As with Doctor Who it took me a few episodes to get invested in Torchwood. To begin with I found it hard to connect to the characters, even Captain Jack Harkness whom I had seen on Doctor Who. However, somewhere around the sixth episode, Countrycide, I started to care about the characters and as a result got more interested in the stories as well.
Torchwood is a completely different show than I expected as I started watching it knowing it was a spinoff of Doctor Who. In my opinion the only thing connecting the two is that they both take place in the same world with a shared history, and that Jack has been a part of them both. That being said, Torchwood is in many ways the grown up version of Doctor Who. I have been told that Doctor Who is very much a family oriented show, and it rarely discusses things like alcohol and sex. Torchwood doesn’t shy away from these topics and also features same-sex relationships. It’s nice that you can have two different types of shows set in the same universe like this, and I think both of them have different things that make them fun to watch. I like the stories told in Doctor Who better, but there are more characters to invest yourself in on Torchwood.
I was surprised to find Jack to be so harsh and rash in his decisions, not granting mercy in the way the Doctor does. I’m glad he doesn’t, because it would be boring to just watch another version of the Doctor as the lead in this show. It took some time to get used to but in the end I really like that he is far from perfect in Torchwood, and the car scene between him and Gwen in ‘Immortal Sins’ where they both make it clear they will kill the other to survive despite the fact that they love each other is one of my favourites.
I like all the characters in their own way. I thought Owen was mostly just fun in the beginning, but he grew to become a lot more complex as we got to see more of his feelings surface. The same goes for Tosh, though I never felt quite the same connection to her. I was sad when they died in series 2, but I knew about it beforehand so I was prepared for it. Ianto was probably one of my favourites. He was not featured too much which made it interesting to try to figure him out. I liked his relationship with Jack, especially towards the end, and one of my favourite scenes of the show is when we see how they first met while chasing Weevils. I was so angry and sad when they killed him off. For one, it was only 4 episodes after killing off Owen and Tosh, but mostly it was because I felt so sad for Jack when it happened. It made for a great scene and a very sad end to an episode, but I did find it hard to continue watching after it happened.
Now only Jack and Gwen are left, and Rhys who I suppose it’s now appropriate to count as one of the original characters. I have mixed opinions about Gwen, but for the most part I like her, and I think Eve Myles does a good job. In some ways it was a mistake to kill off 60% of the original team, but it also brought a lot of new elements to the show. In the last series, Torchwood: Miracle Day, I was very sceptical when they moved the show to the US and brought in American actors. I love American television, but I don’t like it when they make a show about a Welsh agency move its practice to another continent.
The first two series are my favourites, because they feel the most like Torchwood. Children of Earth was good because it was very interesting to watch them struggle with the decision of whether or not to give away 10% of the world’s children and how to justify that. However, it was also a very big move away from the episode by episode plot it started out with. I’m a lot more torn about Miracle Day. As with Children of Earth, I thought it was interesting to have the premise of the series be that the dead didn’t die, but it was once again an entire series only focused on one problem, and it didn’t involve any alien presence, which has been what I’ve come to expect from Torchwood. All in all, I liked the conclusion and episodes such as ‘Immortal Sins’ were great to watch. I thought the torture scene when Jack is killed over and over was one of the most horrible scenes of the show, while at the same time both heart-breaking and sad. It was nice that the last series made Jack mortal again. It let John Barrowman play some new sides to his character and brought to the front a lot more of his deeper issues that he spends a lot of time covering up.
All in all, what I like most about Torchwood is the humour, the emotions that drive the characters and the relationship between Gwen and Jack. I like that they did it much like how they did with Amy and the Doctor, keeping them friends despite some hints to a deeper love for each other at the start. It’s interesting to have Jack be a character with so much unknown past, and I really like that they haven’t yet explained the big questions like where he’s from, what his real name is etc. It would take away from his character. I’m fine with, and prefer, his offhand comments about what his previous boyfriends were known for and the fact that the best way to seduce him is to compliment his coat. It makes it more interesting to watch because you never know what will pop up about his past in the future and makes it easier to maintain a suspension of disbelief.