by Catriona Mills

Articles in “Doctor Who”

Why Must You Hurt Me, Torchwood?

Posted 20 March 2008 in by Catriona

I looked forward to the first season of Torchwood, very much.

A Doctor Who spin-off? Set in lovely Cardiff? With Captain Jack Harkness? Absolutely count me in.

But then it just wasn’t very good. Not in the first season, anyway.

Or perhaps it would be fairer to say it was inconsistent.

One episode—“Captain Jack Harkness”—was sublime, and several others were extremely good, particularly “Countrycide,” although I also liked “Random Shoes” and “They Keep Killing Suzie.”

But others were slightly disappointing. It never hit the absolute low point that Doctor Who reached with Fear Her. (Thankfully, “Fear Her” was a one-off low, but oh my goodness it was a low.) But it also rarely reached the heights of “The Empty Child”/“The Doctor Dances” or “Blink” (yes, showing my Steven Moffat bias again). And nothing ever affected me like the Doctor’s flashback to Gallifrey in “The Sound of Drums,” when I actually teared up.

But then this season of Torchwood started, and I got excited all over again.

Because this is good. And it’s consistent. It’s frightening, and funny, and almost feels more like the original Doctor Who that I know and love—in a completely unquantifiable way that I’m going to leave deliberately vague—than the new Doctor Who does.

And Captain Jack Harkness—other prime-time shows have high-achieving, action-hero protagonists. None that I can think of have high-achieving, action-hero protagonists quite like Jack—and his relationship with Ianto is only part of why I think he’s significant.

But, damn, the show’s depressing.

And it’s starting to wear me down.

I like what they’re doing, the way they grapple with the idea that dealing with aliens on a planet with no space programme—at least not as we Doctor Who fans understand a space programme—is bound to end badly more often than not, because people are blinkered. They don’t want to believe what they see in Torchwood‘s Cardiff, and most of the time they don’t have to, because the aliens are the exception.

But, perhaps we could save the victim of the week just once or twice?

I hope I’m not an ostrich but I don’t want to be a pessimist, either.

Just every now and again, I’d like a happy ending.

And that goes for the makers of Green Wing as well.

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