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First Impressions: Torchwood

I watched the premiere Torchwood episode (“Everything Changes”) on BBC America. Torchwood is the Doctor Who spin-off that features the character of Captain Jack Harkness.

The Short Version: Loved it! Those of you in the U.K. or elsewhere who have seen the subsequent shows, please tell me it stays this good!

The Long Version:

  • I wasn’t sure what to expect. About all I had heard was that, unlike Doctor Who, this one was aimed at mature audiences. They got that part right: some of the scenes were a bit graphic and the language was not something I’d want my daughter hear. Any more than from her old man, anyway.
  • I love the premise: super-secret organization that answers to no one defends the Earth from impending alien invasion.
  • The creators made a good decision to make the premise separate from Doctor Who‘s story lines. It means you don’t have to be a Doctor Who fan to like this show. Hopefully this added accessibility will translate to longevity. If the quality stays high, that is.
  • Nice touch: the idea of multiple Torchwoods. A rip-off of Stargate: SG-1 but still cool, especially the “We’re still looking for Torchwood 4” part.
  • The opening sequence – which featured a resurrection glove – was something I’ve seen before, but I can’t recall where. Can anyone help? Was it previewed on an episode of Doctor Who or the SciFi Channel?
  • The episode had just the right amount of hand-holding; Gwen Cooper’s story served as a perfect introduction to the series. They don’t dumb it down, but they don’t leave you in the dark either. (I’m looking you, X-Files.)
  • I remember Captain Jack from Doctor Who, of course. But I must admit that I did not care for the character much. He seemed to intrude on the Doctor/Rose relationship. But I do like him better in Torchwood. The other characters, what little I saw of them, seemed pretty decent as well.
  • How about those Weevils? Aliens living in the sewers? Sweet!
  • And all those cool alien gadgets. More, please.

Bottom Line: I’m digging this show and will definitely be tuning in. You should, too!

Side note: During Torchwood, BBC aired a commercial for The Graham Norton Show, with guest David Tennant. I watched it and found it to be freakin’ hilarious. The fake TARDIS bit…the Doctor Who personal ad…this is another show I’ll be watching.

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

10 Comments on First Impressions: Torchwood

  1. I seem to recall a concept similar to the resurrection glove kicking off one of Jim Butcher’s novels, but I could be wrong.

  2. Unfortunately I reckon it went from okay to terrible quite quickly. Maybe I had too high expectations? But I just ended up hating it.

    Here’s my spoiler free review (the comments turned int a funny argument but may contain spoilers).

  3. Carles Tixé // September 10, 2007 at 6:03 am //

    As I have seen (chapter 8) I consider the quality is the same that the first episode. I recommend to all de SF fans.

    The resurrection of a criminal victim, I’m not sure, but I think is a short tale from Greg Egan.

  4. I should perhaps be more clear on the opening sequence — it was not the *idea* that I remember seeing, but the *exact footage* with the same actors. I know it was filmed months ahead of when they “officially” aired it in the US, I just can’t remember how I saw it.

  5. I agree with James. It started out promising and then seriously fell apart. I will watch season 2 anyway, but season 1 was a great disappointment.

  6. You’re going to be incredibly disappointed.

    And the airing seems off… You’re supposed to have seen all of Torchwood by the time you start (or at least finish) the latest season of Who, otherwise things going to be all messed up.

  7. I’m fond of bashing Torchwood, but it took a lot of risks, and some of them paid off. I like the gritty edge, and the feeling that (almost) no character is immune from death. Overall, I love the setting, but the writing sometimes has the feel of teens trying to write grown up. Hopefully season two will show some improvements in this area.

  8. The Egan resurrection is the opening of _Distress_, a novel, not a short.

    As to the merit of Torchwood proper: I gave up after episode four. You’ll know why when you see it.

  9. Uh-oh…it’s sounding like my expectations need a serious readjustment. Bummer. 🙁

  10. Goes from pretty good to eye-sporking in short order.

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