Sunday, May 13, 2007

TV Review: Torchwood, Season 1, Episode 1

(This review contains no significant spoilers.)

A few days ago, I finally got around to seeing the premier episode of Torchwood. The series is a spin-off of the new Doctor Who, focusing the Torchwood Institute, which was created by Queen Victoria, after a run-in with the Doctor, in order to protect the Earth from extraterrestrials and extraterrestrial technology. The main protagonist is a recurring character from Who: pansexual man-from-the-future Captain Jack Harkness. So, the show is something of a cross between Doctor Who and The X-Files.

Importantly, Torchwood airs late in the evening, presumably after all the kiddies have gone to bed. The show therefore contains a lot of profanity, sexuality, and violence that would never be seen in its parent series. I believe this is a good thing, not so much because swearing, sex, and violence are entertaining in themselves, but because it serves to distinguish Torchwood from Doctor Who. The contrasts between to two series is heightened by the music, as well as other small choices in the series' production. The overall feel of the show is quite different from (or different to, as the Brits would say) the parent. However, the hand of Russel T. Davies can still be felt, leading to some similarities between the shows. Most notable is the prominence of homosexual themes. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

The first ep, Everything Changes, focused mostly on introducing the Torchwood Institute and is written mostly from the perspective of an outsider. There wasn't as much Torchwood-investigates-a-mystery as there likely will be in the other episodes. As a result, it's difficult to say whether the somewhat more adult nature of the show means that the "science" in this series will be more believable than in Doctor Who; I rather doubt it will.

All-in-all, I enjoyed the show, especially the way it differintates itself from Doctor Who, and I plan to watch future episodes. Overall, I give it 7.0 out of 10.

* RTD is the creator/executive producer/writer of Torchwood and the executive producer/writer of the new Who. He is also famous for his work on Queer as Folk.

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