You can’t have lived as long as Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) without 1) creating some pretty powerful enemies; 2) having some secrets that will get out one day, one way and 3) come into a situation where you could really use that friend of yours, the Doctor. The problem is, as Harkness’ second-in-command Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) puts it, there are times when it appears the Time Lord turns his back on the Earth in total disgust.
The five part Torchwood miniseries, which starts tonight on BBC America, apparently is one of those situations. Entitled “Children of Earth,” there isn’t the slightest sight or even peep of any of the various incarnations of the Doctor, his sonic screwdriver or the TARDIS.
There’s an interesting backstory to this miniseries. Apparently to be considered the full third season of the adventures of Harkness and company, the Torchwood series has made the jump in England to the big time, BBC 1 (it had previously been on smaller channels BBC 3 and 2). While the ratings for the first season of the series were overall excellent, they took a savage dip in the second. Thus, series creators Russell T. Davis and Julie Gardner were in a quandary. How do you make sure the show maintains its new home?
The answer is to go to the viewers gut. As noted in an interview with Gareth Lloyd-David (Ianto Jones), the show took some notes from the film Village of the Damned and Poltergeist. Based on some actions that Jack performed neigh 45 years previously, a powerful group of aliens are returning to planet Earth. They announce their coming psychically, through children. By that we don’t mean a select group of kids, but the entire prepubescent population. The world sure will take notice when every child, everywhere starts chanting “We are coming…we are coming.”
As an added twist, fans would think every government in the world would want Torchwood on the case. Guess again. It’s no big secret, if you’ve been paying attention to all the commercials and viral advertising BBC (the Beeb) has been laying over the last month, there are certain members of the British government who want Torchwood completely out of the picture. By that we don’t mean hidden away in a corner. No. They start by knocking Harkness out and planting a bomb in his stomach, hoping to take Cooper and Jones out in the process.
Mind you Torchwood is still recovering from the loss of two other key members. There’s one last complication, involving Cooper, too.
In all, what we end up with is this Torchwood miniseries has taken some notes from another classic SF series, Chris Carter’s The X-Files.
Quite frankly, the best news is if the series decided to do some stealing, they did it from some darn good sources. To top it, “Children of Earth” remains absolutely true to itself. The show is immediately addicting and maintains an incredible level of absorbing action and truly intense suspense, making this probably the best installment of the series ever. Fans can’t ask for more.
Which leaves one final question, after such a tremendous episode, is this the series way of going out with a truly tremendous bang or, considering the BBC 1 hookup, one heck of a way to insure there are more Torchwood?
Personally, one should remember if ever there was a series that the dead never really stay that way, it’s this show. So, one shouldn’t be surprised if there is a fourth, hopefully full, season. On the other hand, if you got to make an exit, this is certainly one great way to do it.
As Harkness’ bud the Doctor might quip, only time will tell.
Torchwood: Children of Earth airs on BBC America this Monday through Friday, at 9:00 p.m. Eastern each night. It will be followed by a Doctor Who special, Planet of the Dead, this weekend. If you don’t get BBC America, the Beeb will have the entire series out on DVD on Tuesday, July 28.