Some informal remarks towards a calculus of modular culture or,
Torchwood: Children of Earth considered as a helix of semi-precious shows
God said to Abraham kill me a son
Abe said man, you must be putting me on
God said no — Abe said what?
God said you can do what you want Abe, but,
Next time you see me coming you better run.
Abe said where'd you want this killing done?
God said out on highway 61
— Bob Dylan
It was probably the simply embarassing post-script to the third Star Wars movie, Return of the Jedi, that first really taught me there is usually an inverse relationship between hype and reality. (And of course, this year's utter travesty of an end to the sometimes brilliant Battlestar Galactica was a superb reminder.)
While most of North America's children and geeks are making hits out of Star Trek or (god help us) of Transformers: Something-or-other, Great Britain's BBC has provided us with something a little different. A five-hour "special event", a mini-series broadcast (in the UK) on Monday through Friday of the week of the 6th called Torchwood: Children of Earth (it's airing starting tomorrow on BBC America in the States, but I haven't been able to pin down when it will show up in Canada).
And for a change, the work pretty much lives up to the hype.
Truth to tell, until now Torchwood has been mostly a guilty pleasure for me. A Doctor Who spin-off, Torchwood was and was meant to be a grittier, more "adult" version of the long-running children's show. The violence was more graphic, there was sex (male/female, female/female and male/male as well as "miscellaneous" — these people dealt with aliens, after all) along with near-nudity and swearing, including the F-word, at least during the first season.
By the end of the second, four of the seven original members of the "team" had died violent deaths, leaving fans to wonder whether this year's edition would introduce new characters. As it turns out, long-time fans will have more grieving to do — but I'll say no more along those lines.
For more, along with some (though — I hope — not too many) spoilers, please click the "read more" link below. Otherwise, book-mark and return once you've watched it — and then we can argue!