Carrying The Torch

TW1a

“Everything Changes But You”

Doctor Who‘s first, fully formed, spin-off series hit the airwaves on Sunday night as the much hyped Torchwood debuted to astonishing viewing figures on BBC3. The trailers and teasers that clogged up the BBC, inter-programme gaps for a couple of weeks beforehand and the covers on listing magazines are pretty much unprecidented for a show on a digital channel. However, the show lived up to the promise and more than 2.3 million watched both episodes in the double-headed launch night, a record for non-terrestrial, non-sports TV in the UK. Torchwood’s heritage has been well established in the parent series: we see two characters resurrected from early Saturday evenings (the perfectly formed Captain Jack, who accompanied Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor on his final few adventures, and Toshiko Sato who appeared in a blink-and-you’ll-miss it cameo in The Aliens Of London); and then there was the arc story that spanned the second series. The question remained… regardless of the obviously high production values, would it be any good?

TW 1b

The first episode was entitled “Everything Changes” and served as an introdcution to the main cast as P.C. Gwen Cooper (played with wide-eyed naivity by Eve Myles) stumbled across the Torchwood team in action. A post-watershed drama written by Russell T Davies promises all sorts of grown-up goodness, most of which was delivered accordingly, although other than a smattering of swear words and a bit of blood, there was nothing too adult in episode one. Torchwood HQ is the Hub, set beneath Millenium Square in Cardiff and boasting an amazing array of levels and rooms and gantrys and gadgets (and a pterodactyl). The reveal of this episode’s baddie was a moment worthy of Spooks; the leading man, John Barrowman’s Jack Harkness, was suitably enigmatic and a good dash of mystery was added to his back story; the team consisted of no clearly defined good people or bad people, simply good, well rounded characters who I’ll enjoy getting to know more; and the script crackled with good lines and a fast plot. Comparissons to the X-Files are probably well founded, but it’s been a long time since any show had the potential to pick up the gauntlet that Chris Carter threw… perhaps we’ve found it.

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