Jack Harkness - John Barrowman
Gwen Cooper - Eve Myles
Ianto Jones - Gareth David Lloyd
Rhys Williams - Kai Owen
John Frobisher - Peter Capaldi
Clem - Paul Copley
OTHER TORCHWOOD SERIES
OTHER JOHN BARROWMAN SHOWS
Doctor Who (Christopher Eccleston)
Doctor Who (David Tennant)
OTHER DOCTOR WHO PAGES
Doctor Who (Tom Baker)
Doctor Who (Sarah Jane Smith)
OTHER DOCTOR WHO SPIN OFFS
Sarah Jane Adventures
DAY 1 - First transmitted 6th July 2009
On an ordinary day in Cardiff Jack and Ianto are bickering about whether they are a couple or not, Gwen is not showing up to look at a house with Rhys and bodies are going missing from the local hospital morgue. The day becomes less ordinary at 8.40 when all the children in the world simply...stop. Moments later, they are running around like normal, but later they stop again and this time they utter a warning that 'we are coming'. The United Nations Intelligence Taskforce picks up on the alien threat at once, but so do the Torchwood team and they're one step ahead by finding the only grown up to have been affected. The story goes back to 1965 and it could have deadly implications for all of the Torchwood team.
It's time for something different in the third season of TORCHWOOD. In this case the difference is one overarching story running on five consecutive nights and this is one hell of an opener. It starts of light and funny, turns into a mystery and then explodes into an action story, all in the space of a single, exciting hour.
The show's not about to hide its influences, either. The kids doing their screaming thing is straight out of the 1978 version of INVASION OF THE BODYSNATCHERS and the mass effect on the populace has been done before on the revamped DOCTOR WHO with people standing on rooftops and the like, but the biggest steal is the provision of the cliffhanger ending which is taken wholesale from THE DARK KNIGHT in a theft that even the Joker might find beyond a joke.
The story is propelled along with an irresistible pace that is less about Russell T Davies racing over the cracks in his story than about a good story that wants to get out there and be told. This being the opening episode, though, there are more questions than answers - who are the aliens, why were they here before, what do they want with our children, why must Captain Jack Harkness be killed, who was in league with the aliens back in 1965? More importantly, who is going to survive the explosive (pun intended) cliffhanger?
It's not just about plot and action, though. The comedy banter between the team is genuinely funny and they have gelled quite nicely since last we saw them. The revelation of the family relationship that Jack has is brilliant and Ianto's sister's reaction to the truth about his relationship with Jack is priceless. Yes, the Russell T Davies gay agenda may be back, but it seems quite in keeping with what's going on and the characters that it's going on to. Gwen's interrogation of the mental patient with more clues than most is well-written and played and quite touching in a quiet way.
Influences and steals aside, this is one of the best episodes that TORCHWOOD has put together ever and leaves us just panting for more. Now it's not very often we get to say that.
It could be a good week.Top
DAY 2- First transmitted 7th July 2009
In the aftermath of the explosion that devastated the Hub, Gwen is on the run with Rhys, heading for London in the hope of finding someone in the halls of Government who can explain why they have been targeted. The man that it should be, Frobisher, is in receipt of a message to build something for the same beings that are manipulating the children. Ianto is desperate to find Jack, and Jack is in need of being found because he has just been sealed in a block of concrete.
The blistering pace with which the opening episode of this truncated series kicked off couldn't be kept up, but even though things have slowed down, at least initially, that merely allows enough space for the story and characters to breathe for a moment. Gwen's moment for telling Rhys about her pregnancy is both comic and touching, Ianto finds that the family he ignores can still come through for him. He's also desperate to help Jack and Jack is really in need of that help.
Jack's inability to die plays a central part in this episode. Having survived being blown apart, his recovery is seriously painful-looking (oh and anyone with a low threshold for gore might want to look away at times), but it's the measure taken to 'contain' him that is the most chilling of all.
We don't really learn a lot more about what's going on or who the 456 are or what they want, but the Torchwood team learn a lot more about who they are up against and by the end it looks like they've stopped reacting and it's time to take the fight home. That said, the children have announced that they are coming back tomorrow, so revelations are sure to be made.
The only less than successful aspect of all this is the action. The sniper on the roof in Cardiff has both Gwen and Ianto cold and yet manages to miss them both despite loosing more ammunition than the average A TEAM episode. Gwen manages to shoot all four tyres of a pursuing vehicle from the front (you try it) and the breakout from a high-security military installation is...well absurd wouldn't be too far off the mark.
A step down from last night's show it might have been, but it's still compelling, entertaining, fascinating stuff. Roll on tomorrow night.Top
DAY 3- First transmitted 8th July 2009
With the team back together again, they set about 'procuring' the things they need in order to function from one of Torchwood's derelict buildings. This is the day and the 456 descend upon London into the tank that has been prepared for them. The americans are less than pleased that they weren't chosen for first contact and the Prime Minister manoeuvres John Frobisher into being in charge of the negotiations. The truth behind what happened in 1965 begins to be revealed, at least to the Torchwood team, whilst the the leaders of the world learn what the 456 really want.
This third episode keeps up the quality of the show in general whilst going off in another direction. There is little to no action to speak of, but a whole lot of story and character development.
