Posted by: Genny Colby | August 25, 2011

Torchwood…Where are you?

Seriously, how can you not love Captain Jack Harkness?  From the moment we met him on Doctor Who, he has been nothing but swoon worthy.  Of course, we followed him to his own spin-off on Torchwood!

Torchwood, on BBC, was much darker, grittier, and sexier than Doctor Who.  Captain Jack and his team worked for a secret agency of the British government to seek out alien and alien technology here on Earth; protect the human population; acquire and learn from alien technology; and destroy if needed.  No one officially sanctions them, no one officially acknowledges their existence, and yet they are the baddest alien fighters around.  All led by the death-defying Captain Jack Harkness.  Why can’t Jack die?  Well, as best that the Doctor can ascertain is that he has become a fixed moment in time.  Ah, years and years and years of Capt Jack to come!

British Television is, in many ways, so much better than that produced and broadcast in the USA.  First and foremost, many of the programs we get over the American broadcast channel of British television (Doctor Who, Sherlock, Torchwood, and MI-5) are so well written, well acted, and the story lines have depth and intrigue.   The only big downside is that a season is typically about 13 episodes.  Always leaving me wanting more.

It was with interest that I read that Starz was going to produce the latest, 10 episode season of Torchwood.  The series has an amazing premise…what happens when, all of sudden, no one can die?  How does the world change?  How does society cope?  And most importantly…why did this happen?

Then they started announcing the cast and with the exception of John Barrowman as Capt Jack and Eve Miles as Gwen Cooper…it was an all American cast.  Okay, I can hold judgement on this aspect, and wait to see how the show develops.  It is going to be set primarily in the USA?  Okay, that could work.

Then the season started…and it is so slow!  Torchwood used to be a fast paced, quick-witted, dark yet humorous program.  Now it has been, for lack of a better term, Americanized.   The story is painful!  I swear, they could have done this whole story in 5 episodes if they writing had been up to the previous standards.  The addition of such an Americanized setting and cast has not added anything to the story itself.  There are too many different character threads, not nearly enough mystery and alien intrigue, and while I do love the sexiness of Captain Jack…I don’t need a 20 min sex scene that does nothing to move the story along.  Sex for sex’s sake is not what Torchwood is really all about.

By moving to Starz, there were opportunities that maybe did not exist while working with BBC, though it does not seem as though they really took full advantage of them.  I know that Starz brought more money to the table, allowing for more intricate special effects.  And I would assume, more money for the principal cast as well.  But it also feels like Starz said “we like the premise of this series, we want 10 episodes” when the story could have been told much more succinctly in 5 episodes.  Either the writing team got lazy, or they didn’t think that Americans could handle the fast paced show that was Torchwood before.  I really wish American television would stop treating its viewers like idiots that need their hands held and the whole story laid out to them.   Setting it in America was fine, I just really wish that it had kept the dark, gritty, sexy edge to it.  It is just too bright, especially for something that is supposed to be an “end of the world as we know it” situation.

While Starz has expressed that if there is a solid story to tell, they would be interested in airing more episodes in the future.  We can only hope that they allow the writers to do what they do best and write Torchwood as we loved it before and stop trying to dumb it down for the American public.  For now, we will finish the series, since we are finally getting to the base of the mystery itself and I do love my Capt Jack!

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