Yesterday I talked about art, about which I know precious little (specifically a very cool ‘graffiti art film’ called Exit Through The Gift Shop) and today I’d like to discuss a TV genre I know even less about. Like zero. But I am trying to learn. Plus, with summer TV tending toward the “lackluster” side of things, when I see something that looks dramatic – even sci-fi dramatic – I’m inclined to tune in. Which I did.
I watched a few episodes of Torchwood. On Starz – a network a) I had never watched, and b) I didn’t actually know I had. But I do. And before watching I read up a bit on Torchwood because I was confused – so here goes. Viewers probably already know that the show was originally a spinoff of Doctor Who (and apparently the title itself is an anagram). When first broadcast on the BBC, it was a sleeper hit and each year became increasingly popular (and cult-y)until such time as we Americans had to do what we do best: shoot an American version so we could then show the world. It seemed to work with The Office.
They kept some of the original UK cast – but not all of it. And then added some Yanks to the mix. Like Mekhi Phifer, Alexa Havins, and one of those actors who always, quietly, makes what he’s in just a little bit better: Bill Pullman. But for die-hard BBC fans the show’s draw is star John Barrowman, a chiseled hunk and facialspawn of Tom Cruise and Mark Harmon. In fact, so impressive is he to look at that you don’t seem to mind his questionable long wool duster jacket clearly borrowed from Duran Duran during their Sgt. Pepper phase. Also present (from the original) is Eve Miles, a plucky and mysterious Welsh secret agent quickly separated from her husband and child and forced to perform all manner of chemistry experiments aboard an airplane. Pretty sure she’s a fan fave as well.
The episodes I saw were intriguing but I am guessing that original BBC audiences will not like the brash American cast (with the exception of Pullman and it’s too early to know how/where he’ll fit in, although we can assume he’ll be a major player). The original series is shot in Wales, and this one is shot in both Wales and Los Angeles. Basically all you need know if you come to it late (and I’m not spoiling anything) is that Torchwood is a British “Institute” that specializes in paranormal things (you know, that plan to annihilate the earth/ravage mankind/wreak havoc on societies, etc.). Then the Torchwood people have to stop these external forces – before it’s too late. Natch. Are you a fan of the show? Did you like the original?
As someone who knows not one whit about sci-fi TV, I can say that the premise of Torchwood is genuinely interesting, although that’s coming from me – the show may not have enough American or UK oomph to satisfy our fickle countrymen. In fact, because I’m such a sci-fi novice, for today’s poll I will toss out some other sci-fi shows for your consideration. By the way, if anyone has any recommendations about where to start – or what’s best – in the sci-fi realm, by all means please let me know.
1) Battlestar Galactica
4) X Files