Thursday, February 12, 2009


I had always known about Doctor Who. When I was a child, it was a British cult favorite that had been on one of the public channels with no commercials you weren't supposed to watch without donating. It was in black and white. It had a very odd looking man (sometimes a different man) with big curly hair and big striped scarf. The show which had been around since 1963 was most recognizable for its very cheesy special effects. I never watched it because not only did it look bad --- I was freaked out by that creepy, hippy pot music theme song.

By time I had become obsessed with British television, the BBC had reintroduced Doctor Who. I was mildly interested, but never seemed to jump in. It seemed like there was a lot going on and that I'd missed waaay too much. Plus, Rose (I commonly referred to as "the blonde woman" at the time ...) had left the show and now Martha ("the black woman") had become the new companion --- and there was already a "new Doctor." I felt like I had missed too much.

So ... when the BBC created the Doctor Who spin off, Torchwood (an anagram, we all know by now, of the words "Doctor Who"), I was intrigued. I could start fresh! There was a man proclaiming in downtown Cardiff,"The 21st century is when everything changes."
I was hooked! The Torchwood Institute, led by the sexy dark-haired, suspenders and trench coat wearing, Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), caught aliens and gathered alien technology. Something big was coming. In the very first episode, we witness the quiet, but authoritative operations of Torchwood through the eyes of newcomer, beautiful, doe-eyed officer, Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles). She meets Captain Jack and the rest of this underground organization, Torchwood: Susie Costello (Indira Varma), Toshiko "Tosh" Sato (Naoko Mori, Saffy's little friend, "Sarah" from Ab Fab), Dr. Owen Harper (Burn Gorman) and Ianto Jones (pronounced "yen-toe" and played by Gareth David-Lloyd). Gwen is instantly swept into adventures including a glove that could bring murder vitcims back to life for a matter of minutes, a floating sexual alien that reduced its male prey to dust at the height of orgasm, murderous faeries, a mind reading pendant and eventually an alien so vast and evil that anyone who fell within his shadow would drop dead. The biggest alien mystery of them all is Jack himself. A total enigma, unbelievably harsh at times, overtly sexual and aggressive at others, but honestly gentle and caring at the heart of it all, Jack is a man who can't die --- and doesn't know why --- who once, apparently, used to travel with The Doctor. Torchwood is set in a different more realistic world (on Earth) than Doctor Who. Threats are real and not as much cosmic. Their drama is more Earth-bound. One of the best scenes ever was Gwen's reaction to a particular death (I can't tell you who) involving time travel and the "end of days." It was the best acting ever and I think I replayed it over and over again on my DVR just for the tears alone. (Eve Myles ROCKS!!!) It also helped that Captain Jack was carrying on an affair with one of his male team members, Ianto. Openly! Male to male kissing!!! Forreal. And by the end of season one, I was no longer thinking of Naoko Mori as "Sarah from Ab Fab" anymore ... but my beloved "Tosh."
By time season 2 came along, I was OBSESSED. So, I worked backwards. I wasn't able to watch Doctor Who from beginning to end because I was catching it on the BBC and ignoring it on the SciFi Channel (which was airing season 4). I think I saw most of season 3 before season 2, caught parts of season 4, then completed 1 and 2 --- all of season 4 --- it was a mess. But, it was some of the best stuff I'd ever seen! I was originally supposed to talk solely about The Doctor, but I fell in love with Torchwood first. So, here's Torchwood. By the end of season 2, nobody is who you thought they were. The stakes are higher and the show just gets better and better. At this point, season 3 - "Children of the Earth" is on its way.

Torchwood with help from The Doctor's companion, Martha Jones!
Gwen Cooper is considered the "heart" of the group. Just like Rose with The Doctor, Gwen teaches Jack that there's a better way. Sometimes people are people and not just aliens. Her cop skills lend itself nicely to the Torchwood investigations. Her life often becomes complicated when she can't tell her fiance, Rhys that she catches aliens, almost dies more than enough on the job and has saved the world multiple times during her frequent, relationship-disrupting disappearances.
Gwen and Jack, then Ianto


Ian a.k.a. Darktomahawk said...

I have always loved Doctor Who. The new series leave a little to be desired for the old die-hard fans, but it isn't bad.

Torchwood is an excellent creation. Not better than Doctor Who, but certainly more realistic, for sure. I can't wait to see what happens in the new season. Supposedly both Martha and Mickey (Noel Clarke, another of the Doctor's traveling companions) will both be joining the cast. Should be fun!

Great post Victor.

Victor Hodge said...

I, unfortunatley, haven't seen any of the old Doctor Whos. I absolutely love Chris Eceleston and especially David Tennant. I think I can handle the new Doctor coming. I loved season 4 and Donna Noble. But, I'm also a big, big Catherine Tate fan. I didn't know what to expect either first. I'm looking forward to the new Torchwood, but a little annoyed that season 3 is only 5 episodes. I'm nervous about Mickey and Martha being on Torchwood because people have the tendency to die. I figured they would join since they ran off into the Doctor Who sunset with Jack.