Torchwood

I’ve only got a few minutes to squeeze out this post before my handful of select guests arrive for Deaonandia’s First Annual Friday Night Martinis And Trivia Extravaganza….

These last couple of days I’ve been watching the Dr Who spin-off series Torchwood, which stars the impossibly good looking John Barrowman as the mysterious Captain Jack Harkness. Most North Americans have not seen or heard of this show, but it’s a huge deal in Britain. I’ve been watching it (somewhat illegally) through various online sources. If you’ve got 50 minutes to kill, here’s the pilot episode.

The show is notable for a number of reasons. First, it’sthe first real spin-off from the legendary Dr Who. (There was an earlier aborted attempt, called K9 And Company).

Second, as it is aired after the “watershed” (British for 9pm), it can be a little risque, so there are many “fucks”, “fuckers”, references to “coming”, graphic sex and lots and lots of gratuitous violence, including one particular scene in which Captain Jack empties what seems like a score of bullets into a struggling, prone woman at close range.

Third, as the show is produced by Russel T. Davies, the man behind both the rebirth of Dr Who and the gay drama Queer As Folk, sexuality plays a strong role in the show, though in my opinion it’s overdone. Captain Jack himself is described as “omnisexual”, someone who will “shag anything with a hole in it”. Within the first 6 episodes alone, all the main characters have had both hetero- and homosexual flings with each other. It’s all a bit too much.

After watching 6 episodes, I was very disappointed by the mismatching of forced sexuality, Dr Who campiness and X-Files adult mystery with annoying MTV-style direction. The writers keep messing up the characters. For example, the policewoman doesn’t know how to fire a handgun and seems inept at any kind of basic police work; the computer nerd does autopsies while the pathologist searches the internet; and, my constant complaint about such shows, all the lead characters are supposed to be members of a super elite investigation department with seemingly endless resources, but appear to all be fresh out of highschool and lacking basic knowledge about the world around them. Quite unbelievable.

However, I’m now up to episode 10. The last two were superlative character-driven stories with clever narratives and storytelling approaches, though both with weak, predictable endings. I think I’ll keep watching, mostly because I’m a geek and need my hourly fix of anything resembling science fiction.

(UPDATE: Check out my ongoing review at Skiffy.ca)

Okay, the martinis are waiting…