I finally got around to watching Torchwood: Children of Earth this weekend.
[MINOR SPOILER ALERT]
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.
This is the second part of the interviews arranged by the BBC to talk to luminaries from the Doctor Who and Torchwood universe. In this one, Russell T. Davies (executive producer), Euros Lyn (director of Torchwood: Children of Earth) talk about the unexpected success of “Children of Earth,” what it was like working on their childhood dream shows, and what they may be doing next. Unlike the last audio clip (with David Tennant), I did ask a question to Davies about the science of Doctor Who, but he didn’t seem all that keen on that line of inquiry.
While you’re waiting for the imminent return of Torchwood, there is an awful lot of John Barrowman on BBC America right now.
Any Dream Will Do is a reality competition for aspiring West End actors/singers trying to land the lead in a new London production of Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The host is a somewhat subdued (compared to his late night show) Graham Norton. The judges include Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber himself and your very own Captain Jack Harkness.
Whether or not musical theater reality competitions are your cup of tea, one episode of this show will leave you wondering, “How does the BBC find a dozen talented singers in the UK, while American Idol can only produce one in a much larger country?”
With that out of the way, I’ll add that the show is also showing troubling signs of flaming out after the upcoming mini-series. Series Two had at least one genuinely terrible episode (“From Out of the Rain”) and a few marginal ones (“Something Borrowed,” “To The Last Man”).
Unlike Doctor Who, Torchwood doesn’t have a multi-decade reserve of goodwill and nostalgia to fall back on. Unlike Buffy, Captain Jack isn’t a teenager whose adolescent angst can be mined for a season’s worth of new story arcs.
Here are five things we’d like to see more (and less) of in the Series 3 mini-series that would improve the prospects for the show to live on.
Next month, BBC Video is releasing the box set of Torchwood: The Complete Second Season. Available on September 16th, and retailing for $79.98, this series chronicles the further adventures of the staff of Torchwood, an organization set up to protect the Earth from any aliens or advanced artifacts that might wash up on our shores. Set in Cardiff, Wales, (the location of a rift in time and space) Torchwood is a spinoff of Doctor Who, and in this season it really finds its stride as its own show with its own sensibilities. Intended for older audiences than the family-friendly Doctor Who, Torchwood is darker and more introspective, themes which are counterbalanced by humor and a high quotient of action-adventure scenes, as well as a fair amount of sex, on- and off-screen.
Season Two was 13 episodes long, and while this may seem short in comparison to most U.S. programs, a hell of a lot of material gets packed in, and every character is developed in some depth. The series builds up to a shattering finale, and on the way manages to extract some terrific, and surprising, performances from guest stars like James Marsters (best known for playing the character of Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.)
And onto the Torchwood panel:
… or if you prefer, “The UK X-Files.”