Torchwood's Jack Harkness

Continuing my coverage of my recent obsession with BBC America, I’m going to talk about a show I’m relatively new to, and only picked up because of a recent critically acclaimed mini-series originally meant to be the show’s third season, Torchwood.

Torchwood is a Doctor Who spin-off surrounding Jack Harkness and his Torchwood team, who investigate extraterrestrial incidents on Earth and scavenges the alien technology for its own use.  They’re separate from the government, outside the police, and beyond the United Nations.

Unlike Doctor Who, which is more of a family-friendly science fiction show, Torchwood is an edgy, violent, very sexual show that pushes the boundaries of television unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.

More after the jump, including a chance to get some free Torchwood of your own!

Torchwood: Children of Earth was originally intended to be the third series of Torchwood but, as a way of doing something special to draw in new viewers, rather than air the typical thirteen episodes of Torchwood-y goodness, they did a five-part miniseries, which aired last week on BBC America and can still be found on DVD at your local Best Buy or on for a pretty affordable price.

As I mentioned before, I didn’t get into Torchwood until the recent season three mini series.  As a spin-off of Doctor Who, I was unsure that I’d be able to get into Torchwood.  After all, I’ve never seen an episode of Doctor Who and it’s about eleven seasons in – it’s very intimidating to try to get into a show that’s been around for so long.  And spinning out of that with its own mythology, it seemed like trying to get into this show after not even seeing the show it came from would be impossible.  Of course, then again, I didn’t see an episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer until Angel started.  Still, I didn’t turn on Torchwood until last week.

The cast of Torchwood: Children of Earth

What helped me out was that, right before the premiere episode of Children of Earth, BBC America aired a program entitled Torchwood Declassified, an hour-long special that summarized the first two seasons of the show perfectly.  The program was so effective that when it showed the death of two main cast members, even though I had only known them for forty-five minutes, it was a very heartbreaking and tragic scene.  My wife even cried!  She also got a kick when they showed Buffy’s James Marsters guest appearance, which involved a make-out session with lead character Jack Harkness (John Barrowman).

Which is one of the stand-out aspects of Torchwood: its forward thinking.  Harkness is called, by both cast and crew, an “omni-sexual.”  He’s an immortal man who happens to also be bisexual – his charisma is apparently so strong that even straight men are attracted to him.  It’s unusual seeing a show so forward in its thinking – the romance in the show isn’t limited to man-woman relationships.  Both gay and straight relationships are showing in a very honest, very non-shock value way.  It’s refreshing to see a show so forward in its thinking, and such honest human relationships in a science fiction program.

Great acting, great writing, and a perfect jumping on point for new viewers?  Torchwood: Children of Earth is just about the best type of science fiction that TV has to offer – heart breaking and emotional, smart and scary, and a joy to watch.

And…maybe you want to see it?  I think you just might!  Especially if you want it…FOR FREE!  Anyone who leaves a comment on this post will be randomly entered into a drawing to win a DVD edition of Torchwood: Children of Earth!  Just a quick note on rules – winners must be within the continental United States and will be chosen at random.  Contest ends Wednesday, August 12th @ 5pm EST.

Next up on my BBC America Obsession…ROBIN HOOD!

The BBC's Robin Hood!

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