Torchwood: Children of Earth

I know that I’ve been dismissive of Torchwood (the Doctor Who spinoff) in the past. But the current five-episode story Children of Earth has changed my mind. Last night’s episode (number 4) was simply stunning. Not because of special effects or action sequences, but because of the writing and playing of one scene in particular. The scene of the British Prime Minister and his cabinet discussing how to justify to themselves and the country the method of choosing the 10% of British children who are to be sacrificed to the aliens was chilling and horribly real. There was other good stuff as well; Simon Brew’s review over at Den of Geek spells it out (warning: spoilers).
 
This was very good TV, I only hope that tonight’s finale won’t let us down.
 
Update: well, the finale was pretty good; perhaps not quite as good as episode 4, but certainly streets ahead of most of the dross on TV. There was some class writing from Russell T. Davies brought to almost unbearable life by excellent actors. For me, the highlights of the whole series were the scene in the Cabinet Room of episode 4 (mentioned above), and the scene in episode 5 of Frobisher going to kill his children, his wife and himself being intercut with the monologue from his loyal secretary to Lois about how Frobisher was "a good man". RTD knows how to push my emotional buttons, and he comes up with some audacious ideas (e.g. the aliens are hooked on the secretions of living human children).
 
Yes, the destruction of the aliens was pretty pat, but RTD used it to pose one more moral dilemma – is the death of one child to save humanity worth the price? – and to send Captain Jack off with a huge burden of guilt; it was his grandchild who was sacrificed, and Captain Jack himself pushed the button.
 
I think what brought me round to liking Torchwood in this series was that this story was never really about aliens, it was about the real monsters: us, and what we are prepared to do in the name of drivers such as love, politics, religion or just simple expediency. Great TV. Here’s the review of episode 5 in The Guardian. I was struck by one of the comments where someone favourably compared RTD with the late, great, Dennis Potter. You know, there’s something in that, I think.

About Geoff Coupe

I'm a British citizen, although I have lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1983. I came here on a three year assignment, but fell in love with the country, and one Dutchman in particular, and so have stayed here ever since. On the 13th December 2006 I also became a Dutch citizen.
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8 Responses to Torchwood: Children of Earth

  1. Bal says:

    MMMMmmmm …. one asks herself ‘is Geoff having a ballet moment over a certain lead?’ lol ;-)

  2. Brian says:

    I put it all on Tivo and am about to start episode 4 now. Gripping stuff this! And trying to get Rhys to go down the shops so Jack and Ianto can have a snog was very charming!

  3. Brian says:

    My stars and garters, that was not a happy ending, was it?

  4. Geoff says:

    No, not a happy ending, but probably all the more like real life because of it. I’m relieved that RTD didn’t take the easy deus-ex-machina way out and restore Ianto back into the arms of Jack.It’s now questionable, of course, whether Torchwood can continue, with everyone except Gwen dead or exeunt via a passing space freighter – that’s also a brave point to leave it. We shall see. I did like that fact that Gwen was left very obviously pregnant with new life. Perhaps that’s a sign.Bal Maiden – "having a moment"? No, not really – I like Jack the character, but I know that he’s mad, bad, and dangerous to know. JB the actor is a consumate professional and easy on the eye, but that’s all as far as I’m concerned…

  5. Geoff says:

    Oh, and I thought that episode 4 was still the strongest, although the sequence intercutting between Frobisher about to kill his wife and children, and his secretary explaining to Lois why he was a good man was exceptionally powerful. I was bawling my head off.

  6. Geoff says:

    PPS, and the idea of the aliens "shooting up on our children" was RTD at his audacious best…

  7. Brian says:

    agreed Geoff, the murder/suicide scene was appallingly sad and very well done. I’m going to keep this one. And they’ll find a way to time warp Ianto back, watch this space.

  8. Pingback: Storms In Teacups | Geoff Coupe's Blog

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