Impressions of Torchwood from An Outsider

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Okay, I admit it.  I’ve never really been a fan of “Torchwood”.  I’ve never really watched it; well, that’s not entirely true.  I’ve seen the first five episodes of season one and while I thought it was okay, if I was to be totally honest, I really wasn’t that impressed.  

I don’t know what it is about this show, but it just doesn’t interest me.  Why, you ask.  Well, I think it has a lot to do with the fact that it’s a Russell T. Davies [RTD] creation and sadly I have never been impressed by this man’s writing credentials.  I think his writing qualifications are highly overblown and exaggerated.  I’ve seen numerous of his past productions and to be honest, I thought of those I’d seen, they weren’t really that good.  I think my main contention against RTD is that when it really comes right down to it, I think he is a very weak writer.  He doesn’t seem to follow through with his ideas and he seems to rely on quick fix or cop-out endings to his stories. – take for example most of his scripts for “Doctor Who”.  And for this alone, this is one of the reasons why I have avoided watching “Torchwood”

While I haven’t been watching the series, I have been keeping an eye on the show’s developments as reported in the press and through fandom.  So while I haven’t seen the series, I like to think I’ve fully kept up with what’s been going on, and from what I’ve read, it has made for interesting reading.  My general impression from all of what I’ve read is that “Torchwood” is a show that has struggled to find a format from day one.  It has been a show that its creators can’t decide what the format should be and it is a show that has struggled to find its voice.  I think it says a lot about a television show when each subsequent season has been reformatted over the previous season.  To me that says the show is in trouble.  And before you start criticizing me for saying this, I base this solid examples as experienced with past sci-fi series that have done the same thing – “seaQuest DSV, Earth Final Conflict, Andromeda”, for example.  I think it’s pretty sad when a series is continually re-tooled each subsequent season.  Granted “Torchwood” has aired for three seasons, but I think it’s fair to say that each of those seasons, has been very different to the others. 

Another point to the above argument is that it has taken “Torchwood” three seasons to finally find the format that truly works for it.  “Torchwood, as it was originally promised, is here at last,” so says Nick Mellish in his review featured on this very site – an assessment that seems to be echoed by the majority of fans and the fan press.

I hate to say it, but this really sums it up for me and points clearly to the fault with the series.  The format doesn’t work.  Maybe that’s a bit harsh, but I think it boils down to the point that when RTD created this series, I get the impression that he really didn’t spend a lot of time developing and refining the format.  I think he was keen to create something of his own while at the BBC.  Yes, he brought back “Doctor Who” but I think while he wanted to work in the “Who” universe, he truly wanted to create something of his own in that universe, and what he came up with was “Torchwood” – an idea I think that came to him and seemed to spend about “five minutes” developing the format.  I think RTD just said let’s do an adult version of “Doctor Who” and this was the whole basic idea, nothing more. 

I’m sorry if it seems like I’m bashing “Torchwood”.  I don’t mean to.  It’s just that I just can’t interested in it.  I’d like to, but every time I think about watching it, I’d continually end up watching something else instead.  It’s not like I don’t want to, I just don’t.  For example my friend Pat, was all excited about the forthcoming “Children of The Earth” season.  She’d phone me and tell me all the news about the forthcoming season.  Then when the season finally did air, she’d phone me each night and tell me about how good it was and how much she’d enjoyed it.  It all sounded fine but I just couldn’t get excited about it.  Pat kept saying to me I should download the show and I kept saying, “I would” but I never got around to it.  I still haven’t.  And now with the season out on video, I did go ahead an order a copy from Amazon.ca and I can tell you, just like I ordered and have seasons one and two, that once I get the third season DVD set, this set will join the other two sets on the shelf and gather dust, never to be watched.

Article by Bob Furnell, Whotopia Publisher and Senior Editor

Captain Jack portrait by Andy Hackett

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