Torchwood: Children of the Earth
It’s hard, sometimes, being a Torchwood fan. It’s hard loving a show that has such obvious flaws. That suffers so many episodes with a good or halfway decent premise to fall apart in the last 5 – 15 minutes. That suffers some more than occasional bouts of bad acting. That suffers Burn Gorman to be presented as a desirable sexual partner for either men or women.
It’s hard being a Torchwood fan.
Long ago I had to admit that I love Torchwood the way lots of people love fanfiction. After all, the show is essentially Doctor Who fanfiction (spinoff is such a polite term). And, like fanfiction, I’m willing to put up with a lot of crap as long as my kink is massaged. My kink is, of course, Captain Jack Harkness.
Over time I also became quite a fan of Miss Toshiko Sato, though her character was badly used through the whole of her two series. And Ianto, of course — mainly because he was snogging Jack.
As long as any one episode contained Jack, Jack snogging Ianto, and Toshiko being awesome, I was mostly happy. But man, oh man, I wished for more. I wished for plots that held together and deep emotional impact and for Gwen not to suck so much donkey balls and for the show in general to just really take chances and change the game.
I clapped very hard for this. Harder than I clapped for Tinkerbell. And my wish came true.
Torchwood: Children of the Earth is so good, so phenomenal, and so crunchy that it truly transcends its fanfiction/spinoff standing and becomes one of the best television events I’ve witnessed in the past several years.
It’s sad that we only got five episodes this series, but Russel T. Davies utilized them well, delivering a plot arc that kept the tension up without resorting to cheap tricks. In “Day One”, children all over the world freeze at the exact same moment. Just freeze. Then, a few minutes later, continue on as if nothing’s happened. That afternoon it happens again, but this time the children all speak in unison: “We Are Coming.” It’s terrifying in its simplicity and in the delivery. All children everywhere saying the same thing at the same time.
Of course the Torchwood team goes into action trying to figure it all out. But they quickly discover that their biggest obstacle and most immediate threat isn’t the aliens, it’s the British government. We find out exactly why over the course of the first three days.
I won’t go spoilerific on you yet (I have much analysis and questions, but I’ll save that for after the final episode has been aired in the US), but I will say that the tension, mystery, excitement and stuff that makes you cry is very well-balanced throughout the series.
One note I will make is that I was pleasantly surprised to discover about halfway through “Day Two” that I wasn’t as annoyed and chafed by Gwen or Rhys as I usually am. In fact, I thought Gwen was really awesome in this series. She didn’t once make me wish she had died instead of Tosh. I didn’t once want to throw her out of the airlock whenever there was a scene with her and Jack or her and Jack and Rhys all together. This is a major accomplishment for Torchwood, I think. And I’m not sure who to attribute the credit to.
I could be Eve Myles, who is a fine actress, and who is not at fault for Gwen horridness in Series 1 and 2. It could be Russel T. Davies, who just might have a better handle on writing the character than Chris Chibnall ever did. He wasn’t responsible for all of Torchwood’s previous episodes, but he was in charge of the series, and thus the writers probably took his cues more often than not. Maybe it was just that there was no time in this series for the usual stupid love triangle crap someone shoehorned into previous series. That’s fine with me. Series 4 writers please take note: this is the Gwen we should have had all along. Let’s keep her, please.
Torchwood: Children of the Earth is the best series to date. I hope its true that we’ll get a Series 4 someday, because if the show keeps going in this vein it may surpass the one that birthed it. Fanfiction rules!