Torchwood: Series 1 (3 parts) Review

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The final part of the edgier Dr. Who Series 1 is finally out.

★★★★★

When writer Russell T. Davies first pitched this more adult and edgy Doctor Who offshoot, he likened it to Buffy spin-off Angel. But he might as well have said he was going to borrow everything from any show/film he’d liked in the last ten years, because making the central character a nocturnal, immortal superhero with a long dark coat was just the start. How about the episodes where a club of frustrated men fight each other or a remote community turns cannibal? Ring any bells?

Yet, although the BBC took until the finale to commission a second series, Torchwood shouldn’t be dismissed. There is potential for greatness here. It has the most promising opening monologue line ever — “The 21st century is when everything changes, and you’ve got to be ready.” It has a great set-up episode which even made its home base — Cardiff — look cool, and it has an intriguing central character in Captain Jack (John Barrowman). Unfortunately, Jack’s hardly onscreen, his team seem to hate each other’s guts, and the obsession with being “edgy” means an uneven tone and a frenzy of bed-hopping.

Take new recruit Gwen (Eve Myles). She’s a policewoman who gets inducted into Torchwood in the first episode. Torchwood was the top-secret organisation set up by Queen Victoria to defend Britain from aliens. Only, as all Doctor Who fans know, it went horribly wrong and was engulfed in a huge Cybermen/Dalek battle. (‘Torchwood’ is also an anagram of ‘Doctor Who’ — and was originally used as a codeword for the scripts when the show was being secretly revived, but that’s just geek trivia.)

Back in spin-off-land, Torchwood is now a not-so-secret organisation — even the pizza boy can find it — consisting of five untrustworthy people in a basement in Cardiff, led by Jack Harkness, who was killed and then revived in Series 1 of Doctor Who. It’s at this point that Gwen stumbles in.

She, of course, falls for Jack, but she already has a boyfriend, so there’s a bit of sexual tension, except then she snogs a girl, has sex with another of the male staff, probably would have had sex with the other but he’s a got a secret Cyberwoman girlfriend in the basement, and also has a thing for Jack and does something sexual with him involving a stopwatch... are you keeping up?

Just stick with it, because the last minute of the series delivers in a way that makes it all worthwhile. And hey, like Captain Jack says, “You’ve got to be ready.”