Torchwood: Children of Earth

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I have been a Torchwood fan since the day the series launched.  Captain Jack Harkness is such a strong character and the twists and unexpected turns this series has taken have been a joy to watch.  It quickly became television I not only sought out but considered destination TV anytime a new episode aired.

I’ll even go so far as to commit the ultimate sacrilege and share the fact that, when faced with a new Dr. Who in the DVR cue at the same time as Torchwood, Captain Jack always came first in my home. That’s saying a lot as Dr. Who has been a part of my life since the Tom Baker years back in mid-to-late 70′s.

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Children of Earth was a five day mini-series that replaced series/season 3 for the show.  Over the weekend, Katie and I were able to take time out and watch it.  Not to spoil anything for those who haven’t seen it, but the mini takes place over five days as an alien race, known as the 456, attempt to invade and threaten the entire human race for the sole purpose of taking the children of earth.

This story was one part Torchwood, one part unwinnable moral dilemma and an all-hands-on-deck emotional ride for the viewer.  The stage was set in day one and this story did not quit until the very end once that ride started.  Within these five days, we’re faced with the emotional rush of a good, fast paced Torchwood episode.  There was also the unquestionable sadness of unexpected heartbreak.  Add to that the eerie feeling that an end of the world dilemma could, in many ways, break down society and its moral code in a very short order and you have a heck of a Torchwood event.

torchwood_childrenoftheearth3To say I enjoyed this mini-series would be an understatement.  In my eye, Torchwood has never been better than it was in these five episodes.  Here each of the characters were humanized through the introduction of family in ways that made perfect sense within the story. That said, each situation was a bit unique to that character.  I felt depth within the story that isn’t always here for this series.  Along the way, some especially adult themes were explored.  I’m not talking “sexy” adult as much as morally grey, intellectually interesting storytelling.  At many points, the viewer is left wondering how they would handle these situations?  In this series, everyone has their own personal flaws and the story doesn’t hide those weaknesses, but rather builds on them in some appreciably relatable ways.

Simply put, this was great television.

As society came apart, so did the team in many ways.  It’s a deconstruction that was fascinating to watch and ranks up there with Battlestar Galactica and Tudors as some of the most enjoyable television I’ve sampled in a long while.  I did not want this mini to end and ABSOLUTELY wanted to know what comes next for these characters I’ve followed since the US television introduction last year.

At the end, Russell T. Davies teased that this may be the end for Torchwood as a series.  He explains that he has more stories to tell and knows exactly what is coming next, but if the BBC doesn’t pick the series up for series four, it would be a fitting end to the story.  I’ll admit that if this is the end, it was a satisfying one and the series has gone out on a high note.

… Oh, who am I kidding? …

torchwood_childrenoftheearthI WANT MORE TORCHWOOD and of course I already went digging to see what the net is saying about the likelihood of series 4.  Kai Owen (aka Rhys Williams in the series) has been quoted as saying, “Torchwood is very popular – in the US even more so than Doctor Who – and I am 100 percent confident another one will go ahead” (ref).  Also, a rep at Comic-Con 09 for BBC America said that Torchwood has been picked up for a forth series by the BBC (ref / ref).

Okay.  Happy now!

Video – Of course a video tied to this story is now being featured over to the right.  If it has faded for another by the time you read this story, you can still find it at 8yqqVbQpeTo.  Cheers!

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5 Responses to “Torchwood: Children of Earth”

  1. Ron Fortier says:

    Yo Chuck,

    Oddly enough I just watched this five part mini-series over the course of the last week. It was riveting to say the least and reminded me a great deal of Stephen King’s mini-series for TV, Storm of the Century, wherein the devil comes to a small New England town isolated in a winter storm and pretty much tells them he is going to ravage them unless they give him one child.

    And therein was the same sacrifice a few theme of The Children of Earth. Most of the show I kept shaking my head at the utter evilness of the elected officials willing to go along with the 4-5-6. And part of me, I guess the moral part, doesn’t believe that many people could be both so heartless and stupid all at the same time. Yet the world did turn a blind eye to Jews when the Nazis began herding them off to the gas chambers.

    Jack’s moral outrage and his willingness to fight on was magnificent at the start, but the I was horrified to see him capitulate to that sacrifice one for the sake of the many altruistic philosophy which is pure bull-feathers. The more astute and wise philosophers throughout history, ala Jesus, Mohammed and Buddha all knew, every single life is a miracle…and worth everything. Better for all to die then give up one life.

    Jack, in the end, is as big a monster as the 4-5-6, and I for one was glad to see him leave the planet. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

    Moral gray areas are comprises to evil.

    Of course kudos to a show for making us all think this through. I just would have appreciated a real hero in the end.

  2. Chuck Moore says:

    I have to agree with you that Jack let us down a bit in this outing. That said, I respected the presentation of the story all the more for it showed the humanity and imperfect nature of each of the characters through the way they reacted to the events. In the real world we can’t always have the perfect answer and this story was filled with unwinnable story moments.

    At three distinct points, Jack is shown as failing 1) his original choice in the 60′s, 2) his overzealous confrontation of the 456 without care for those around him and 3) his final choice at the end.

    I have always been a fan of the morally gray character who struggles against his own demons to find the correct path and ultimately walks the path of right, not because others see him as a hero, but because that’s the path he chose for himself. In the end, though Jack may have failed us this time, I can see him coming back a stronger character as he eventually seeks redemption for his past and recent sins.

    I want that season 4 to air so we can see how all this is handled and taken to the next stage in the story. There is so much resentment and regret in Jack… Can he be the hero we knew before ever again? I don’t know, but I want to watch the episodes and see!

    —————–WARNING SPOILER AHEAD——————

    Also, Katie pointed out that the young boy is his grandson. Could he not have a little of the Captain Jack longevity and durability in him to rise up another day? Could be interesting.

  3. Ron Fortier says:

    You make all excellent points, Chuck. During that truly horrible scene at the end with his grandson, I to wondered if there possibly could be something special in his genes to allow him to somehow survive. Although one gets the idea that wasn’t the writers intent ever. Still,
    being a writer, I could easily see the ramifications should the boy not only life, but continue to mature, knowing the one man he loved above all others was willing to sacrifice him. Could make for some truly interesting family get togethers in the future. Ha.

  4. Gordon says:

    I’ve actually just written about Torchwood for the latest TV Party, but just a few thoughts for the both of you:

    Ron – Torchwood did end with a hero. Her name is Gwen Cooper. I think, more than anything else, she was the person who was willing to see things through, to stick by her convictions, and who was the most human of them all.

    Captain Jack…I see him as being like a photographic negative of the Doctor. If The Doctor is a long-lived alien who is gaining humanity through interacting with humans, Captain Jack is a long-lived human who is losing touch with his humanity through interacting with aliens.

    The ending of CofE sickened me – mostly because I’m not a big fan of children-in-mortal-jeopardy in fiction. I think Captain Jack, due to circumstances, didn’t consider the human option – it was more of an immediate let’s-get-this-done. I’m not saying that it’s right (I’m with you there, Ron) – just that in a series about hard moral choices, to quote WARRIORS FROM THE DEEP, there should have been another way….

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