Thursday, September 06, 2007

Torchwood: Adult vs. mature

Today's column looks at the upcoming debut of the sexualized "Doctor Who" spin-off "Torchwood," which I found really disappointing:
What defines a work of entertainment as adult? Is it just about the content -- the type of language used, the level of sex and violence -- or something deeper?

Not to get all philosophical here, but I ask because I've just finished watching the first four episodes of "Torchwood" (Saturday at 9 p.m. on BBC America), the so-called "adult" spin-off of the new "Doctor Who" series, and I'm having a hard time figuring out why the new show gets tagged with the mature label and the original doesn't.

To read the full thing, click here.

17 comments:

Wallwriting said...

Good points on the show. It really seems more like the exercise in an idea of a show than a completed show, and this is not the Captain Jack Harkness of Doctor Who. That Captain Jack was carefree and charming. This one looks like a guy who's enjoying himself too much to convincingly play the brooding anti-hero.

It's less than TV for adults. It's juvenile TV that mistakes curse words for being grown up.

And on the topic of Doctor Who, any thoughts on the BBC essentially putting the show on a one-year hiatus after the fourth season? All this, apparently, to keep Tenant (and possibly Davies) around a little while longer.

Eric said...

All I can say is try to stick with it. Like all 3 seasons of RTD's Doctor Who, it picks up in the second half, and there begin to be real consequences and effects of Torchwood's adolescent behavior.

In fact, Torchwood's main problem I think, is that they're all ultimately anti-heroes at best, including Gwen and Jack.

Dark Tyler said...

Amen, Alan. I thought that "Torchwood" made the same mistakes that early "Angel" did, trying too hard to differentiate itself from the mother series, and doing so using the "X-Files" formula. Nah. "Angel" dropped the pretentiousness pretty quickly, while this show never does.

Re: the "Who" hiatus, while BBC essentially renewed the show through 2010, I feel kinda bummed. I hoped that both Tennant and Davies would leave the show after series 4, but now the BBC is going out of it's way to keep them around. So, instead of having a full-time, all-new show in 2009, we'll be treated with less (3 specials) of the same old.

Still... renewed through 2010... that's 3 years ahead! Must be unprecedented, right?

Jim Treacher said...

Not to get to nerdy, but maybe his personality has to do with his immortality and living through the 20th Century. Dying and coming back to life over and over again might make a person a bit moody.

Wallwriting said...

eric - I should have specified that my comments were based on having seen all but the last episode of the season. For legal reasons, I won't say how I saw them.

jim - I assumed the same thing you did regarding why the character is darker now. It's not that I mind character shifts, but I mind it when the new character doesn't fit the actor. If you've ever seen him in interviews, Barrowman is not acting when he plays the Captain Jack from Doctor Who. He's an all-smiles, charming-as-hell, flirts-with-anything kinda guy (he claims he's gay, but he flirts the pants off any female interviewer he meets). He just can't play dark and brooding very well.

Toby said...

Having the chance to see 'Torchwood' and the rest of this 'Doctor Who' season already, I hope it does lead to a serious reboot of the 'Torchwood' concept for season two. A lot of that has to do with the nature of Jack's personality change and that looks likely to get lightened up.

But as I watched the 'Torchwood' episodes, it kept coming back to thinking about how certain phrases, situations, images were obviously just tossed in so RTD could say - "ooh, we're adult!" And then when I reconsidered those scenes without that content - because that's probably what has to happen over here with our draconian FCC rules - I realized those scenes would have worked even better without the added flair.

There are some good episodes, but overall it was a serious misfire. They've been given a reprieve with a second season, let's hope they don't blow it. (not tossed in there just make this adult content!)

Dennis said...

I'm of course happy to hear that there will be new Who through 2010. However, my feelings are more mixed about the fact that there's going to be a gap year in order to retain David Tennant and Russell Davies.

I like both of these men and continue to appreciate their contributions to Dr Who, but it seems to me that this new development, the gap year, indicates that the BBC now considers both Tennant and RTD irreplaceable, and that does not bode well for the show's future.

Imagine if, back in 1980 the Beeb decided that Tom Baker couldn't be replaced.

Presumably RTD and Tennant are going to want to move on at some point, and I'd hate to think that conventional wisdom would now dictate the show's demise with their departure.

Until now, Dr Who has always been actor-proof and writer-proof, bigger than any individual artist. I'd hate to think it's no longer considered that by the BBC. Part of the show's appeal is the thrill of the reboot every time a new actor or producer takes over.

Anthony Foglia said...

Seems this parody is dead-on then:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OlboOGbM94c

David J. Loehr said...

Having seen enough of the first season, it seems as if the most clever part of the whole thing is the title-as-anagram. Beyond that, it really did nothing for me but make me long for other, better shows.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see that after all the good buzz and press on this series that I wasn't the only one left cold. I made it through 8 episodes out of loyalty to Harrowman and Davies before I threw in the towel. The plots, characters, and dialogue are very weak, but the worst part of it for me was the acting. Just very, very, bad across the board, even Harrowman, who's essentially playing a different (read: much less entertaining) guy. I can usually forgive weak plots if the characters and dialogue are snappy and engaging (and vice-versa), but this just had no redeeming qualities for me.
-Lance

Nicole said...

I have to agree with Eric in that Torchwood really does hit its best points in the last few episodes of the season. There were some garbage episodes in the beginning, but the final redeem the rocky start, somewhat. And with Martha scheduled to appear, I think that will make a great difference. Maybe the DW Doctor Jack will return to with her to Torchwood.

J said...

Okay: If it gets tolerable, when does it do so? Give me an episode number. Because the first two had me contemplating sharp things.

Also, Barrowman is really not a good actor. He's Only-American-Actor-in-a-Low-Budget-Italian-Horror-Movie bad.

Scott said...

It only gets worse from here. This show is like televised fan-fiction.

Dark Tyler said...

Well, I kinda enjoyed the episode where Captain Jack goes back in time with Gwen in WWII era. Other than that, bleh. The only thing that got me excited in the finale (I saw this before "Who" season 3) was the final scene which excited me for what would take place over on mother series. (And then they blew that one, too. LOL)

But anyway, the prospect of seeing Freema Agyeman getting it on on this, ahem, mature series is enough to get me to come back. Plus, James Marsters? That's way too much hotness all around to be left unnoticed. So, I'll be watching Series 2 as well, I'm afraid. What can I say, I'm shallow. :P

Dark Tyler said...

J, now I can't stop thinking the prospect of John Barrowman starring in a Dario Argento movie.

Oh, man.

J said...

now I can't stop thinking the prospect of John Barrowman starring in a Dario Argento movie

Well, at least he'll be lit really well.

Wallwriting said...

Dark Tyler -- holy shit! How could I have forgotten about that episode. The ep's title is "Captain Jack Harkness," (if I recall correctly). And without spoiling it, I have to say it's one of the best love stories I've seen on TV. Now that is an example of a mature story for grown ups to enjoy.I have to admit that if the creative team is capable of an episode like this (one that rivals anything the first three seasons of Doctor Who cranked out), then maybe this show deserves a shot at a second season.

Unfortunately, it still doesn't save the first season, and it doesn't change the fact that almost everywhere else, any grown up issues are explored with the shallowness of a chatting teenagers.