Torchwood: Come on baby, light my fire

Am in the midst of
Torchwood's "Children of Earth" quintilogy. Having a few thoughts

Caveats: I'm far from an
expert on Torchwood. I have seen approximately 5 episodes of season two, and no
others. I have seen (I believe) all of the Capt. Jack Harkness episodes from
"Doctor Who," and I have seen the "Doctor Who" where
Torchwood is invented.

A few thoughts (spoilers
, you've been warned):

Literary quality

What got me hooked in the
first place was the episode where Owen "dies." I loved the way the
episode explored that concept, and how it didn't resolve at the end; there was
a real sense of literary feeling behind that script, and while it may not have
been the ideal episode to enter into the series, it worked for me.


One of the great appeals of
Harkness is that he cannot die. He has many other sterling qualities – I love
the bisexual swashbuckler he is – but when you have a superpower like this, I
think it's key that you keep it in the drawer for use only in special
occasions. This should be a power which comes into play so rarely that when it
is used, the viewer is shocked all over again, as if remembering that yes, it's
not a problem, he'll wake up momentarily. Using it multiple times in the same
episode (including quintilogies) leaches the power from this extraordinary

Death-without-end, Part 2

Jack is killed again, and
again, and when people know he can't be killed, just temporarily immobilized,
they come up with ever-more insane ways to keep him still. His brother buries
him under Cardiff for 2000 years (though he shaves a bit or two off here and
there). The idea of not just waking up buried alive but to die again and again
for around 200 years, choking on your own dirt only to do it again – that will
give me nightmares for some time. (Jack seems hardly the worse for wear; how
someone wouldn't go insane I can't tell you.) Next, another person literally
encases him in concrete. The concept is the same – eternal burial – but once
you've gotten to filling a room with concrete to keep a man still, you're
entering bad comic book territory. Still: All that aside, all of the shooting
and stabbing and burying and blowing up of one Jack Harkness begins to feel
like a form of torture pr0n, and the more it happens the more uncomfortable I
feel in enjoying the storyline. Once more, this needs to be something doled out
in tiny drops, not great heaping spoons.


Wherefore the Doctor?

I knew this would be an issue
prior to my starting to watch Torchwood, but I wasn't sure if there'd be some
way around it. (And maybe in the first season or so someone explained why this
is.) The thing is, the Doctor shows up all the time on Earth and saves it from
everything from a mass Dalek invasion to a rift in time to werewolves. It's a
jaunt in, a save the world, and a jaunt out. My problem with getting into
Torchwood was that if there was some kind of alien invasion big enough to
warrant fighting it off, what did you need Torchwood for? The Doctor just
showed up. And if it wasn't worth the Doctor's attention, who gave a crap?
Well, I was fine with all of this for the episodes I saw; they were clearly
grounded in a Torchwood universe that didn't require much mention of the
Doctor, or require his presence. But with "Children of Earth" I'm
sitting here listening to a plan to rid the planet of 10% of its children – on the
backs of 12 children being taken away by this species in 1965, no less, where
was the Time Lord then? – and all I can think of is that the Doctor should be
popping in and demanding parlay with the creature based on some kind of
intergalactic treaty or what have you. Surely all of this warrants his Time
Lordliness attention, surely he would know that this is even too big for
Harkness. So where the frack is the Doctor? His absence makes the whole
synergistic crossover – as crazy as this sounds – less believable.

Edit having seen the conclusion: The Doctor is referenced, and the question is raised of "where is he when we need him," but it's tossed aside rather haphazardly, as if the Doctor only makes appearances when humans aren't somehow complicit in their own destruction.

The Amused Factor

I can't help it: Torchwood,
Doctor Who, doesn't matter. I just love that whoever tells the story gets to
make their little corner of the world the center of the universe. I know when
"X-Files" was on the U.S seemed to have cornered the market in alien
invasions and species, but so far as I know, none ever threatened the world as
a whole. I am always delightfully amused when I watch big world-ending events
unfolding across the world or nay, the universe, and the hub of it all is the
south-east corner of a small island nation floating in the North Atlantic. The
sun has long set on empire in reality, but in Blighty's fictional universe, it never
shall. And that's just … wonderful. It appears that Capt. Jack Harkness is a
metaphorical representation of the UK itself. Who knew?


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