Torchwood: Children of Earth,
considered as a helix of semi-precious shows
God said to Abraham kill me a son
Abe said man, you must be putting me on
God said no — Abe said what?
God said you can do what you want Abe, but,
Next time you see me coming you better run.
Abe said where'd you want this killing done?
God said out on highway 61
— Bob Dylan
It was probably the simply embarassing post-script to the third Star Wars movie, Return of the Jedi, that first really made me realize the often inverse relationship between hype and reality. (And of course, this year's utter travesty of an end to the sometimes brilliant Battlestar Galactica to remind me that getting my hopes up is always risky business.)
While most of North America's children and geeks are making hits out of Star Trek and even more (god help us) out of Transformers: Something-or-other, Great Britain's BBC has provided us with something a little different. A five-hour "special event", a mini-series broadcast (in the UK) on Monday through Friday of the week of the 6th called Torchwood: Children of Earth (it's airing this coming week starting tomorrow on BBC America, but I haven't been able to pin down when it will show up in Canada). For once, the work actually lived up to the hype.
Truth to tell, until now Torchwood has been more of a guilty pleasure for me than anything else. A Doctor Who spin-off, Torchwood was, and was meant to be, a grittier, more "adult" version of the alien monster-battling children's show. The violence was more graphic, there was sex (male/female, female/female and male/male as well as "miscellaneous" — these people dealt with aliens, after all) along with near-nudity and swearing, including the F-word, at least during the first season.
By the end of the second season, four of the seven original members of the "team" had died violent deaths, leaving fans to wonder whether this year's edition would introduce new characters. As it turns out, long-time fans will have more grieving to do — but I'll say no more along those lines.