Torchwood- Series Review

This is a creation from the founders of “Doctor Who”. It is kind of like a more grown up version of the show, and is intended for an older audience. It played on late-night BBC initially and moved to a primetime slot later on. So far there have been two seasons and a mini series (which I will review in the movie section, since I only count something more than ten parts or episodes as a show). Torchwood series 4 is in the early stages of production (meaning filming is not done).

It doesn’t matter if you’ve seen Doctor Who or not, you will be able to follow the series easily. Some jokes might be lost on you, and there are one or two references series-wide to the Doctor, but for the most part all Doctor Who does is give you some background information on Captain Jack, one of the lead characters.

The overall main is not Captain Jack though, he is just the relation to Doctor Who. The main character is a police woman named Gwen. She is working on a crime involving a dead body found in the middle of the street when a government special ops group called only “Torchwood” arrives, pushing back all police with just their name. Gwen climbs into a parking garage to see what the five strangers are doing and sees them bring the body back to life for a short time. She uses her police contacts and eventually finds Torchwood headquarters. They give her the full tour before erasing her memory and sending her home.

Reports of mysterious murders trigger Gwen’s memories. She is present when a member of the team is revealed to be the murderer, kills Captain Jack, and commits suicide. Captain Jack is not dead though, he reveals he cannot die and offers Gwen a position in Torchwood.

L-R: Ianto, Gwen, Captain Jack, Tosh, and Dr. Owen

The series follows Gwen and the other members of the Torchwood team- Dr. Owen who specializes in biology and medicine, Tosh who is a skilled hacker and inventor, Ianto who acts as an office assistant and driver, and finally Captain Jack himself, their strange leader whose back story is a secret (but I’ll fill you in later). Each episode presents a new alien threat that they must research and combat to save people. Gwen falls in love briefly with Owen, but returns to her fiance Reese, who she later marries and he learns of the Torchwood team. In series 2 Dr. Owen is killed, but a mysterious glove brings him back to life. His heart does not beat, and he cannot heal from injuries, but he is still in his body. Season 2 follows a secondary storyline with him as he tries to determine what happened to him and comes to terms with this.

This is a little shoddy in the beginning. Captain Jack is played by John Barrowman, who seems to have great difficulty with solo shots and a leading role. In Doctor Who he was one of the minor characters, but here he is co-star with Eve Miles, who plays Gwen. Overall the series seems to have taken actors who are not yet ready to take on such hard roles. In the beginning of the series the acting is very sketchy, awkward even. Stick around though because as the series progresses the actors all get their feet under them. There are still some moments through the show that are as disjointed, but for the most part they do pretty well.

Ok, I’ll tell you the back story now so you don’t have to worry about missing jokes.

In the first season of Doctor Who Captain Jack appeared for a few episodes. He was a con artist time traveler who Rose and The Doctor met in 1940s London during an air raid. The Doctor took him in and he stayed with the group until the end of Season 1. He was a playboy type who flirted with everyone and everything, regardless of species or sex. When the Doctor and Rose fought the Dalek’s on Satellite 5, a large space station which controlled all the worlds media, in the year 5000 he was killed. Rose brought him back to life when possessed by the TARDIS (the Doctor’s mysterious time-traveling ship). Rose and the Doctor left immediately, not knowing he was alive.

Jack tried to follow them, but his smaller personal time traveling device malfunctioned, stranding him on Earth in the 1800s. Jack found out soon after that he could not die. He blamed the Doctor for doing this to him and holds a grudge against the man. In Torchwood when asked what he would do if he found The Doctor he said “I’m going to kiss him… Then kill him.”. Jack stuck around Cardiff, remembering that the Doctor stopped there from time to time to soak up time and space energy from a rift in the fabric of the universe which ran through the area. In Torchwood you see Jack with a hand in a jar he keeps close. This hand belongs to the Doctor. It was chopped off during an alien attack and collected by Jack, who used it to detect when the Doctor was near. The end of Series 1 has Jack running out of the Torchwood facility at the sound of the Doctor’s TARDIS engines.

In Doctor Who you see the rest of Jack’s story- he caught the Tardis and rode it to the future, to the end of time itself. The Tardis saw him as an odd point in space and time that should not exist and fled to escape him. The Doctor explains that when Rose was possessed by the TARDIS she did bring him back to life, but could not control the power of the time machine and so he was slammed back into life so hard that it was now impossible for him to ever die. Jack helps the Doctor fight his arch enemy The Master and then returns to Torchwood, where he works more easily than before. He appears once again in the end of Series 4 for a brief amount of time with the rest of the Torchwood crew. He also appears repeatedly in various seasons of Doctor Who, but it is not revealed until later that the character is him.

Series 4 of Torchwood will see major changes, namely a new (or re-built) headquarters and an all new team headed by Captain Jack and Gwen. There are rumors that former Doctor Who companion Martha Jones will be brought on along with Mickey, the ex-boyfriend of  the Doctor’s first companion in the new series. There has been no word confirming or denying these rumors however, so don’t hold your breath.

  1. #1 by riotoo on July 28, 2010 - 6:43 pm

    Torchwood was never ‘cancelled’. There was never any official announcement to that effect either during or after ‘Children of Earth’ (which only aired last year!). Unless you can point me towards the official press release notifying its cancellation, as far as I’m aware the show was just left in limbo (neither cancelled nor recommissioned) for a while after COE aired. Now it seems that during that period they were actually negotiating with American tv companies (first with Fox, and finally successfully with Starz) to produce another season.

    By the way Torchwood in the UK started out on the minor BBC digital channel BBC3 for its first season. Then moved to BBC’s 2nd mainstream channel BBC2 for its 2nd season. Then moved again to a primetime slot (9pm) on BBC 1, BBC’s top mainstream channel, where it had major ratings success. Children of earth was never just late night TV, it was promoted as a BBC primetime drama.

    • #2 by tweetweetbang on July 28, 2010 - 9:54 pm

      This review was for Torchwood as a series. Like I said early in the review I am waiting to review “Children of Earth” as a movie, where I prefer to put mini-series. I never said if “Children of Earth” was late night or primetime. And I do not differentiate between BBC3, BBC2, and BBC, I count them all as BBC since that is the channel in the US that aired Torchwood when I saw it. As far as Torchwood being canceled, that was my mistake. There was an article about a third Doctor Who spin-off being canceled and it was combined with an article about Children of Earth, which was filming at the time. The article made me believe Torchwood had been canceled. I will amend that part of the review.

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