Tag Archives: starz

In defense of Torchwood

From Torchwood: Miracle Day ep 107 "Immortal Sins"

So, Torchwood finished last week and as the show reached its climax, the complaints on this blog slowed to a trickle. Whether that’s because people lost interest or started to get drawn into it, it’s hard to say, but from my point of view – whilst the show didn’t reach the heights of Children of Earth – it was good (I’m not the only one that thinks so).

There’s always a challenge for writers when they decide to ‘reboot’ a show (or, as in this case, are forced to by funding circumstances), and the benefit of shows like Dr Who and even Star Trek – is that when they are rebooted, fans know what to expect. That’s not meant to be the same Doctor, or the same Captain Kirk; the settings are different, the context is different, the cast is different. In this case, Captain Jack and Gwen brought continuity and expectation with them, and so many loyal fans, it seems, found the changes a bridge too far.

I have to admit, as someone that is a big fan of American TV, I’m totally baffled as to some of the criticisms leveled at the show; it was too "Americanized"? Really? Why do you think Spooks, Doctor Who, etc., have got more exciting over the years – because they’ve ignored the conventions of American TV production? I’d argue the opposite is true; the episode lengths dictated by most American TV, the scheduling, all of it – has forced British serial writers to think beyond six episodes to longer story arcs, and learn how to tell stories within the stories.

I’ll freely admit Miracle Day wasn’t perfect. Elements of it were slower moving than they needed to be; the episodic sub-arcs didn’t grip and the overall ‘crisis’ only made marginal sense (which is par for the course with Torchwood, but when you’ve waited ten episodes for the climax… you expect more!), but it seems (and this is reflected in a few of the comments) to have been successful at drawing a new audience in. So perhaps it did what it was designed to do.

We don’t know if there’ll be a season 5 yet, but for more insights into the show production, have a read of this interview with Jane Espenson, one of the writer/producers on the show with Russell T Davies, and a longtime cohort of Joss Whedon. I’m hoping there’ll be more.

Torchwood: Miracle Day premier – first thoughts

Torchwood Miracle Day 101_27

We finally watched the season premier of the new Torchwood.

I wasn’t as blown away as I’d hoped. The premise of the show is great and well-advertised (death stops working), and the reveal of the specifics of this within the show is pretty entertaining (and surprisingly gory for a Doctor Who spin-off).

They’ve successfully introduced the new cast – a mobile phone addicted Mekhi Phifer and a generic young, female, attractive CIA agent amongst them, and a creepy paedophile. But the majority of the episode was spent revealing what you probably knew if you’d watched any of the trailers: death has stopped happening and its going to cause problems for planet Earth. And it has something to do with Torchwood.

That said; the production values are ridiculous compared to previous seasons and some of the sequences are fantastic. Jeep vs helicopter on a seaside car chase? Bet on the jeep, every time.

I’m hoping that the show picks up its pace now that the initial unveiling is done. I guess that it had to be from first principles, given that the cable tie-up (the show is co-produced by American cable TV network, Starz, which also co-produced Camelot) will bring it to new audiences in the US. Although I’m not looking forward to seeing Captain Jack’s willy as some are (or not, as the case may be).

Still, looking forward to the next one.

Channel 4’s Camelot

[camelot001] BBC NEWS RELEASE - NEW CAMELOT TV SHOW BOOSTS CAMELOT CASTLE POPULARITY......We’re quite enjoying Camelot, otherwise known as home to the campest Arthur ever, as well as the butchest Merlin. Whilst the pacing has felt somewhat off over the first two episodes, the production values are very high, the filming is slick and creative, and it feels like a different, engaging take on the tale. OK, so it’s not as funny as Merlin and it doesn’t star my friend Jimbo*, but the various conflicts they’ve begun to lay out look to be great fun.

Starz, the American network that’s co-producing the show, is also co-responsible for the new series of Torchwood. Which is rather exciting, and bodes well for the quality of production there. Arvind tells me that the co-writer on the new Torchwood is the same guy that stewarded Joss and Buffy to greatness, so that bodes well for the quality of writing…

One point to note in passing though; between this and Game of Thrones, there seems to be a new genre of televised fantasy developing that relies rather heavily on random nudity. I wonder if that’s American cable TV ratings-pandering, or ‘gritty dramatic realism.’ Either way, it’s a little overdone in Camelot (why did she have to be naked to talk to that wolf?).

Ah – just noted – Camelot’s been canned, too. Damnit.


* Our little joke. Jimbo looks a little like Colin Morgan, star of Merlin.