Ok so this review is long overdue but since the DVD just came out and I just came back from the Hub convention I feel inspired to write about my beloved series.
So after reviewing Children of Earth I was so torn on whether I could handle more Torchwood.
Then I did in fact watch the new series and ended up loving the first ep.
Ok so there’s no point reinstate things we know by now that in my head there are 2 torchwoods and the show has now evolved into a new animal and therefore must be taken as this. But I have to say I loved the series because it did what I love most in television and use the medium of science-fiction/horror to express a social commentary on how as a race we aren’t so heroic and that when faced with great danger it brings out the worse in a lot of us. Take falling Skies I didn’t like it because it played it safe, no grey area, no exploiting the darkness in the human heart and every character was so clichéd. This is why as sci-fi Miracle day kicks Falling Skies arse. I loved the social commentary the show of human weakness and characters that don’t fit the mould. God so much to say about how this show has evolved. But let’s start with the basic plot that no one can die and how it affects the whole world throwing the planet into a situation they have no control over.
When nobody dies, hospitals fill up, supplies run low, laws have to be re-thought and people’s religions fall apart. All these things are addressed and I was so surprised by how in depth these issues were focused on this series really brought a serious social concern to light, overpopulation and the strain on our resources. We saw that laws had to change Murder no longer exists but this can breed a whole new way to torture and kill knowing your victims won’t die. How do you cope with hospital cases, who has top priority, what about coma patients, the terminally ill, those in accidents so horrific they’ll never be the same again, what is the policy for giving out drugs, how do you control the spread of disease. So many brilliant ideas all explored and that just one area of a problem likes nobody dying. How about the prison system, those with life sentences, those on death row how do you deal with crime when the punishment can be forever. Overpopulation is no one dies what about housing, nursing homes, people are still aging what kind of long term care is there, how do we feed all these people, would the poverty line drop again and what is the financial implications of all this. Then there’s problem of religion and soul, what direction will faith go in when you live in a world without death or where you should have died and your still alive, do you have the right to still live, what are you living for and if the medical is reversed what state would you be returned to. Who would have thought a series that homage classic horror and had episodes about alien sex gas possessing people would have turned into a series that asked such harsh and intense questions.
What makes Torchwood’s evolution so amazing is while all this larger picture issues are being explored its still Torchwood; Jack will always be Jack with his larger than life personality, his heroics, his quiet vulnerability that he doesn’t show to anyone, his lust for life and desire to protect humanity no matter what it has thrown at him. Gwen has evolved the most to a person who is focused and determined she has her own problems torn between the needs of her family and the bigger picture of protecting the world. She is a wife and mother and her duty love and care lies with them, we see that if it came down to it she would even kill Jack if it meant saving her family but she also is a hero she feels that need and duty to protect those innocent and in need of help. Her and Jack’s relationship has also matured, there is a deep love and bond stronger than any bond 2 people can have, but it’s not romantic it is beyond that, it is beyond the hero worship, respect and devotion and now its 2 people that understand the path they have chosen and a shared sense of duty. They need each other; they support each other but also hate each other and the sides they bring out of each other that no one else will see. Jack make Gwen reckless inspires her to fight for her beliefs and cross a line that she doesn’t want, Gwen makes Jack question his humanity, exposes his vulnerability and pushes him to make the right choices. Gwen dislikes the fact that sometimes jack is the only person ready to cross that line to get the results and she lets him, she can’t do that last bit and the guilt she feels is visible. Gwen is ready to let Jack shoulder the guilt and responsibility and live with the consequences and I feel sometimes Jack is jealous that she still has that freedom and a place to return to, a family and a life jack will never know. Jack envies the life Gwen can have and he feels bad that he needs their connection and is ready to pull her into his world even though he knows she’d be better without that life he needs her. But when it comes to it they would kill for each other and even more importantly kill each other if it meant saving the life they have made for themselves. They are both desperate to protect their life, their purpose and their humanity and if one threatened the other they would end that person’s life.