Oh and what story and character developments they are. Frobisher takes centre stage, but is simply a pawn of all those who want something. It's an excellent performance from Peter Capaldi as he holds it together in the face of mind-shattering first contact situations and then loses it in private. Despite doing some really bad things, he has our sympathy.
Not quite so successful are the 456. Locked away in a tank full of smoke, the glimpses that we are given are less than impressive.
Those effects, though, are the least important thing on the show. This is about the people and the plot and both are up to the challenge.
Hard though it is to believe, TORCHWOOD is now unmissable.Top
DAY 4- First transmitted 9th July 2009
In 1965 Jack Harkness was part of a team that gave twelve children over to the 456 in order to save the species from being wiped out by an alien plague. The guilt has eaten away at him ever since. Now the aliens have demanded 10% of the world's population and, whilst the Torchwood team watch helplessly to the images transmitted by Lois, the government begin to discuss how to choose which children will be handed over. It's time for Torchwood to strike back, but that action will have consequences both personal and global.
There is an event in this episode that makes it impossible to properly review without massive spoilers, so stop reading now if you don't want to know. There will only be one warning after this.
For the longest period in this episode, the Torchwood team are sidelined to mere spectators of the plot, but that's OK because this plot is bigger than just the stories of the Torchwood team. Whilst Jack reveals what he did, how he helped with a travesty, another much larger one is being discussed. How could anyone face the choice between millions of innocent children and the whole human race? How could you choose, how could you take those children away? What sort of person could make those decisions? Apparently the most venal, self-serving and cowardly it would appear. In a time when politicians are hardly the most highly thought of individuals on the planet, this depiction of them will do no favours at all. They are all invidious, manipulative and pretty much hateful, which is a shame because it dampens slightly the power of the arguments being ranged that would have worked better had the people being forced to make them been obviously good people driven to think the unthinkable.
As these discussions are played out, Torchwood finally springs into action and the pace switches from fascinating and thought-provoking to high action. The tack that the team take is to hit the politicians where it hurts, on their own turf, and to take the fight to the aliens. It's time to make a stand, but oh what will that stand cost? This is the point to stop reading.
The slimmed-down team of TORCHWOOD following the deaths of Owen and Tosh at the end of Season 2 has been working well throughout this story and so it comes as a major shock when Ianto is killed. Yes, Ianto is killed. His death is hugely dramatic, but also very real in that it has no glory and achieves nothing, other than to make Jack the most vengeful man on the planet and he is not a man you want to make angry. The farewell scene between John Barrowman and Gareth David Lloyd is nicely underwritten and well played by the pair, but the audience is still too much under the shock to deal with that.
When it comes to the intimate story or the big picture there can be no denying that this is drama of the highest quality and science fiction as it should be - exciting, entertaining and thought-provoking on some very big issues.
With only an hour left to go the only question remaining is how can the writers possibly resolve all this? This might be the longest 24 hour wait in science fiction history.Top
DAY 5- First transmitted 10th July 2009
The 456 reveal why they really need the children and it's horrifying. The government put into action their plan to gather up the necessary children and its terrifying. Frobisher learns that his children will be part of the plan and its tragic. And Jack comes up with a possible solution, but it's possibly worse than anything else he could have thought of.
Over four nights TORCHWOOD: CHILDREN OF EARTH has come from nowhere to be a landmark moment in British television history. With tonight's episode, it crowns that achievement with a finale that is so utterly brilliant it is almost impossible to believe from the show whose FIRST SEASON was so universally unloved.
Be warned, though this is not about entertaining its audience. This final episode is all about putting that audience through an emotional wringer that will leave them stunned, shocked, disbelieving and emotionally drained. If you thought losing Ianto on Day Four was hard then that is light relief compared with what you will be put through in this finale. We can't review it without spoilers so stop reading if you haven't watched it.
No, really we mean it. If you haven't seen it then go and get the DVD (we don't care how) and watch it.
We'll start with the reason that the 456 need the children. They're not part of the beings as we at first thought, but are actually being used as drugs by the aliens, living doses. It's grotesque and it's horrible and it sets the tone for what is to follow. Frobisher learns that his children will be the first to go to the aliens because it is politically expedient for it to be so. His solution will make you flinch, four times. Oh yes, this is very, very dark.
Then, as the kids are gathered and prepared, there's an attempt at some action with Gwen and Rhys trying to save Ianto's nephew and neice and Jack is released to find a possible solution. Oh, but that light at the end of the tunnel is a freight train coming the other because the solution is possibly the worst thing that he could have been personally asked to do.
The story could have softened, there might have been other alternatives for characters at certain points, but this TORCHWOOD's not going to shy away from anything. Forget looking into the abyss, this is strapping on two tonne weights and hurling itself in there bodily. If it wasn't so utterly compelling, unrelenting and excellently acted then it could have been depressing to the point of unwatchability (OK, it's not a word, but we're still under the shock).
This could mark the end of TORCHWOOD, and that might be the wise choice because topping this isn't going to be easy (hell it's not even going to be hard, it's going to be damned near impossible), but if this is the end then the show bows out with one of the best pieces of drama (genre or otherwise) that has come out of the British television industry for a very long time.Top
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