Television has been a bit blah recently. Apart from the excellent third series of Dexter, there has been little to keep me tuned in…until last week when the BBC decided to strand Torchwood across five whole nights. I had my doubts. Largely because I pretty much hate anything that runs across a whole week as I invariably can’t watch all the episodes and have to rely on a somewhat retro video (I refuse to donate any more money to Mr Murdoch for Sky +). Anyway, as luck would have it the technology held out so I was able to catch up with the final three episodes over the weekend and OMG! It was pretty awesome.
Torchwood is – on the whole – a pretty daft programme. John Barrowman camping it up in his swishy army surplus coat, lots of Welsh accents (I’m sorry, they just make me giggle – in a good way I hasten to add) and the fact that no one in Cardiff seems to have really noticed the bloody great rift running through it from which various alien life forms emerge (makes me wonder what an average night out in Cardiff is actually like). So we settled down to daftness and yes there was Captain Jack swishing along, there were the amusing gay jokes, there were the comedy Rhys moments when the poor lamb really doesn’t have a clue. Better and better there were weirdy aliens communicating through the earth’s children – all very scary and marvellous. We even got the obligatory killing of Captain Jack. Given that Torchwood isn’t afraid of killing off some of its main characters, there is an underlying fear that one of the intrepid team might go the way of Owen or Tosh (and indeed – without giving too much away for those who haven’t seen it yet – there is one of those moments in Children of Earth). But not Captain Jack – oh no – because we he cannot die and we have seen him at the end of the universe when he’s the Face of Bo.
But in this series, Torchwood got very grown up; asking booming social questions and getting that emotional engagement just right.
Anyway, I don’t want to give away the plot because I really would urge anyone who hasn’t seen it to try and find it. The story is a ripping good yarn with a really sinister undertone courtesy of the British Government ( it does make you think how you would make the choice – which is actually even more disturbing). What I really love though is Russell T Davies’s sharp characterisations (the Prime Minister who makes Pontius Pilate look like someone who really took responsibility in a difficult situation) and the humour that runs throughout (the US getting extraordinarily uppity that aliens had chosen Britain was priceless).
Torchwood, Children of Earth hasn’t quite justified my licence fee (I cannot forgive any organisation that takes one fraction on one penny of my licence fee and spends in on Total Wipeout), but it has reminded me that the BBC makes bloody good drama from time to time. Hurrah!