Monday, December 6, 2010

Torchwood: Children of Earth - Day One

(Note: Hello! I'm aware that the weekly reviews somehow stopped getting written. I refuse to give up on the blog, but I've come to understand that weekly reviews aren't really for me. When I have something to say, I'll say it. For instance, this post, which originated as a Tumblr post to start up a TV Tumblr microblog, is being posted here as well. I'll be writing one blog post for each of the five episodes of Torchwood: Children of Earth, which I'm watching one per day, since that's how they were broadcast. Starting tomorrow after Day Two, I'll also be watching the final David Tennant specials of Doctor Who, though I'm not sure if I'll write about any of them beyond The End of Time, which I've already decided is going to be a tear-jerker because, well, I freaking LOVE Tennant as Who.

Anyway, here are my brief thoughts on the paradigm shift from regular, 13-episode seasons to mini-series format; future posts will continue to weave in my thoughts on the power of a focused narrative in this serialized format.)

Well. That was a wild ride.

In reflecting upon my experience watching Torchwood’s first two seasons in the past two weeks, I’ve come up decidedly underwhelmed. It’s not that the show isn’t good — it’s great, in fact. But in watching Children of Earth’s first episode, I feel silly for enjoying what came before.

It’s all in the story, of course. Season One is excused largely because of “spin-off syndrome” (the first season of a spin-off show will invariably suffer compared to the parent show because there’s still an umbilical cord of characters, themes, and a new twinge of insecurity connecting the two shows). Season Two had John Hart (everybody say a silent thanks to whatever deity you believe in for James Marsters) and some fantastic character-centric stories, but was lacking the kind of grand scope that makes Doctor Who finales (and by extension, seasons) pleasing to the eyes and ears.

That limitation breeds creativity is a well-established fact, and no more so is it true than when Torchwood’s third series was reduced to a mini-series. Five episodes, five days. In that one move, Davies was forced to finally transform Torchwood into the show it should have been by the end of season two. And just think: I’ve only seen "Day One"! I have no idea what’s in store for me: how this whole “children standing still and uttering alien declarations” plot pays off, or how Gwen handles her pregnancy, or how Jack and Ianto will proceed with their relationship (and hey, talk of kids is all in the air in this particular story). But I do know at least one thing that I love already: blowing up Torchwood-3. It’s like a big exclamation point saying, “HEY, LOOK, THIS IS A NEW SHOW NOW. WE’RE GOING TO TELL AWESOME STORIES AND YOU ARE POWERLESS TO STOP US. PLEASE ENJOY THE RIDE.”

There is no going back now — and Torchwood is all the better for it.

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