So last night was a big night for UK science fiction fans or geeks like me. The launch of Torchwood – the spin off of Doctor Who from the same BBC Wales production team.
Has to be said yes, I enjoyed it but it didn’t pull me in quite like Doctor Who did.
The main problem is the barrier between Torchwood & the viewer. In ‘Rose’, episode one of Doctor Who there’s a positive feeling. The Doctor invites, and wants, Rose (i.e. you the viewer) on his journey – the adventure of a lifetime. There’s a sense of wonder that continues into the amazing visuals of episode 2.
In Torchwood Captain Jack initially doesn’t want Eve on the adventure. So much so he gives her a memory-wiping drug. Hardly an invitation for the viewer. The other problem is it’s a story that’s been done before. Episode one of Torchwood was basically a scaled down and darker version of Men In Black. While episode two covers ground done many times by other SF shows – the alien that needs sex to live.
Torchwood will also draw comparison to Deep Space Nine. The Doctor uses his TARDIS to travel to adventure. Torchwood is routed in Cardiff and as such the adventure has to come to them. Deep Space Nine solved this by having a wonderful array of supporting characters. They were all beautifully constructed and fleshed out. They all had story arcs and over the seven years truly developed and all had personal journeys – even ones with little screen time like Rom and Morn.
So far Torchwood’s supporting cast consists of nothing but regulars who all seem slightly 2D.
It is, however, only episode two and it shows infinitely more promise that the dreary Robin Hood.