When the BBC brought back longtime favorite Doctor Who a few years ago, they made some very smart changes. Instead of a serial format where stories extend over multiple half-hours, stories became self-contained one-hour episodes. Production values were upgraded from what can only be called laughable to something much more in tune with what modern viewers expect-- ie, CGI instead of rubber masks. The baggage of thirty years of mythology was largely pitched, with key elements slowly reintroduced for modern viewers. But fundamentally, Doctor Who remained a family program suitable for early evening viewing.

Enter Torchwood. If you live in the United States and don't get BBC America, you've been missing out on the best new science fiction series since Battlestar Galactica. Torchwood spins off both a guest character and its name from Doctor Who (the two titles are anagrams), but ventures into darker, sexier territory than the Tardis ever explored. I like to describe Torchwood as Britain's answer to The X-Files, but without the endlessly strung-out government conspiracy / alien invasion hoo-ha dragging it down.

An impressive feat, since Torchwood itself is a secret government conspiracy. It's an agency established by Queen Victoria who, upon meeting The Doctor, realized that aliens could pose a threat to the world (and by extension, Britain). Torchwood exists "outside government" (much like the Bush administration) to monitor alien threats, recover alien technology, and prepare humanity for the 21st century when, according to the show's intro, "everything changes." The Cardiff branch of Torchwood is led by Captain Jack Harkness, an openly bisexual man with a mysterious past who, thanks to some shenanigans in the first season of Doctor Who, cannot die. His support team includes medical officer Owen, computer specialist Tosh, and admin Ianto. Police officer Gwen joins up in episode one and becomes the viewer's point-of-view character.

Torchwood isn't as cerebral or philosophical as Battlestar Galactica, nor as juvenile as Doctor Who-- it's a more mature detective-adventure romp with sophisticated storylines and character development. Even the sophomoric premise of episode two-- alien sex-fiend possesses humans and anyone copulating with it dissolves into dust-- is treated with surprising style and depth.

The good news is, the complete first season of Torchwood has just been released on DVD, and season two begins on BBC America this week-- so now's the time to jump aboard and see what you've been missing.


Cool. I'd already heard good things, but it's always nice to add another thumbs up to the pile, especially from a solid source.

But, I gotta say, the world we live in now... well... *now* is the time to jump aboard? My cable system doesn't get BBC America, but I really don't need to. Much to the chagrin (I assume) of networks, almost anytime seems okay these days to jump, what with the options available to obtain and watch TV.

Which is how/why I've only *just* finished season one of Life on Mars (another rebroadcast on BBC America). I assume you've watched that, too. Man, pretty cool stuff. Even the episodes that miss a little are still pretty great. I'm about to watch season two - very excited, especially knowing it's the LAST season.

Damn, those Brits just do TV better. I mean, what a great idea: a one-hour drama, that, from the get, is only gonna be 16 episodes TOTAL. And then take two years/seasons to do it, giving yourself plenty of time to work on the scripts.


glad to hear the endorsement. i had actually already added it to my netflix queue from all the trailers i had been seeing for it in front of movies. advertising works.

If liked season one of Torchwood then you'll love season two. We've only seen the first episode (the second airs tonight) but its funnier, smarter, more involving and the plots are much more in keeping with the "feel" of Doctor Who. I won't give too much away, but Jack has changed since his second encounter with the Doctor, and it will interesting to see how Jack's fate plays out.

Check out my site ( for more Doctor Who/Torchwood news and rumours.

So, does anyone have these DVDs that they can loan me for a day or two? :)

The recent scripting of Dr Who has been pretty disappointing to me. They've made good choices of actors for the Doctor, but the plot holes have been so huge that even I can't suspend disbelief. I've found Torchwood more absorbing and coherent.

With Dr Who having become more adult over the years, it's been interesting to see them spin off The Sarah Jane Adventures as well. While being aimed at kids, it has more of the "feel" of old Dr Who to me and I've found it remarkably enjoyable. Probably creating the nightmares of a new generation.

I've been watching Torchwood all last season, and although it's pretty good, I don't want to jump up and down and say it's *great*. Why? I don't know... I can't quite put my finger on what it is. It's not bad, or I would have stopped watching by now, but... I don't know.

Regardless, if you like the darker side of Torchwood and get Showtime, check out Dexter. It and Heroes are my two favorite shows on TV right now. I'm itching for season 3 to get started.

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