Sunday, September 5, 2010
Television Series Review: Torchwood
I thought my first review would be for a book I’m currently reading, but the author is annoying me with her lame attempts to be avant-garde and post-post-post-modern. No darling, you aren’t going to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, but nice try. Cue rolling eyes. Anyway, wanting to put something up so as not to seem the laziest contributor to this blog, I remembered I had watched three seasons of a deliciously dark and quirky sci-fi series called Torchwood. Thank you, Netflix instant watch feature. First, it’s British and that enough garners major points from me. But, the real reason why I love this mature offshoot of Dr. Who—which by the way is the longest running sci-fi television series on the planet—is its amazing cast of characters that make you laugh, think, curse, and cry.
In a nutshell, Torchwood centers on the extraterrestrial exploits and investigations of a small, but top-secret organization that is above government control and the police. Guess what the organization’s called? Torchwood. Good job. The leader of this highly technology-equipped and competent team of alien hunters is the drop-dead gorgeous Captain Jack Harkness who hails from the far future and has lived on earth since the 19th century. This ex-con who can’t die is joined by the cynical medic specialist, Owen Harper, computer genius, Toshiko Sato, and butler/Torchwood base caretaker/Captain Jack’s booty call, Ianto Jones. Oh, did I mention that Captain Jack is an omnisexual that shags anyone hot, male or female? Now you know. Empathetic police officer, Gwen Cooper, takes the place of a former member, Suzi Costello, in the first episode. You watch most events unfold in the eyes of Gwen in Cardiff, the capital of Wales.
The first season begins with Gwen upset that some secret team she’s never heard of has total access to a crime scene with dead body and all. Barred from seeing what Torchwood is up to, she finds a way to spy on the team’s activity surrounding the dead man on site. She almost accidentally kills herself when she sees them bring the guy back to life. Captain Jack catches her eavesdropping and soon one thing leads to another in which Gwen ends up as the team’s newest member. The season continues with one interesting alien case after the other while the audience unsuspectingly draws closer and closer to each character. Captain Jack’s captivates with his charm, strength, and precious moments with his team members. It’s like he’s their father…uh, except to Ianto and sometimes Gwen. Yes, it’s complicated, but oh so intriguing. However, Captain Jack is not without serious faults. He makes mistakes—I’m talking big mistakes that cost the lives of people. And yet, when’s he off the screen you just want him back. You know who my favorite Torchwood member is.
Season two picks up the pace and focuses on the team dealing with the effects of a powerful time rift coursing under Cardiff. Relationships and characters become more fully developed, questions are answered, especially Captain Jack’s mysterious background, and the series falls toward a darker and more emotionally charged edge. The third season, unlike the last two, has one major storyline that keeps you hanging for more at the end of each episode. However, each episode is more dreary and fatalist than the last with an air of hopelessness you wish would go away. I just hope the director cheers things up a bit in the fourth season, which is supposed to premiere next summer on Starz. I’m sure you can buy the DVDs anywhere, but I suggest getting a subscription with Netflix ($10 a month) and watching the whole three seasons there. Trust me, you will not be disappointed. I still can’t get any of these characters out of my head…mmm, especially Captain Jack Harkness.
Score: 4.5/5.0 I took half a point off because the series became too heavy with the depressing themes sometimes, but this can be easily overlooked and maybe even appreciated by others.