My Blog has moved!

Thanks for visiting, but my blog has now moved to a new home at, if you have javascript enabled you should automatically be redirected to the right place, if not then please follow the link directly to my new home page.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Torchwood Ex Machina

The BBC have just screened the final episode of the five night Torchwood season three, Children of Earth, and already the fan sites are exploding with debate about characters lost, plot holes, and open endings.

I don't normally watch Torchwood, but I was pleasantly surprised by the mini-series. It was well-made, intelligent sci-fi.

There were flaws, mainly in the actions of the government, which was realistically evil but uncharacteristically feeble (when will people learn that our government is dangerous precisely because it is capable!), but I have tremendous respect for the way that the series challenged our conventions of heroic sacrifice - through the tragic homosexual romance of its leading men, and the cold-hard rationalism behind not only the government's actions, but also those of Captain Jack in the final concluding moments.

Perhaps most impressive part of all was the final conclusion. This is so difficult to do in a grand story, because Act II is so necessarily dark and full of despair, that when the light finally shines it can seem trite and forced. But Torchwood paid for its particular Deux Ex Machina moment - and the cost fitted the theme so perfectly that it concluded the story neatly, without leaving the viewer feeling cheated.

Having praised modern American drama, I was very happy to see similar quality on the BBC. Torchwood aired on BBC 1 and apparently attracted nearly 6 million viewers. It was brave of the BBC to pitch this over five consecutive nights, and very brave to put this subject matter on at prime time, but I think its worked. Torchwood is not genius - check out Psychoville for that - but this was solid mainstream sci-fi drama, and a real return to form.

1 comment:

J. Nathan Matias said...

I agree; it was quite nice.

Russell Davies, like CS Lewis, has a great faith in the sense of ordinary people which makes the great evil in their stories somehow more palatable. Great evil has to be a conspiracy of the powerful few rather than a slow build-up of bad choices by a fearful populace.

In a country where it's illegal (under terrorism laws) to photograph the police, and no one seems to mind, this can seem quite shallow.