Tuesday, July 28, 2009

After watching "Torchwood: Children of Earth"

Spoiler Alert if you haven't seen all 5 episodes.

After years of refusing to get cable TV, I finally succumbed to family pressure this year. Quite honestly, what I like best is being able to watch Red Sox games, as I am a rabid baseball fan.

But my guilty pleasure has become several shows from BBC America and the SyFy channel. One of which is "Torchwood". It's a spinoff from "Doctor Who", a show I began to watch in my childhood and still have a soft spot for, but it's edgier and grittier and goes places "Doctor Who" has not. I haven't seen more than a handful of episodes, but got hooked watching the recently aired "Children of Earth" miniseries.

I suspect other writers have this problem, but now that I've wrestled a bit with issues of plot and characterization, it's hard for me to watch something (or read anything for that matter) without at least part of my brain attending to craft issues.

I found the "Torchwood" miniseries utterly compelling. Where I noticed a plot 'niggle' was in episode 4, where Captain Jack and Ionto confront the aliens, making a moral stand against their plan. That part of the scene was quite intense and emotionally resonant. But when the aliens are nonplussed, Jack and Ionto decide to take out their handguns and shoot the heavily reinforced glass containment structure to fight the alien.

That was a 'WTF' moment for me as a viewer. Surely the immortal and experienced Captain Jack would have thought of something more "Torchwood" than that. Come on, this guy's like MacGuyver on steroids.

It would have set up the sacrifice of the final episode had they decided to open the airlock to vent the alien atmosphere in the room. Yes, it would have killed Ionto and not Jack, but that would have been a more believable plot point. I could even believe Ionto making the decision to sacrifice himself after the aliens locked the doors and distributed the virus. After all, he figures he's going to die anyway--at least he could take the aliens with him.

Then the story could have gone in one of two ways--either they managed to kill the alien in the tank, and the ones in orbit would continue to be a threat, or they would fail to take out the alien in the tank and they would be the continuing threat.

I was also disappointed by the final 5 minutes of the show and the 'goodbye' between Jack and Gwen. It just didn't seem to carry the emotional heft that it might have had.

All in all, I did love "Children of Earth" and hope that "Torchwood" comes back.

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