Torchwood: Then and Now – No spoilers — UPDATED!
UPDATE: I was very disappointed with Torchwood: Miracle Day. The plot and characters had much potential, and the actors gave all the script provided them, but in the end, what could have been a lot of brilliant storytelling ended up very convoluted and story. If you do watch it, watch for the big ideas, and be ready to skim past irrelevant scenes or even whole episodes…
I’ve written this article for people who have heard of, but may have never seen, the scifi show Torchwood. As such, I have made it completely spoiler free!
Torchwood is one of these shows that constantly reinvents itself. Perhaps unintentionally it seems to go through different stages, almost like a person growing up. Allow me to explain.
Season 1 of Torchwood was written back in the day when Doctor Who writers had no creative outlet for the most prurient of their interests. Sex. Violence. Gore. Death. Thus the series emerged as a bunch of horny, moody teenagers let loose from their parents for the first time, with Jack as the Residence Hall Assistant. As such, much of the series has the kind of things college freshman love — everyone hooking up with everyone, feelings from euphoria to angst and morbidity, and the writing quality of fan fiction. If you go in with this understanding, you will enjoy it, though I have always seen it as an indulgence food. What if you gave a college dorm access to alien tech, supercomputers, a big hidden base, and a Black SUV? Look no further! And just remember, even college freshman have moments of brilliance.
Season 2 saw Torchwood growing a bit. Sophomores suddenly have to up their game or they will get kicked out, or in this case, cancelled. Being the smart bunch they are, the stories got noticibly smarter. Whedon-like one-liners, a snappier pace and more interesting takes on what it means to have an adult show with few boundaries would set the tone for the next series.
Children of Earth was the sober, heart wrenching and truly adult season, using the boundaries of adult themes not for gratuitous interests but instead to push the boundries of storytelling into disturbing, compelling adult territory. All grown up, this series was a masterpiece, and deserved all the praise it got.
This brings us to Torchwood: Miracle Day, the current season. Like a person who has found their voice and wants to expand on a theme, Miracle Day almost feels like an “attempted sequel” to Children of Earth, in that it is a season length story based on a novel and adult theme – what if everyone stopped dying? So far I’d say it’s pretty good, but I long for the first 3 series’ cast that didn’t make it to this one.
Given all this, I would recommend newcomers start from the beginning so you can watch the show blossom into what it is now — wacky, engaging adult scifi television.