I meant to blog something about this after it aired, but didn’t get round to it. So when Leah needed a quick review I thought I’d write something on it:
Review: Torchwood – Children of Earth
This five part miniseries, shown on consecutive nights over the course of a week, was a new format for Torchwood, the Dr Who spin-off series, bringing it to BBC1 and prime-time viewing for the first time after 2 seasons of relative obscurity in the listings. The teaser trailer pulled in large numbers of viewers for a slice of well-scripted, intelligent sci-fi written for the Spooks generation, where half the battle is fought against your own government.
The series really delivered, however, on the premise behind Torchwood as a series – this was Sci-fi for adults, with a decidedly different tone from Dr Who’s more family-friendly happy endings. As the series progressed it became clear that simple heroism wasn’t going to be enough to save the day, and the characters were left to make the second-best and last-resort choices that this sort of story usually doesn’t show people making. John Barrowman’s Captain Jack has never seemed more morally ambiguous, and the story went to extreme lengths to demonstrate that a man who cannot die can, in consequence, suffer a good deal more than any normal human being should. Gratifyingly, however, his suffering was not allowed to exonerate him from blame for the horrific choices he came to make.
Ultimately, as the subtitle suggests, this was a story about children. How we protect them, what value we place upon them, the things we sacrifice for them and the reasons we might make a sacrifice of them. The biggest underlying question was whether it is ever right to treat them as objects (whether that be drugs, ‘units’, or transmitters). Any TV series, Sci-fi or otherwise, that starts seriously exploring those issues is worth watching. The more so if, admirably, it refuses to close them with a ‘happy ever after’.