Torchwood: Children of Earth

Contains (tagged) spoilers.

It’s over. One of the most intellectually and emotionally challenging pieces of drama I have seen in a long, long time. I’ve only just managed to scrape together the detachment to throw together a few words about it.

It was a strange mix of factors that drew me into the show, but in the end it comes down to quality. The quality of the writing and the quality of the performances.

It did undoubtedly help that we got five instalments in daily doses; it would have been impossible to bear week long waits between episodes and momentum carried through as each day turned out to be even, impossibly, better than the one before. Having been out on Tuesday night I watched two episodes on Wednesday. Excitement overload.

And a peculiarity was that as the third season of a generally puerile show which had done little to develop the characters over the previous twenty-something hours, there were familiar characters that we grew to know far better than in the three years we’ve known them.

Then there was Ben Foster’s music: beautiful and exciting. Euros Lyn’s dynamic direction has been full of pace and frenetic action, but with moments of intimacy and the ordinary; the use of colour and the stunningly designed visuals have enhanced every shot.

But the writing: Russell T. Davies can be brilliant, but has rarely been this good, collaborating for one episode with James Moran. He manages those beautiful, heart-warming character moments so effortlessly, yet in other respects the writing has been unflinching. Almost all of the characterisation has been pitch perfect and even at its weakest, in the dialogue and motivations he has unerringly hit target. The collaboration in producing the pacing, structure and tone across the week has been impressive. And new to Who John Fay produced two outstanding episodes.

And the performances: so universally excellent, but notably Susan Brown, Ian Gelder and Paul Copley (whose technically accomplished performance was riveting). And Peter Capaldi. Wow. Peter Capaldi.

But it must be strange, if you liked the show, to have it grow up quite so suddenly and unexpectedly. A bit like finding your toddler has become a 35 year old father of three over night. For the rest of us, it’s the unprecedented phenomenon of what has apparently been tweeted about as “Jumping the Shark in reverse”. Perhaps the more worrying thing is the shock that the 3m or so viewers who were new to the show will get if they go back and watch some of the old episodes. Whatever the temptation, just don’t do it. It will probably make you physically ill.

Will there be more? “I€™d like to do a continuous story like this again, I have to say.” RTD told the Stage.

Whether it returns or not, this past week of Torchwood stands alone.

About Simon Wood

E-learning officer, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See simonwood.info for more…

7 thoughts on “Torchwood: Children of Earth

  1. I had forgotten, until I read Caitlin Moran’s review (which produced this from David Quantick), how much the tone changed over the week.

    Anyone who had been watching Torchwood Friday as the prelude to a “big night out” would have silently taken off their stilettos around 9.30pm and sat silently on the sofa with a large vodka, crying.

    Extraordinary that such an affecting drama involved a “high speed” chase with a forklift truck, but a testament to the conviction and bravura of the writing and performances.

    I’m suffering withdrawal. I want to watch it all again, but I don’t think I’ll be able to for a long time.

  2. I had forgotten, until I read Caitlin Moran’s review (which produced this from David Quantick), how much the tone changed over the week.

    Anyone who had been watching Torchwood Friday as the prelude to a €œbig night out€ would have silently taken off their stilettos around 9.30pm and sat silently on the sofa with a large vodka, crying.

    Extraordinary that such an affecting drama involved a “high speed” chase with a forklift truck, but a testament to the conviction and bravura of the writing and performances.

    I’m suffering withdrawal. I want to watch it all again, but I don’t think I’ll be able to for a long time.

Leave a Reply