A week of Torchwood

In my dream the other night, I was desperately trying to avoid myself so as not to cross my own timeline.

In other signs I’ve been watching too much Doctor Who and Torchwood, the voice in my head has developed such a strange mix of accents — mostly Welsh currently, but while the Ponds were on the TARDIS, Amy’s Scottish influence was definitely represented. I also want to name everyone Ianto. Girls and boys.

I’ve been a bit under the weather this week. While this is not great for things like morale and getting shit done, it is really excessively good if you’re trying to watch as many episodes of something as is humanly possible. This is the case with me and Torchwood. There were several days when I couldn’t seem to keep my head up or stay awake for very long, but when my eyes were open, they were glued to the screen.

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Evidence of Gwen Cooper’s overall badassery.

If you’re thinking about getting sick and aren’t currently watching something, I highly recommend Torchwood. WARNING: Your uncontrollable napping will feature aliens, gun fights and Captain Jack Harkness.

Mostly excited about the Doctor Who connection, I dove right into this show but quickly found myself liking it on its own merits. It’s the dark and cynical response to Doctor Who’s optimism and ongoing quest for a non-violent resolution. Captain Jack Harkness makes for a much grittier and more flawed hero. Despite his great admiration for The Doctor, the lines for this former grifter and sometimes mercenary are much fuzzier and tinted with gray.

While Captain Jack makes choices The Doctor never would, I find myself thinking, “well, he had no other choice,” but simultaneously believing that if only The Doctor had been there things would have worked out so much better overall. There are moments where I’m led to believe that’s what Captain Jack is thinking the whole time, too. His love for The Doctor is apparent throughout the series and his disappointment in himself when his choice between rock and hard place results in the loss of innocent life shows a depth beneath the sexual bravado we come to love from his appearances in Doctor Who.

The evolution of Gwen Cooper is brilliant as well. In the first episode, we see her as a dogged police constable unable to forget — even after being dosed with an amnesia drug — the fact that she’s seen an alien kill someone. Green as can be, she’s shown learning how to fire a handgun. (Love, by the way, the fact that police constables in the U.K. don’t necessarily know how to use a gun.) She’s often the conscience of Torchwood, in the same way The Doctor’s companions add a level of humanity and compassion to the TARDIS.

But by the beginning of the fourth season, we see a different Gwen. This is not terribly spoilery because there are a ton of bad-ass moments in this show, but Gwen’s development into rogue hero comes full circle when the woman who was once hesitant to fire a handgun takes out a helicopter filled with villains with some sort of rocket launcher. When asked “who the hell are you people?” she responds, with a slight smirk of pride, “‘Torchwood.”

It’s easy to make excuses for Jack and his team and their reliance on violence because, unlike The Doctor, they have to live in the world every day with time existing sequentially and dangerous creatures constantly wandering onto the planet through the rift in space and time. When The Doctor is unavailable because he and his companions are off saving other galaxies, species and universes through all of time and space, someone has to protect the Earth and that task falls to Torchwood. Their skill set might not allow them to do so as peacefully as The Doctor would (though he’s not always able to avert violence either), but you feel they do the best with what they have. And their cynicism becomes justified as they find themselves with far fewer opportunities to save lives and instead end up having to settle for simply saving the day.

I will probably finish season 4 tonight and then I plan to ease the sense of loss by turning to BBC Radio 4’s production of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. I’m really excited to hear a radio play. I’ve never read the novel or seen the original TV miniseries from the ’90s, but the plot of this story sounds thrilling and reminds me of my ongoing fascination with New York City’s Mole People. (If you don’t know about the Mole People, I highly recommend this book. It’s remarkable.)

Things I’m watching right now: Torchwood, Torchwood, Torchwood. I also noticed that season 3 of Archer is available on Netflix, so I’ll spend the next few nights catching up on the antics of ISIS while I fall asleep. So far, I’ve found myself simultaneously cringing and laughing through the first couple of episodes, so it’s living up to expectations. I also have a few episodes of Nikita and this week’s Supernatural to catch up on.

Things I’m reading right now: Deepak Chopra’s The Return of Merlin. My friend Jeff loaned me this book several years ago and I picked it up for my ongoing research into anything and everything Arthurian. I’m enjoying it as much as I did all those years ago.

Things I’m trying not to watch right now: I’m afraid I’m going to be lost without Doctor Who and Torchwood. Maybe Warehouse 13 or Caprica since I’m having such a nice time with Sci-Fi shows that Jane Espenson (Torchwood, Once Upon A Time, Buffy, Dollhouse, Battlestar Galactica ) has had a hand in.

Things I’m trying not to read right now: Things that are kitschy and romancey and end with happily ever afters. I’ve got a few of them beckoning me from the shelf.

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About Jodie Fletcher

When not obsessively consuming stories, I also find time to write and go outside. And take pictures of animals.
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