Torchwood: Eyeball Cameras II

By Sam Lowry | August 3, 2009 11:15 am

I finally got around to watching Torchwood: Children of Earth this weekend.



Wow.  Bleak.  Maybe I shouldn’t have watched all five episodes in one afternoon, but I haven’t been this depressed since Dark Knight.  What happened to the randy, swashbuckling Captain Jack that we loved?

On the SciNoFi front though, Torchwood gives us the opportunity to revisit the topic of eyeball spy cameras, last seen in an episode of Dollhouse this spring.  As Stephen noted in a post at that time, scientists have been working on plugging directly into the brain (in cats at least) to locate and interpret visual processing activity.

Interestingly, the Torchwood contact lenses appeared to be a much more basic technology: essentially small video cameras that could transmit images back to a laptop and also display text messages to the wearer.

Given how far we have to go in understanding the brain, a contact lens camera is probably a more straightforward and only marginally more detectable solution for this kind of surveillance.  Eyeball sized cameras are already commercially available.

MORE ABOUT: Torchwood

Comments (6)

  1. coolstar

    After watching this Torchwood miniseries I feel as cheated as the people fooled into watching Batllestar. Here’s my recommendation: DO NOT DO IT. Last episode is so stupid as to ruin all previous Torchwood episodes EVER. It’s so stupid, on so many levels, it would take pages to innumerate them all: bad plot, incredibly bad science, unrealistic in every way from characterization to politics to and on and on….
    DO NOT DO IT as you’ll never think the same about Torchwood again.

  2. I actually wouldn’t go that far in panning it. I thought it had a lot of good sci-fi action and character development, particularly for Gwen. My objection was more around how they’ve morphed Captain Jack over the course of the three seasons into a very dark and depressing character. I was also uncomfortable with the use of violence against children as the key plot point.

    In terms of the science on Doctor Who or Torchwood, we at the blog generally try to approach it as TV fans as opposed to science journalists. Both shows rely on a healthy amount of suspension of disbelief. Once you’ve accepted that one guy is a alien time traveler and the other exists as “a fixed point in space and time,” it’s hard to start criticizing the sonic screwdriver.

  3. coolstar

    Sam: I appreciate your opinion and I *REALLY* wanted to like this mini-series. I’m willing to suspend a LOT of disbelief for Torchwood, which is what got me thru the first 4 episodes. It wasn’t the SF science that bothered me, it was the present-day type science. For instance, any number of presently available nerve agents will quickly kill a building full of trapped people, so that’s hardly evidence of a superior military technology and certainly nothing that ought to terrify an entire planet (much less Captain Jack) into committing an unspeakable atrocity. And calling the killing agent a virus is absurd. One can imagine bio-engineering really bad viruses (it’s been done, in fact) but NOT one that kills in seconds (and don’t forget the important “trapped” part of this scenario). That’s only one example and not even the best one, as the present day treatment of politics was just as absurd: getting ALL the world’s countries to even TRY to do the same thing in a couple of days? Please…… Even more-so when that thing would have caused riots with literally hundreds of thousands to millions of casualties. It’s that sort of thing: getting present day science and society wrong that bothers me much more than trying to do what science fiction was invented to do. (why would this set of aliens EVEN need the complicity of humans, other than to further the storyline?) Making these kinds of errors is what separates good intelligent SF (and writing in general) from the bad, in my opinion. Technobable in service of a good plot and good writing, a misdemeanor, at worst……..

  4. After watching this Torchwood miniseries I feel as cheated as the people fooled into watching Batllestar. My objection was more around how they’ve morphed Captain Jack over the course of the three seasons into a very dark and depressing character.

  5. Ksource

    I think that what alot of you are missing about Jack is that he has alot of the same issues the Doctor does, he can’t die but everyone around him can, will and do. Imagine living through that scenario over the course of centuries(let alone the 900 yrs of the Doctor’s life). If you watch torchwood as a standalone program you miss alot of the Who Universe and explainations about Jack. He has never been a really happy guy, and Children of earth ended with everyone he cared about including his lover being killed, save Gwen Cooper. He left because he thought that that was the best way to protect Gwen and Reese, he didn’t reconstitute Torchwood to protect people who would have been involved in future that could have died. When you live forever, you have to worry about the people around you, Jack can’t die, but that doesn’t mean that he’s immune to the loss of people close to him. I would challenge any of you to think about what losing everyone you know and care about would do you to, and then Judge Jack’s darkness. I was not remotely suprised(i have been watching Dr. Who since the Baker era)by this “change” in Jack. Torchwood was taken over by Jack so that he could continue the work he and the Doctor and Martha had done on the Tardis, and he got a taste of what it was like to be the Doctor, at least in the loss dept, and i think that made it easier for him to understand the Doctor’s attitude toward companions, and protecting them. Jack, as we learned on the Dr. Who front, is also the face of Bo, and is still alive in the year 1 million, if you see the interaction with the Doctor and the Face of Bo, as compared to the Doctor’s relationship with Jack/younger face of Bo, you understand that the Face of Bo has knowledge of how difficult it is to be the Doctor as well as the fact that the Doctor and the Face of Bo are close friends, and have been for thousands of years. The Doctor Who universe (and by extension, Torchwood) have wonderful stewards in Stephen Moffett and Russell T. Davies. There is no chance that they would write such a weak script (and they didn’t as you would know if you had any previous knowledge of the universe the 456 or Jack Harkness), these guys are fanboys like the rest of us, and have seen EVERY Doctor Who episode ever made (Stephen Moffett currently helms Doctor Who, Russel T. Davies, is the creator, and a writer on Torchwood, as well as helming Torchwood Miracle day for BBC/STARZ). You can’t just jump into a program that has such history and expect to be in any position to Judge the series on its merits with no knowledge of the previous series, and the laws of the universe, it would be like watching star trek deep space nine and not knowing anything about star trek or it’s universe. So as a Who/TW fanboy, if you want to watch them you’ll love them all, but if you don’t want to then don’t get online and give a review with no basic knowledge. Just go watch CSI or Law and Order, cause you’re obviously out of your depth in the Who/TW Universe.


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