I do love how dark this series got and it really exposed the monsters that lurked inside humanity, the depths we go to and the decisions we make when in desperate situations. We wouldn’t all come together and make nice, our governments would make harsh decisions for us and we would even know half of what was happening. The camps were a brilliant idea at first just a place to send all those that were alive but in no state of living and the even worse category 1, coma victims and terminally ill being burnt alive because there isn’t space or anything that can be done for them. It was so harsh and moving, Gwen’s struggle with her dad broke my heart. Desperate to keep him with her but knowing that he was going to die, not wanting unseen forces making the decision of when he should die but allowing the family the time to come to terms with this heart breaking situation. Who really has the right to say when someone is dead and gone, what makes governments think they can play god and that they have the right to reject the emotions and wishes of families and loved ones.
The series continues to expose man’s greed, desire and turmoil. Especially in characters like Oswald Danes, where would a death row paedophile becomes a spokesperson for the forgotten, loved by people for being able to say what everyone else is thinking? He wants to preserve his life so badly he’ll do anything but at the same time he is a dark and twisted person. He feels no remorse for what he’s done, even in his dying moments to the last breath he feels no regret for his crimes, he relishes in his twisted being and his dark path. He is a truly brilliant character ready to stand up and say that people aren’t being treated fairly in this new world, riding his publicity train to fan and using the system to ensure he continues to live and then even when he decides to die for the cause he doesn’t ask for forgiveness no he is the monster to the end.
So much great plotting and characters make up this dysfunctional and dangerous world and then we have the actual alien element. This I must say got a bit confusing; there is a shaft that runs from Buenos Aires to Shanghai that somehow affected the whole world through a field and jacks blood. So ok some of it got a bit weird, it’s all connected to a beautiful love story from jack past, a secret family organisation that took jacks blood and tried to find the secret of immortality and ended up reorganising the shape of the world. The thing that interested me was the fact that unless you saw the Christmas special of Doctor Who ‘The Runaway Bride’ you would have missed something important. Jack say’s the Doctor told him about a legend about the world being formed around the spine of a ship, which we know is the Racnoss ship. So somehow the Christmas special also ties into Miracle day but I don’t mind I like my DW references and reminders the shows are still linked.
I’m not going to go too much into the plot just go watch the series and discover all the great plotting, character developments and how far this series has come. The one thing I will talk about is Jack’s love life in this series and how people got all offended. So in one ep we get like a 1 minute sex scene where jack decides to have some fun with a barman, and why not he’s human and horny and Captain Jack Harkness, the scene is brief and at the same time Rex and Vera are having their own very strait sex scene. Why this caused controversy I have no idea one gay sex scene and one hetro, both got equal screen time both just not really explicit, both showing that the characters have these needs and feeling and that we are watching a show for adults. I hate it when people start complaining that they don’t want their children watching gay sex scenes, their children shouldn’t be watching Torchwood at all its for adult. Ever since DW we’ve known Jack in omisexual, and after three seasons and the development of his relationship with Ianto we know he’s been in gay relationships so why so shocked that he sleeps with a barman. It’s stupid that it got cut from the UK version for not having plot relevance, there are about a million shows and movies that have pointless striate sex scenes and no one complains, I for one am sick of watching those scenes they do nothing for the plot. I totally reject the whole hetro monogamous couple its boring to watch, I can be in those relationships I want to see something I can’t be a part of and relationship that is beyond me and far more interesting. Plus gay sex is hotter to watch!!! So this lead onto a very important episode which introduces Angelo, Jacks lover from the past and a relationship that put in the foundations that allowed jack to later learn to let someone in and love, there would have been no jack and Ianto if jack hadn’t had this earlier relationship. Also there would have been no Miracle if not for Angelo and how this relationship literally tore Jack apart allowing his ability to be exposed to people that want to use it for their own good. But plot aside people started complaining about the gay agenda, it was one ep with one sex scene and it detailed a beautiful and important relationship. It was another world and place where homosexuality was so much more difficult, we saw another side of jack and what was missing from his life and we saw that sometimes love isn’t enough. I am so sick of putting in a relationship just to keep strait people happy, why shouldn’t there be beautiful gay relationships, why shouldn’t I be allowed to watch 2 beautiful men fall in love and make love, we live in a modern world and therefor people should be more open with the nature of modern desire.
Well I’ve talked a lot more about the social and cultural importance of this series but it really is great and I’m waiting for my box set to arrive and watch it again.
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