Sunday, July 26, 2009

BBC America kicks ass

I was simply blown away by the Torchwood S3/miniseries (subtitled Children of Earth) that ran M-F this past week. Holy friggin' moly, that was great! Despite not being a Dr. Who-ligan, I enjoyed the first two seasons of its spin-off (see here, here, here and here) and was dismayed that the third season would only be a five-episode miniseries. But the miniseries was vastly better than the first two seasons, pared down, action-packed from the get-go, funny, exciting and heart-breaking.

An alien race has come to Earth and demanded 10% of the planet's children or it will eradicate the entire human race. The aliens are dealing with the Brits because this is the second time they've come to Earth: back in 1965 the British government gave them twelve children in hopes they would go away. The Welsh Torchwood unit is poised and ready to help, but the government, keeping their 1965 dealings with the aliens a secret, confounds them at every turn. The thing is, while the government is as much the Big Bad as the aliens, the viewer does not have an easy time knowing whom to side with. Would you sacrifice 3,500,000 children to save the remaining billions of people? And if so, how do you pick who is sacrificed?

Russell T. Davies has now supplanted Joss Whedon as the most ruthless television writer/producer: SPOILER he has killed off three of the five original cast members in 3 seasons; he has a government worker, betrayed by his boss, the British Prime Minister, shoot his two daughters, his wife and then himself, rather than give his children to the aliens; and Captain Jack is forced to sacrifice his only daughter's only child to save the planet. Grim, heartrending stuff - and really good television. END SPOILER.

The ending of Children of Earth was ambiguous as to whether there will be any more Torchwood episodes - Davies and the show's stars (those still living) seem ready and willing to do more, so fork over the money, BBC! It looks like I'm going to have to start watching Dr. Who episodes (man oh man that's going to take me decades, isn't it?) so as not to lose touch with this world. In the meantime, I urge you to rent or buy Torchwood 1, 2, and 3 (the last of which should be coming out on DVD very soon).

Also, I caught the pilot of Being Human, a new (new to the U.S.) supernatural BBC America show about a ghost, a werewolf and a vampire who are flat-mates. The pilot was a little rough, as pilots are wont to do, as it seemed as though the viewer was dumped into the show somewhere in the middle and had to figure out what was going on (as in, how did the vampire and the werewolf, who were already acquaintances before they occupied the flat that holds the ghost, first meet? although I suspect we'll get to see that as the series goes on). The show seems to be trying for a balance of horror and humor, like Buffy et als., and does fairly well; the werewolf when not wolfing out is a little squirrelly for my taste, but the gore is quite bloody, so that's fun. I suspect Being Human will only get better as it goes along and plan to keep it in the DVR queue for the duration.


  1. I loved Torchwood 3. I was so eager to see how it ended, I downloaded the torrents of Day 4 and Day 5 so I could watch them back-to-back. Absolutely riveting.

    I'm a Doctor Who fan from way back and the new series with Christopher Eccleston and especially David Tennant are mostly great. Some duds, but overall well worth it. I'm sad Tennant is leaving. He's perfected the Doctor's mix of humor, pathos, action, loneliness, and steely reserve. "The Girl in the Fireplace" is one of my faves and "School Reunion" explores somewhat how traveling with him effects his companions. "Doomsday" and "Army of Ghosts", the series 2 finales, are heart-wrending. "Blink" surprised me at how such a hokey premise could actually be quite brilliant. It's not as dark as Torchwood, but I still really like it. Hopefully the new Doctor taking over next year will be tolerable.

    Or rather, don't get me started on Doctor Who. I can almost get as sucked in as watching "Buffy" or "Angel".

    I TiVo'ed Being Human last night, but haven't watched it yet.

  2. T3 was the most exciting television I've seen in a long time. My pulse actually sped up a couple of times ... and I am a Very Jaded TV Watcher. Just awesome. Pluswhich I loooove the Welsh accents and have a total girlie crush on Eve Myles.

    Eccleston and Tennant are the main reasons I want to watch Dr. Who - but I think I'm going to have to go back a few years so as not to be completely lost.

  3. I don't think you have to go back to watch the Old School Dr. Who to understand the newer ones. I just started watching Dr. Who (like on Monday) so I could be wrong, but I did some asking around with my nerdy friends and they say you don't need to watch anything prior to the Eccleston series to follow along quite happily. However, I am there is nothing quite like a TV shows that aired in the 1970s (and '60s?), if only to remark on the hairstyles alone.

    Also, I just got Ep 1 S1 of Torchwood. Very exciting.

  4. Wow, AnnaB: BSG, Torchwood, Dr. Who ... all you need to add is Buffy and Firefly and you will be a full-fledged nerd yourself!

    Thx for the tip. I think it would be manageable starting w/ Eccleston; otherwise the prospect is daunting.

  5. I agree w/ AnnaB, just start w/ Eccleston and Tennant for Who. I watched many of the Doctors of yore, but it's not required. They do a good job of catching folks up on the history. Plus you'll get to learn when Captain Jack finally dies. *wink*

    Torchwood 3 wounded me. He already killed Owen and my favoritest Tosh, but Ianto and then Jack's grandson! Curse you Davies! Still, it is great television no question about it. It's like I told a friend, I'll be surprised when they allow all the cast to live at the end of a season!

  6. Resistance is clearly futile: I have added all the Eccleston and Tennant DVDs to my rental queue!