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Monday, November 5, 2012

Mini Review: Torchwood

Call me the last person on Earth to have even heard of Torchwood. (I really need to get out more.) Anyway, we found it on Netflix so we put it on the queue and started watching while Greg was with me for a rare extended visit.

Torchwood is a secret organization that hunts aliens and is based in Cardiff, Wales. It's headed by Captain Jack Harkness, a man who can't die, which as I learn along the way, can be a cruel punishment in itself. 

The rest of the team is comprised of: Gwen, a policewoman who didn't let anything as feeble as an amnesia pill make her forget Torchwood when she discovers it accidentally. Ianto, driver, errand boy, and apparently Jack's quick squeeze when he has the need. Toshiko, computer genius, and Owen, the doctor.

It took me a while to like them. Gwen was likeable from the start as was her ever-patient boyfriend. But Jack irritated me through most of the first season. Slowly, and I don't know when, they started to feel like family, albeit a dysfunctional family. By the end, the writers had me caring about what happened to each of them.

But...the one thing that really annoyed me was the way the characters were forced to fall in and out love lust so quickly. In one episode Ianto tries to save the love of his life, and in the next, he's humping Jack. I don't care that they're bisexual, but if you're going to write a relationship, people can't go bouncing from one person to the next without some context.

I really felt they were sensationalizing bisexuality rather than treating it like a real relationship. It cheapened it. They didn't get their act together until Torchwood: Children of Earth mini series that followed.

Aside from the terrible plot holes and lapses in logic and scientific fact, Torchwood had one redeeming factor that kept me watching. The stories. There were little nuggets of gold in the stories. While the relationships were 'meh', the premises were fantastic. Episodes like Ghost Machine, Out of Time, and End of Days were haunting and intriguing. 

While I tended to find fault with parts, it was the whole that kept me hooked.

I recommend this series for science fiction and fantasy buffs.


And to prove my total ignorance of television history, we had watched nearly the whole series before I discovered that Torchwood was a spinoff of Dr. Who. (I  wondered why Jack kept saying the Doctor will fix things.)

I've never watched Dr. Who, though Greg did, back in the early days of Who. We've put it on the queue for the next time he's in town. I don't know that I'll like it because while I've known about Dr. Who for decades, it always looked a little cheesy in the promos. But since I like Torchwood, I'm willing to give it a try.

Have you watched Torchwood or Dr. Who? What did you think?

Is Dr. Who similar in flavor to Torchwood?


Stacy McKitrick said...

I've never watched Dr. Who, but my daughter loves it. Although, she did start watching Torchwood first, which is what I'm doing right now. I'm a few episodes into Season 2.

Season 1 wasn't made the way the creators wanted. They didn't have enough time to create episodes, so they kind of made each one a stand alone. Season 2 they were able to spend more time and link the episodes better.

However, my daughter hates Gwen, and I kind of don't like her, either. I think the writers really screwed up that character when they had her cheat on Rhys. Shame, shame! But I do like the show. The stories are pretty neat.

Maria Zannini said...

Stacy: That particular Gwen episode threw me for a loop. I understand why she did it, but it was still stupid to act on it. This is what I meant about characters falling in and out of lust in every episode. It made no sense.

I still like her, especially that episode when she realizes what Rhys meant to her. I could feel her pain. (Don't know if you got to that one yet.) That might be the end of season 2.

Mike Keyton said...

Torchwood is a bit uneven and 'Gwen' tends to over-act. Dr Who is far better, but the key is to look out for the writers. Russell T Davis, in my opinion is too sticky sentimental. Stephen Moffat on the other hand is darker with more weird twists. I think you'll enjoy Dr Who especially Amelia Pond and River Song. You're in for a treat.

Barbara Ann Wright said...

The newer Doctor Who stuff is much better than the older. That's the stuff that starts in 2003 and is packaged as its own series. It's much lighter, usually, than Torchwood, and the story-telling is better, imo. I liked both of them, but I liked Doctor Who the best. It can still be cheesy at times, but it can also be extremely touching.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

My daughter swears Dr. Who is terrific, so I'll have to try it. then I'll try torchwood.

Maria Zannini said...

Ref: Gwen
I always found her over emotional, which I assumed was part of her character's personality. I hadn't seen her in anything else so I wasn't sure if she was overacting or just characterization.

