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Thursday 14 December 2017

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Torchwood – BBC drama puts Cardiff on the sci-fi map

The Torchwood team - washed, and ready for action (BBC 2008)

Torchwood – UK sci-fi drama grown up

WARNING! Plot spoilers abound in the below article. Oh well, I did warn you…

I thought the first series of Torchwood was sensational, but with series two, the BBC have taken adult British sci-fi to a level which surely leads the rest of the world.

Creator Russell T Davies is no stranger to critical acclaim, having given us the fantastic new Dr Who franchise, and previously the much admired Queer as Folk, but with Torchwood, even Russell has excelled himself.

The characters are all rich, and the depth invested in them by each cast member is nothing short of genius. It would be hard to pick a lead, as each and every performer contributes his or her own special magic to make televisual perfection.

Davies is clearly a fan of Joss Whedon’s cult classic Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and there have been one or two brilliant nods to this forerunner throughout the series. But the ultimate stroke of genius has to be the casting of James Marsters (Buffy’s Spike) as Captain John Hart, adding sharp wit and even camper humour, particularly in the superbly scripted banter with Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman).

Fine performances too from Eve Myles as Gwen Cooper, Burn Gorman as Dr Owen Harper, Naoko Mori as Toshiko Sato and Gareth David Lloyd as Ianto Jones lend even more weight to the mix, leading to Torchwood being promoted from BBC 3 (where it won fantastic audience figures) to BBC 2 for series two.

As it hurtled towards its apocalyptic finale, the second series made some pretty tough choices along the way. We thought we’d lost Owen for good in episode six (Reset) as he was dispatched by Jim from Neighbours (Alan Dale) in a timely plot twist.

But as Dead Man Walking, Owen continued to be a regular throughout the rest of the series, almost lulling us into a false sense of security, so by the time of his ultimate dispatch in the final episode (Exit Wounds) we were sent into spasm all over again, and then finished off completely with the unexpected murder of Tosh by Jack’s brother Gray (Lachlan Nieboer). I defy anyone to watch those closing moments without shedding a tear, beautiful scenes written by Chris Chibnall and sensitively directed by Ashley Way which must rank among the best in British drama for many a year.

How a future Torchwood will fare without half of its team is anyone’s guess. Is Owen really gone for good? Can Tosh be brought back with the resurrection glove for more than two minutes? Would she want to be? Oh gosh – the suspense is killing me already!

All images used in this post are copyright © BBC 2007/2008 and reproduced by kind permission

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3 Responses to “Torchwood – BBC drama puts Cardiff on the sci-fi map”

  1. Nina W. says:

    Totally agree. I loved both seasons of Torchwood, but the last three episodes this season completely blew me away! Season 3 cannot come fast enough!

  2. John says:

    Great article, sounds like a great show (we’re at a shortage of these in the US as of late, I’ll have to check the BBC channel I have on cable for this one)

    Just wanted to let you know I’ve posted a source line under that picture of Bela Lugosi I had up in the article on my blog. Thanks very much for the heads up. Take care,
    John

  3. Nige Burton says:

    Cheers for that, John. Torchwood is amazing – well worth tracking down if you’ve not managed to see it yet!

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