Russell T. Davies not only brought DOCTOR WHO back to our screens in 2005, the show-runner/writer also spun off the concept of an alien-fighting secret organization called TORCHWOOD (hint: scramble those letters and see what you come up with) that debuted in Series 2 of the new WHO into its own series.
After two regular series, the show morphed into a single story for its third series, TORCHWOOD: CHILDREN OF EARTH, aired in five parts during one week. Possibly one of the greatest achievements in modern sci-fi television, the third series saga set the bar pretty high, but now TORCHWOOD returns as a co-production between the BBC and Starz, with an international cast and a ten-part fourth series that once again tells one complete story.
Will TORCHWOOD: MIRACLE DAY live up to the promise? It just might, but first here’s everything you need to know about this once Cardiff-based group and its clandestine adventures (and be warned, there are spoilers here for past TORCHWOOD stories through the end of CHILDREN OF EARTH).
1. Torchwood Was Established by Queen Victoria (who might be a werewolf!)
In the series 2 DOCTOR WHO episode “Tooth and Claw,” Victoria (Pauline Collins) was terrified by the Doctor as much as she was by an alien lycanthrope that just might have left her with a genetic abnormality. She conceived an organization that would work behind the scenes to collect alien technology and safeguard humanity from extraterrestrial threats. Torchwood was born.
2. The Cardiff Torchwood Base Was Built Over a Space/Time Rift
Part of the reason the early series of TORCHWOOD focused on Cardiff was that there was a peculiar rift that often allowed all manner of creatures to rampage through the UK from other worlds, dimensions and time zones. The rift was also a source of TARDIS power, but it’s gone now, sealed up with all the other similar cracks from Series 5 of DOCTOR WHO. And the base? Read on…
3. Torchwood Has Been Through Hell
As we rejoin the team, there isn’t much of one left. Originally comprised of leader Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman, more on him later), Toshiko “Tosh” Sato (Naoko Mori), Owen Harper (Burn Gorman), Ianto Jones (Gareth David-Lloyd), and newcomer (and initial audience identification figure), policewoman Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles), Torchwood has suffered heavy losses with only Jack and Gwen – plus her husband Rhys (Kai Owen) – surviving to this day. Gwen is a plucky fighter, but Jack does have an edge; he’s immortal. Oh yeah, about that…
4. Captain Jack’s Debut
Captain Jack first appeared in Series 1 of DOCTOR WHO as a Han Solo-ish rogue Time Agent and con artist. After traveling with the Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) and Rose (Billie Piper) for a while, Jack was killed during a Dalek invasion but was resurrected when Rose acquired godlike powers from the heart of the TARDIS. Ever since, Jack can no longer die, and has traveled back in time to live for centuries through Earth’s past up to the present day. But he keeps busy, which brings us to another important point.
5. Jack Has No Boundaries (Part One)
Once described as an “omnisexual,” and apparently similar to many other human beings from his home century (the 51st), Jack doesn’t see gender as a barrier to physical or romantic involvement. He’s had relationships with women, men and alien creatures of all shapes and sizes…sometimes all at once. But one of the great loves of his life was Ianto, who died in Jack’s arms during the events of CHILDREN OF EARTH. He probably still hasn’t gotten over it, and neither have a lot of Ianto fans in the real world (let it go, people, he’s gone).
6. Gwen’s Situation
Gwen once tried to shield Rhys from her double life as an alien hunter, but now Rhys is more or less part of the team (yeah, there isn’t one right now, I know). With a baby in the mix, Gwen has a lot to lose, so it will be interesting to see how her role plays out in this new story. Since she’s also shown a deep affection for Jack, she’ll surely be by his side no matter what, and Rhys will certainly be close behind. This is all the more interesting, especially since Jack did a pretty horrible thing last time they were together…
7. Jack Has No Boundaries (Part Two)
Jack sees the big picture, which sometimes means that he’s willing to make big sacrifices in order to win the day. In the conclusion of CHILDREN OF EARTH, Jack actually gave up the life of his own grandson – right in front of the child’s mother and Jack’s own daughter, no less – to save the rest of the world’s children. That isn’t an easy one to forgive, and it’s even more intriguing how Jack can even be perceived as a hero when he’s murdered one of his own family, but we’ll see.
8. So What Happened To That Cardiff Base?
It blew up back in CHILDREN OF EARTH when the government hunted down Torchwood rather than let them reveal the truth of a horrific human-alien conspiracy to the world. The remains of the Torchwood team were on the run for much of the rest of that story, and as we return Jack has been gone for some time and Gwen has moved on. So as we’ve already covered, there is no team anymore. But something is likely to rise from the ashes…
9. TORCHWOOD is not DOCTOR WHO
The show has always had a harder edge, although in the early shows that seemed to involve juvenile attempts at “adult” humor and sexuality rather than an actual darker mood. Nevertheless, TORCHWOOD stories often feature a greater slant toward the shadows compared to its parent show, and CHILDREN OF EARTH was apocalyptic in its tone and scope. The new series looks set to add an American component while still staying true to the balance of weird and down-to-Earth that TORCHWOOD can handle well.
10. If You Watch It, They Will Come
TORCHWOOD has been away for a couple years now, and as uneven as the show has been, it has a huge following with spectacular production value and storytelling in its last series. If MIRACLE DAY manages to keep that level of excitement and viewers tune in, TORCHWOOD is likely to continue. So tune in and see what happens when Jack and Gwen find themselves in the middle of a whole new mystery. But really, Ianto isn’t coming back. Ever.
Click on Link: Review of TORCHWOOD: MIRACLE DAY – “The New World”
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Article: 10 Things About Torchwood You Need To Know