Ref: writers
Absolutely! Greg and I brought this up while we were watching it. We could clearly distinguish the hand of different writers on certain episodes.

Thanks for the head's up on Dr. Who. We'll definitely look for them.

Maria Zannini said...

Barbara: I think it's the newer Who that Netflix has in their vault. I can go for lighter.

I definitely feel better about watching it now. I just didn't want cheesy.

Maria Zannini said...

Susan: Reading various blogs, it led me to the conclusion that Dr. Who was slanted more for the younger generation, that's why I thought I might not like it.

Now Barbara (above) I know is much younger than me, but I'm a little closer in age to Mike, so if he says it's okay, it must be.

He wouldn't steer me wrong. ...I hope. :)

Angela Brown said...

You are not the last to find out about Torchwood. That would be me. Today. Checking out your mini review lol!!!

I've heard of Dr. Who and watched a few episodes, but it's been so long that I'll have to start over.

Hoping you'll love Dr. Who, or at least find some redeeming things about it to keep you watching :-)

Maria Zannini said...

Angela: Oh, good. So I'm not the very last person. LOL.

I always start out watching a show as an evil cynic, so it's kind of nice to be proved wrong.

Sarah Ahiers said...

I've watched Doctor Who and Torchwood. I can tell you that had you watched Doctor Who first, you probably wouldn't have had those issues with Jack. When Jack is on Doctor Who, it's awesome.

Doctor who is lighter than torchwood, but is a lot of fun. And like Torchwood, there are some episodes that are just amazing, that make the whole thing worthwhile.
And of course, there's a Doctor Who episode where it crosses over with all the spinoffs, and that's awesome.

We actually just finished watching Torchwood: Miracle Day maybe a month or so ago.

Maria Zannini said...

Sarah: You made my day. I can't wait to watch Dr. Who now.

Shelley Munro said...

I've watched both shows. Some of the Dr Who stories are excellent while others aren't so good. I agree with Sarah about Jack being good in his Dr Who intro. When you see how everything slots together it makes more sense. Dr. Who on the whole is a lighter show, sometimes with humor but some of it is darker too. Clear as mud, right? :)

Cate Masters said...

No, you're not the last person. I've never even heard of it! But I don't watch much TV, though if I had BBC America I would. :)

E.J. Wesley said...

You're not the last person to hear about Torchwood, Maria--apparently I am! lol I'm def going to add it to our Netflix now.

I've watched a few episodes of Dr. Who and REALLY want to love it. We are huge sci-fi/fantasy nerds in our house. But honestly, we started at the very beginning episodes and they were good, not great. And after all the hype--and considering number of other shows we love at the moment (Fringe and Battlestar Galacitca and Merlin to name a few)--it's hard to make time for it.

I've been told by diehard Who fans to leap a couple of seasons in and they become excellent, so I think we'll do that when we pick it back up.

I take it you are an 'old TV' watcher like us? We seem to never get around to a series when it actually airs, and end up watching them on Netflix, etc. I think we prefer it that way so we don't have to wait for new seasons to come out. (Killing us with Downton Abbey right now, btw. :-)

Maria Zannini said...

Shelley: Dr Who is next on our list. I'm glad it'll give Torchwood more context.


Cate: I wouldn't have heard of it either if it hadn't been for Netflix.

Maria Zannini said...

EJ: I don't have cable so I probably miss most of the fringe shows.

But I agree, I'd much rather watch the series after it's done so I could watch them right after another.

I find that if I watch them on regular tv, I lose interest because my time is subject to the needs of that particular day. If I'm busy, I miss it and then I never catch up.

Gwen Gardner said...

I've never watched Torchwood, either. But I've seen most of the old Dr. Who series. It took me a while to get to like it - I'm not a real sci fi fan. But now, it's sort of just a fun, comfy thing to watch. I'm always late to the game:)

Maria Zannini said...

Gwen: That's how Torchwood ended up for us. It was just comfy, like catching up with weird friends. :)

broken biro said...

I wish I'd never seen Doctor Who - so I could watch it all again for the first time! If you like Torchwood I'm sure you'll love the Doctor - and I agree with Mike, the Stephen Moffat ones are best. I love the breadth of where they nick story ideas from and mash them up - lots of neat ideas and humour. Have fun!

Maria Zannini said...

Broken Biro: I'm looking forward to it now.

Isn't it funny how even when the acting is the same, you can always tell one writer from another?