A Torchwood Primer

STARZ promotional image for TORCHWOOD

The Torchwood Institute is coming to the United States.  Beginning on Friday July 8 at 10pm, the new series Torchwood: Miracle Day begins on the STARZ network.   But maybe you are not familiar with Torchwood.   If you aren’t, let’s take a moment to look back.

If you are a fan of the British Television sensation Doctor Who, you’re probably already be familiar with the secretive group, but unless you have already seen any of the 31 episodes that aired on various BBC networks (the show first premiered on BBC3, and moved to BBC2, before the show’s most recent r part miniseries outing “Children of Earth” aired in 5 consecutive nights in 2009 on BBC1) Then you might not know the whole story about the UK’s first line of defense against the future.    Outside the government, beyond the police, above the United Nations, Torchwood is preparing humanity for what’s to come, when everything changes.

In Doctor Who, the Torchwood Institute got its start in 1879 in Scotland, by Queen Victoria herself, after her experiences with the man only know as the Doctor and an apparent attack on the throne by an alien source.  The purpose of the Institute, as per its charter, is to defend the British Empire, and by extension the Earth from alien threats.   (Which Queen Victoria decided included the Doctor.)  Torchwood went on to be a major part of the Second season finale of Doctor Who in 2007, where it’s discovered that they had been gathering and reverse engineering all sorts of extra terrestrial tech for the glory of the British Empire.

Torchwood (the word is an anagram for Doctor Who) was spun off into its own series in the fall of 2007.  Set in modern Cardiff, Wales (the same city where it and Doctor Who is filmed), and aimed for a more mature audience than its parent series.  The Torchwood team is led by Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) a 51st century former Time Agent.   Harkness first appeared in the Season 1 episode of Doctor Who “The Empty Child” and went on to be a big part of that first season’s final arc.   Due to the events of “Parting of the Ways” Jack has been bestowed a certain type of immortality.  He doesn’t age, and any damaged done to his body is undone, due to his body becoming a “fixed point” in time.   Harkness is a lover (of all) and a fighter (of evil) His sense of adventure is only matched by his voracious omnivorous sexual appetite.

Eve Myles (L) and John Barrowman

The rest of Torchwood is made up of slightly more mundane people.  His second in command is Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles), former Police Constable whose more down to earth sensibility and compassion serve as the team’s heart.  The cynical Dr. Owen Harper (Burn Gorman) serves as Torchwood’s medical officer and Toshiko Sato (Naoko Mori) is the resident technical expert.  Rounding out the original team is guy Friday, Into Jones (Gareth David-Lloyd).

Over three seasons, the team met with several tragedies that led to the deaths of Owen, Tosh, (during season 2) and Ianto (in season 3).  At the end of Season 3, the team no longer exists, and Jack leaves the world and all the bad memories behind.

Torchwood: Miracle Day starts a new chapter in the story.   Something happens, and people in the world stop dying. All people, even those terminally injured are somehow surviving death, no matter how badly they are hurt.  The CIA gets involved, which leads them to find Gwen and Jack.    The new series is a continuation of the show, and not a reboot. (As previously rumored when it was in development at Fox) It takes place in both Los Angeles and Cardiff.  Mekhi Phifer will portray Rex Matheson, a CIA hotshot that will have to team up with Torchwood to find out what is going on.  Bill Pullman plays Oswald Danes,a convicted murderer who survives his execution because of the Miracle Day.    Besides Jack and Gwen, other returning faces include Gwen’s husband Rhys (Kai Owen), and Gwen’s former police partner PC Andy (Tom Price).  No word if the new series will acknowledge any of its Doctor Who related history.

All three previous series aired on BBC America, where Children of Earth set viewing records for the channel (Until the channel gained the first American broadcast rights to Doctor Who from Syfy.)

Torchwood: Miracle Day  is created Russell T Davies and executive produced by  Russell T Davies  and Julie Gardner.  Writers for the series have been confirmed as Russell T Davies, John Shiban, Doris Egan, Jane Espenson and John Fay

About David Vandervliet

Once, King of all these lands, but now I am just an aging nerd. I enjoy talking about my favorite things to geek about, and hopefully I say something to make you think a little too. My favorite things include: Comics, Doctor Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, Science, Astronomy, Math, Music, theatre, movies, writing, baseball, college football (Go Blue!)
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  1. Pingback: Miracle Day has arrived. « EXILED IN GEEKSVILLE

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