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Torchwood: Children of Earth: Day One (U.S.)

by Mike Moody, posted Jul 21st 2009 11:39AM

Captain Jack is back, and Torchwood is facing its biggest threat yet: An alien assault on the world's children.

The first hour of Children of Earth was a great set-up for what promises to be an epic story for the Doctor Who spinoff. The epic feel, with the helicopter shots and the grandiose music, surprisingly suits Torchwood, a show known for its balance of intimate character moments and goofy B-movie tropes. The camaraderie between the characters is still there, and so is the goofiness, as evidenced by the fun early scene with Jack and Ianto extracting the "hitchhiker" from their "neighbor."

The main plot --- with the children stopping and screaming (creepy) and then chanting a warning (creepier) to the people of Earth – didn't overwhelm hour one. The real meat here was in the surprising character revelations. I like that the impending alien invasion gave our trio a reason to reflect on their roots and ponder their future. Ianto, Gwen and Jack had some great moments away from Torchwood central.

Let's start with the big surprise: Gwen is pregnant! I knew this was going to happen sometime, but I didn't see it coming in the first hour. I loved Gwen's shift from shock and disbelief to joy and anticipation. It was such a relief to see that she was happy about the baby, even while the world seems to be falling apart.

Ianto and Jack's relationship felt a bit awkward at first, but I appreciated it more once Ianto was away from Jack and able to talk about him with his sister. Finally, Ianto seems to be full of life and responsibility instead of being stuck in a corner. I'm not sure if this relationship is the best idea for Torchwood overall, but I like the way Ianto is developing because of his involvement with Jack.

Jacks' reveal was actually the most shocking for me. A trip to his daughter's (!) home reminded us about his unique but sometimes sad situation. It's hard to know what to make of Jack sometimes. He seems capable of great love and emotion, but he's also a steely tactician. I almost wanted to slap him when he tried to nab his grandkid only to use him for research. This does not seem like a man who's ready for a big commitment.

There was a lot going on with civil servant John Frobisher (Peter Capaldi) reminding us that the government can never be trusted in the wake of an alien invasion. The other new characters were also given a lot of screen time. I really thought Dr. Patanjali was going to work out. Maybe Miss Habiba (Cush Jumbo) will take his place as the group's possible new recruit sometime later this week. (Torchwood is in need of a new computer genius.)

I loved our old friends Tosh and Owen, but I'm really enjoying the trio of Jack, Ianto and Gwen. I'm sure Torchwood will add some new recruits before the miniseries' ends, but everything feels a lot more intimate with only three leads.

The final act hooked me with a cliffhanger ending left me with tons of questions: Who do the mysterious people who "killed" Jack work for? Do they worship the alien threat? Are they the government's hit squad? And why does the government have a hit list with Jack's name on it? I'm looking forward to finding out the answers over the next four nights.

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The episode was impressive, but am I the only one being driven nuts by all the text promos on the screen? I've learned to live with the bug in the corner. But the bug now has a constant ad for Dr. Who on top of it. And even worse, the letterboxed image, with black above & below, now has WHITE TEXT at the bottom, in the black, telling you the name of the bloody show you're watching--and it DOESN'T EVER GO AWAY! And once in a while an even BIGGER ad for some other show explodes from the bottom right corner!! It's like watching a f*#%ing web page for an hour!

It was a distraction all the way through. It's making me seriously consider waiting a few weeks until I can get the DVD from Netflix. At least then I can watch the show as intended.

July 21 2009 at 9:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

As far as Jack's commitment phobia - can you blame him, considering that he is bound to keep burying everybody he loves? Whether it's his current lover or his daughter and grandson (who, for all we know, might be just the latest ones who aren't dead yet), it's completely understandable that, over a few hundred years of loss, he would grow somewhat distant (or at least get really good at pretending that he has). There's a very telling scene coming up in one of the future episodes, where Jack finds himself momentarily terrified and disturbed by the walls he himself has constructed - but we won't talk about that yet.

July 21 2009 at 3:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
L. Ame

Torchwood is facing its biggest threat yet: A global assault on America's children.

July 21 2009 at 3:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to L. Ame's comment

Thanks L. Ame!

July 21 2009 at 3:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


July 21 2009 at 2:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It was a great first episode to a definitely thrilling miniseries.

It was one adrenaline rush after another without compromising all the little character moments you pointed out.

When I saw this episode, I couldn't even comprehend the whole 456-children-alien whatever. So it was nice that this episode was grounded in providing us info about the character (Jack's daughter, Gwen's pregnancy, Ianto's family/insecurities about Jack). Very nicely done.

And those last 5 or so minutes? Holy hell. I'm going to seriously miss the Hub.

July 21 2009 at 1:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joe Siegler

rjbtrdx, I won't say how, but you'll be quite surprised at what they actually do with that.

July 21 2009 at 1:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I want to know what happens when Jack gets blown to bits. How are they going to get his beautiful body back together when he recovers ( cause you know he can't die )

July 21 2009 at 12:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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