Torchwood continues to go from strength to strength with excellent writing and great characters making this the best new sci-fi show on TV right now. If you’re not familiar with the series, it’s being shown on digital BBC3, with repeats every Wednesday night on BBC2. At the moment, it’s just got a UK airing but I’m certain that it will cross the pond in the near future.
It is a spin-off from Doctor Who (the name Torchwood is itself an anagram of Doctor Who!) centred around a team of extra-governmental agents headed by Captain Jack Harkness (pictured above, kneeling). The action is filmed in and around Cardiff by the BBC Wales team. Unlike episodes of Doctor Who itself – which is also filmed in the area – Cardiff doesn’t pretend to be someplace else; this is the base of the current Torchwood Three (T-One and T-Two having been destroyed). There appears to be a dimensional rift in the area through which alien flotsam and jetsam filter; it acts like a magnet for alien and paranormal activity.
This places it firmly in Doctor Who territory, but unlike it’s parent Torchwood is aimed squarely at an adult audience. Where Doctor Who aims to keep the children watching from behind the couch, Torchwood ups the ante by being an all adult affair. The gore level is increased, but that’s unlikely to faze many kiddies brought up on Blood Spatter Fest 3 for the XBox 360. No, what’s more mature about the show are the plots and ongoing subplots in the series. Last night’s episode is a prime example, covering serial killings and cannibalism in a remote Welsh village. That’s not a storyline you’re likely to find in Doctor Who, but perfect fodder for the Torchwood team.
The ongoing subplots are great; there slowly unfolding lust/affair between Gwen and Owen came to head to head in the latest episode. That a sure sign that Gwen is going to die a very messy death at some point. No one ever has an affair in a sci-fi series without dying horribly later. I’m sure we’ve not felt the last of Ianto’s grief, and it looks like next episode is going to be Toshiko’s turn in the spotlight. Just as with the first series of Star Trek:The Next Generation, each character is being given centre stage for an episode to flesh out their characters and help us to understand their motives. It’s a technique that worked well there, and it’s good here too.
At some point, I’m pretty sure that Jack will get his wish and the Doctor himself will come calling. That’s either going to be a Christmas Special or an end of series two-parter. If they can schedule the end of the Torchwood series with the start of Doctor Who’s new series this would make a great tie-in!
My prediction is that at some point the Master will come calling. I find it hard to believe that he died during the Time War (he’s simply too good a villain to go quietly). That’ll come as a shock to the Doctor, who thinks he’s the last Time Lord My guess is that the Master gets pulled through the rift at the last minute during the Time War against the Daleks, ends up in Cardiff and proceeds to decimate Torchwood. The Tardis responds to Jack’s cry for help, the Doctor arrives, saves the day and (poignantly) kills the Master so he’s the last Time Lord again. But hey, what do I know?!