DVD Review: Torchwood: Children of Earth

12 Jul

*****

If you’re not still in shock after last week’s epic Torchwood Week on BBC1 (and if not, where were you?) this DVD release of all five episodes is all you need to help you catch-up on perhaps the finest reversal of fortune for a TV series since…well, ever.

A normal day for the Torchwood Cardiff gang, led as ever by Captain Jack Harkness (the omnipresent John Barrowman), soon goes awry when the world’s children all stop in unison and start chanting the same phrase of “We are coming.”

Meanwhile in London, Government ministers, led by John Frobisher (Peter Capaldi) and Prime Minister Green (Nicholas Farrell) are reminded of past misdemeanours when contact is established with the mysterious alien race known as the 456.

Soon Torchwood is facing the full might of a Government keen to cover-up its secrets, the team raising their game far beyond the reaches of Cardiff Bay as the planet edges ever closer to chaos.

While series three of the Doctor Who spin-off finds Torchwood with both fewer staff and episodes than previous years, a result of the cast culling in series two and BBC budget cuts in the real world, something stranger than the arrival of the 456 has happened to the show: it’s now worth watching.

Gone are attempts to enliven less-than-enthralling plots with soft-core titillation, mainly the result of a series rushed into production back in 2006, to be replaced by a strong central plot and rounded characters that make you care about their world and predicament.

Eve Myles proves herself the heart of the show as Gwen Cooper, finally becoming more than the audience-cipher she was intended to be from episode one of series one, a role tainted by the shoddy treatment she was given by the scriptwriters who simply didn’t understand what they had in Myles’ tough-yet-compassionate Cooper.

Of the guest cast, Capaldi is memorable as bureaucrat Frobisher, his journey well told across five hours. There’s also Peter Copley as the eternally-terrified Clem, another fine performance from one of the UK’s most underrated actors.

Writer/producer Russell T Davies has retooled and refreshed the series, plunging the once carefree Captain Jack ever further into darkness while hinting that the programme may return a quite different beast than we’re used to.

Given these five episodes high ratings on its initial run – rarely dropping far beneath the 6 million mark – this DVD release should prove a hit, which is no less than the makers deserve.

Torchwood: Children of Earth is out on DVD and Blu-ray on Monday 13 July.

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One Response to “DVD Review: Torchwood: Children of Earth”

  1. cockbongo 15 July, 2009 at 11:20 pm #

    Yeah, it was totally watchable. But it felt to me like an old 4-part Dr Who story from the 70s – you know, nothing *really* happens for 2 whole episodes, lots of long conversations, a hurried conclusion, a plot that should barely have stretched over 3 episodes, you know the thing. Admittedly, most of the viewers won’t remember when Who used to be like that. And yeah, it was very bleak – like it was trying too *hard* to be bleak and adult and harsh and “oooh look how far we can go and how meaningful we can be”.

    But in the end Captain Jack buggered off, and it knocked the previous 2 series into a big gay cocked hat. So I suppose it was worth it in the end.

    Like you were going to get a good review from me…;o)

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