screened after the 9pm watershed,
the creators took the opportunity to include more gore, more
sex and more swearing. Sadly, those three things alone don't
make an adult drama.
The main characters in the series are, for the most part unbelievable.
It could be because they are not dark enough. There's too
much larking around, crying, and acting like immature children
- screaming matches are not out of place. By
far and away the worst offender is Captain Jack Harkness.
Come on! A guy/alien/whatever who has been around for as long
as he has - and who is heading up this kind of organisation
- would be made of sterner stuff and certainly more focussed.
fact, from episode to episode Harkness's character flips between
being a no nonsense hard man (in the opening episode he lays
down the law to Gwen that Torchwood is not there to solve
crimes and help the human race when man turns against man)
to being a big girly cry-baby (Captain Jack Harkness
- come on please. Can you really get all Casablanca
after chatting to a bloke for a few hours?)
are we really to believe that every single member of Torchwood
is bisexual? Because every single member has a bisexual encounter
of some description - talking about ramming an issue down
our throats. It just becomes embarrassingly funny in the end.
In fact, what could have been a fantastically moving episode
(Captain Jack Harkness) ends up being unintentionally
funny and boring at the same time. It's not just the fact
that we have another gay episode, but also the fact that Harkness
falls for... er... himself!!! Er... kind of. Oh, please!
makes this even worse is that at least two of the characters
are strictly heterosexual (Gwen and Owen) I suspect that Toshika
is too, but it's never really explored. So the only reason
that they get jiggy with the opposite sex is because they
are under the influence of some alien power or artefact (or
in Owen's case because the boyfriend of a woman he's being
ravaged by, will beat him black and blue)... Yes, great one!
I'm sure all the homosexuals in the audience are applauding
that one dimensional portrayal of their sexuality. Or is it
simply that all aliens are either gay or have gay technology?
could be that the reason why the characters seem to change
so much from episode to episode is because there are a few
too many writers and no one is really keeping them in check.
It's such a shame that the greatness achieved in Russell T.
Davis's first episode is never really matched again.
second episode, Day One, is a cross between the Blob
and the end result is a little disappointing. This
is followed by the Ianto episode Cyberwoman. It's a
shame more episodes don't feature Ianto a little more, as
David Lloyd is a fantastic actor. However, there's a bit too
much uncontrollable crying for my liking. And it was here
that I started to realise that this is a UK show that has
been designed to appeal more to an American audience. As the
episodes progress there's far too many ideas that wouldn't
look out of place in American shows, but are likely to leave
a UK audience rolling their eyes and tutting: "Oh please!"
is this more evident than in the next episode Small Worlds.
It's a shame, because there is so much potential here to make
this a really spooky episode. But there's too much two-dimensional
character development. The little girl's parents are terrible.
When the step-dad, sick of his stepdaughter's weird behaviour,
puts up a fence to stop her going down to the woods, he smiles
and nods to himself as he is hammering in the nails. Obviously
he's also a pantomime villain at the weekends. Then there's
the mum... Now I know that what happens to her at the end
of this episode is terrible, but please! Show a little restraint.
That's right out of the Big Book of Ham Acting. There
was also a chance to have a little sentimental moment between
Jack and his old friend. But, despite their history, he only
gives her a moment's attention in the closing act. And he
seems more upset that the girl skips off to fairy land. Whereas
in the later Captain
Jack Harkness episode, Jack connects with... er
Jack in about an hour.
won't even mention the fact that Countryside has nothing
at all to do with aliens (oops! Too late), so after Harkness's
stand in the first episode, of only going after alien threats,
it's surprising to see Torchwood involved. It's also a pretty
over lesbian alien episode Greek Bearing Gifts (I know,
I can hardly believe I'm missing the chance to talk about
that either), we have They Keep Killing Suzie, which
is one of the best episode in this series. Indira Varma, who
plays Suzie Costello, is easily one of the best actors on
the show and it's a crying shame that they killed her off
in the first episode. Thankfully, she's brought back for her
own episode. Interestingly enough (and this goes to show how
anal I am) the ISBN number given in this episode is actually
for The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.
episode is followed by another one of my favourite episodes.
Random Shoes follows the ghost of Eugene, after he
realised that he's been killed in a hit and run. Again, for
reasons never fully explained, Torchwood are on the case -
although to be fair it's Gwen that does most of the work against
the team's wishes. This was a great episode with only two
minor problems. Firstly, what on earth was Eugene's dad doing
at the funeral? Sure turn up, but standing up to deliver a
speech when he'd been absent for so long seemed a little odd.
And finally what was that ending all about? It's never really
is followed by more run-of-the-mill episodes: Out of Time
(a plane lands in Cardiff that is out of time - the passengers
are from 1953); Combat (a rather poor alien Fight
Club); and Captain Jack Harkness (a time travelling
episode that sees Jack and Toshika getting pulled back and
trapped in time).
final episode, End of Days, follows on slightly from
Captain Jack Harkness. It also sees people from all
over history materialising in Cardiff as a hole in time has
appeared. The conclusion will certainly leave you wanting
as you'd expect from a BBC DVD release, are plentiful. We
get audio commentaries on all 13 episodes with cast and crew
(Russell T. Davies gives out a few spoilers for Series
Two accidentally in the commentary for the first episode);
Deleted Scenes; and Outtakes (6 mins). There
are loads of other short featurettes, but I'd totally ignore
those and watch the Torchwood Declassified (2hr 20mins)
a collection of featurette that looks at every episode. These
can be played as one long featurette, or for each episode.
The truth is that nearly all of the smaller featurettes have
lifted material from the Declassified extras.
episodes have been released previously by the BBC as three
double disc collections. And what I want to know is is
someone at the BBC extracting the urine? How on earth can
they justify slapping 13 (50 min) episodes across seven discs
while repeating the majority of the content of the extras,
and then have the cheek to charge £55?!!?
13 episodes and their audio commentaries would have squeezed
onto three DVDs (easily) with all of the extras) on a fourth
disc. Yes, all of a sudden £55 starts to look like a
rip-off doesn't it?
series won't be to everyone's liking. And in all honesty it's
not as slick or enjoyable as Doctor Who. If you enjoyed
the series when it was originally broadcast on TV, then you
might feel the need to add this to your collection. Otherwise,
I probably wouldn't bother. It's too expensive, and there
aren't nearly enough episodes that rise above average.