Okay, so Torchwood is a BBC show. A Doctor Who spinoff. I didn’t start watching Doctor Who until Russel T. Davies took over in 2005. It was neat because it’s a fun, quirky sci-fi show that doesn’t take itself too seriously, yet has moments of amazing character drama. I gave Torchwood (an anagram for Doctor Who for the curious) because it promised to be a darker, grittier show. And it was. It has sex and guns and seemed to be mostly no-holds-barred. Except when it sucked. The thing with the first two seasons of Torchwood is that when it was good, it was all right, but when it was bad, it was so bad I didn’t want to admit that I’d even watched it. Still, it was announced that they’d be moved to BBC1 and given a 5 hour miniseries event for their third season.
I was a touch scared that it spelled the end of the show. I mean, the episode order was dropped from 13 to 5, that can’t be good, right?
Wrong. I’ll keep this spoiler free for those who haven’t seen it yet. However, I will say that they upped their game. There wasn’t a second wasted. Russel T. Davies is known for being self-indulgent and sentimental, but in this mini-series he tucked all that into a box and told a tight, well-plotted story with some outstanding character development (and some character devolution if I’m being totally honest). There wasn’t a moment where I found myself bored. Not a moment where I was annoyed. I spent the whole time wondering what was going to happen next, and I was floored by the resolution.
You don’t have to know anything about Torchwood to watch the miniseries beyond their a government agency on earth that battles alien threats. The drama is a little more raw if you’ve seen the first two seasons, but not necessary.
What I’m left wondering is how they move on from here. They essentially demolished the landscape of the show and I have no idea how they can go on. It was a major risk. However, shows like Heroes could stand to learn a little lesson from all this. Torchwood was getting too silly, taking itself too seriously, and becoming kind of a joke. In one five night story event, they completely recast this show as the gritty, serious, dark, and ambiguous show that it should have always been. A show like Heroes, which has grown ridiculous and bloated, should run a truncated season. Maybe 10 episodes. And eliminate 90% of the cast. Recenter the show and find a new purpose. Torchwood: Children of Earth, has shown how effectively it can be done.
I can’t wait for season 4.
Here’s the trailer for those who want to see it.