Jun 3, 2010

[TV] Torchwood: Season 2

Torchwood: Season 2It always impresses me how British TV seems to be a lot friendlier to science fiction and fantasy programs than in the US. Beyond major mainstream science fiction shows like Doctor Who, many British science fiction and fantasy shows manage to make it as far as a second season while their US counterparts get cut off even mid-season. But that's life I suppose and there's not accounting for differences in taste across the ocean. I'm not saying the shows are guaranteed full runs all the time - but at the very least they're given a chance o grow and have a higher likelihood of reaching the second season. But I know it doesn't happen all the time - I'm talking about you, No Heroics!

Still, it's certainly a nice trend to notice and it's no wonder that a lot of good science fiction TV manages to emerge from the British Isles to fascinate the geeky world at large (this geek included). Of course I doubt anyone could have predicted how a show that's part Doctor Who, part X-Files, part Buffy and probably part Melrose Place would have managed to become successful, but it did, at least for a while.

And thus we come back to Torchwood, which a lot of people jokingly refer to as Doctor Who for adults given its post-watershed airtime. But it still did so with good British humor, and that's all that should matter over there, right?

For those who came in late, Torchwood is the BBC science fiction drama that follows the Cardiff branch of a secret organization created to investigate extraterrestrial and supernatural phenomena. The Torchwood crew are a rather quirky bunch, but they're still a nicely endearing batch of misfits who somehow manage to work together without killing one another. Well, at least not entirely, given that last item.

List of Torchwood charactersImage via Wikipedia

The second season certainly tried to up the ante in terms of how it dragged the characters across the country given interesting higlights such as (1) the introduction of Captain John Hart (James Marsters) as Jack's (John Barrowman) former partner (in more ways than one, mind you), (2) time-travel to World War I times, (3) Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) joining the show for a while, (4) Owen (Burn Gorman) becoming a strange undead horny bastard and ultimately (5) a few major characters dying. Ah yes, all this and Jack gets to be all omnisexual-like but clearly demonstrating an on-going relationship with all-around useful bloke Ianto Jones (Gareth David-Llyod).

You have to love the show for trying to push the envelope in their own right.

As much as the season was interesting, at times it felt like it was spending more time pandering to audiences in hoping to play the ratings. What made me think this are items like (1) James Marsters becoming a recurring guest star on the show for this season, (2) the need to involve the iconic Martha Jone, who was a fan favorite over at Doctor Who and (3) the half-in, half-out banter between Jack and Ianto without definitely stating whether or not they were "officially" together, as if this was Moonlighting or something. Plus there was the Toshiko (Naoko Mori) and Owen relationship which became very odd after Owen's demise. The only episode that felt truly interesting and striking to me was Adam, which involved a an alien who had the ability to manipulate memories and decides to insert himself into the lives of the Torchwood team in order to survive. It was a very odd concept and in the end presented a interestingly disturbing episode where you can only watch helplessly as the characters cannot remember not having Adam in their lives.

Despite a seemingly lesser amount of creativity in comparison to the first season, this next run of Torchwood was certainly interesting and it did a lot to further develop the stories around the characters and give them more meat, so to speak. Plus the whole Jack-Ianto thing certainly had a lot of us in the LGBT community squealing and relieved that he wasn't seeming to be hitting on the already taken Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles).

The second season of Torchwood remains to be a nice continuation of the group's adventures and certainly a lot darker in tone compared to the first run. It gets 3.5 fan-pandering minutes of violent Masters-Barrowman kissing out of a possible 5.

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