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“…separate from the Government – outside the Police – beyond the United Nations.”
Torchwood Season 1 Episode 1.
“Torchwood. Outside the government, beyond the police. Tracking down alien life on earth and arming the human race against the future. The 21st century is when everything changes, and you’ve got to be ready.”
Season 1 voiceover introduction to episodes.
With the first episode of Season 2, the voiceover explaining the premise of Torchwood is notable by its absence. One of the criticisms I had of Season 1 was there was a lack of Worldbuilding – at least for the first half of the Season. The varying tone of the first six episodes was a hindrance to creating a cohesive world, and the fact it was aliens one week; supernatural beings the next didn’t help either. Suspension of disbelief was also not helped by Torchwood confusingly interacting with the Government (on the phone to the Prime Minister), the Police (frequently) and the United Nations (in the form of UNIT.) Also, the fact they appeared to be the least-secret secret organisation in the world didn’t help, as outside-world knowledge of Torchwood seemed to vary from episode to episode.
This problem with Season 1 is acknowledged with an amusing line from a senior citizen in the first few minutes: “Bloody Torchwood!” This utterance, combined with Torchwood shown interacting with the Police in a clearly defined way, at the crime scene soon after, seemed to be an attempt to tidy up the premise of the show, while also saying to fans “Okay. They are not that independent or secret really. Relax. Enjoy the show!”
Other Worldbuilding this episode: Time Agent Captain Jack meets new character Time Agent Captain John and it seems from this that we have an exploration of the Time Agency aspect of Jack’s mysterious past coming up this Season.
The character of Captain John is fun, and the episode barrels along, but any enjoyment derived from this colourful story redefining Torchwood for 2008 is lessened by the ridiculous series of MacGuffins (canisters and a “diamond”) instead of an actual plot – and the rift (and writer) pressing the re-set button on the episode’s events at the end for no apparent reason.