“The most dangerous thing about Torchwood is Torchwood”

Well it’s two episodes in and what do I think?

I’ve enjoyed Torchwood inside, but am not sure whether this is me being a fan of Doctor Who, Russell T Davies or this sort of thing, or whether it is genuinely any good. What does strike me is how silly many of the criticisms are.

Torchwood is a different programme to Doctor Who. It is unashamedly niche, post watershed sci-fi. Where pre-watershed the swearwords would be edited out and replaced with “Flippin Hell” and the like, it doesn’t happen with torchwood. Many have said the swearing was shoe horned in, but I would say I barely noticed it.

There has been a fuss from parents who have “suddenly” learned (despite it being made clear way back that this would be niche and post watershed), that it’s unsuitable for their children, and grumbling that they’re having to tell their who mad offspring that they’re not allowed to watch it. These are the sort of parents who want others to say “no” so they don’t have to.
The BBC aren’t telling parents what to do either, they’re clearly letting them know what it is and letting them decide, however this didn’t stop some loon at the Express going on about how the BBC was encouraging parents to let kids watch sex and violence. [1]
Torchwood in this respect is the show for the people who’ve grown up with Who and then complain the new programmes aim too much at the kiddies. It’s not more Doctor Who to fill the gap between seasons.

Likewise there has been a great fuss over the fact that Torchwood employees are not angelic cartoon heroes, but actually a bit dodgy. Torchwood blatantly don’t care about the world beyond their narrow clean up and cannibalise role, they’re not even as goody too shoed as The Doctor. Sato is quite uncaring and amoral, valuing the challenge above anything, and Owen, according to some interpretations, nearly commits date rape in episode 1 and is shown to have a violent streak in episode 3. Ianto seems to be a human sonic screwdriver, there to deliver witty lines, but also to explain why they’re not spending two thirds of every episode doing boring stuff. Jack is a driven man, the Doctor and Rose’s good influence is wearing thin, and the obvious façade is cracking. He doesn’t care that his team are dishonest, so long as they obey the ground rules and the job gets done.

So yes they’re dodgy characters, but thing is so what, this is post watershed, they don’t have to be role models for the kids. The rules don’t apply and if they did there is no rule that says the central characters of Sci Fi must be whiter than white. It is signposted that this is a dangerous crowd Gwen is getting involved with, so these actions are not condoning or endorsing any form of immoral behaviour. The question is: Is she going to be their moral compass or become as corrupt as they are?

The Jury is out over Torchwood in my house, however if I do criticise it, it will be over what it is, not how it fails to be what it’s not supposed to be.

[1] Thanks to nutterwatch

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