Torchwood – Children Of Earth, Day 1

Torchwood - Children Of Earth poster

If you had any doubts about how a five-part mini [[Torchwood (TV Series)|Torchwood]] series would work out, then the first episode of Torchwood: Children Of Earth should have soothed those fears.

I’ll confess, I went into this episode expecting a train wreck. The ‘Children of Earth’ concept bugged me slightly – hoardes of brats around the world suddenly frozen and chanting the words of their alien overlords. Hmmm, wasn’t it the old [[Doctor Who (TV Series)|Doctor Who]] special, The Christmas Invasion, where aliens remote controlled a subset of the human population? Forgive me for seeing a slightly recycled concept here.

Warning: Spoilers from this point forward…

Day 1 of Children Of Earth saw much better plot lines: the developing relationship between [[Ianto Jones|Ianto]] and [[Captain Jack Harkness|Jack]], and a long-overdue look into both of their private lives. We discover that Jack has an estranged daughter and grandson living in Cardiff, and Ianto has family he sees very little of as well. This fulfils one of Den Of Geek’s Children Of Earth wishlist points.

It’s unlikely that they’d introduce this array of new characters for such brief scenes, so I’m expecting the relatives to pop up again over the next few days. I took a shine to the rough Cardiff estate-dwellers that Ianto is related to – nearly choked when his sister asked “‘ave you gone bender?”

Before long, we realise that some shady agency is watching events in the Home Office, but it comes as a complete surprise when Torchwood itself is infiltrated. As a grizzled sci-fi viewer, it’s difficult to be shocked these days, but I was not expecting the seemingly innocent doctor to shoot Jack. Actually, quite clever having Jack shot by a doctor, considering Who he sometimes hangs out with…

Jack gets an unwanted object dropped into his stomach while unconscious, and unwittingly takes it back to Torchwood. Luckily, Gwen seems to be giving herself some kind of hi-tech untrasound, having been told by an alien abductee that she’s knocked up. He smelt it, you see. As you do.

Anyway, back to Jack’s belly, and it appears to be a ticking time-bomb. He evacuates Ianto and Gwen and then – judging from the special effects – redecorates the walls ot Torchwood with his intestines. (I predict that only his head remains, and that Ianto will have to find the newly born Face Of Boe a vase or bucket to live in until they can get a decent-sized fishbowl from Pets At Home.)

Without rehashing the plot – they’re trying to keep spoilers to a minimum for the American audience – this first episode took Torchwood to entirely new levels of drama. It was tightly written, incredibly tense and the writers managed to juggle several developing plotlines excellently. Killing Cap’n Jack three times in one episode? Brilliant. Is Torchwood destroyed? Dunno, but it immediately throws the team to the winds for the remaining episodes.

A normal episode of Torchwood brings up a single issue or storyline. This five-parter, episode per night concept gives the story room to breathe, and space for the writers to play with the audience. Better still, the Torchwood team is already depleted from the end of series 2, and with Jack in mortal peril, Gwen knocked up and Ianto…out of the closet, they guys seem to be on the back foot. And someone knows of Jack’s immortality…how did that leak out?

While the episode was airing, I was watching the buzz on Twitter – it was unanimously positive. Anyone else see the episode? What’s your verdict?

Other reviews for Torchwood Series 3

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  1. Anonymous

    The episode was unquestionably good, and it looks like were in for a nice ride. Though I really hope that it gets enough people to tune in to garner a 4th season.


  2. McLaughlin

    When you did a post about the last Terminator movie, I read it and was bummed becuase I knew the ending to the movie. So this is a comment about a post I didn’t read? Actually, just wanted to thank you for bringing this to my attention, I like Torchwood (and Doc Who) but I did not know that this had been aired. Thanks, will give it a looksie.

    1. Gerard McGarry

      Actually, Richard, before the Terminator Salvation review, I’d never considered spoiler warnings – I just assumed that people looking for a review have either seen it and want to read/share opinions or they missed it and want to get up to speed.

      I consider the spoiler warnings an improvement brought about by you, so thanks for raising the issue in the first place!

  3. mitchie

    i am a big fan of torchwood! i have all the DVDs. I just watched the first ep on TV. it just aired in australia half an hour ago. It was awesome!!i liked the jack/ianto storyline. O.M.G! jack has a daughter and grandson! wow. for the people that havent watched it yet you must! cya!


    love doctor who!!


  4. Anonymous

    always loved the character of capt jack but this whole plot so far has me rooted, was gobsmacked when his daughter got revealed.  Loved Gwen in tonights episode just hoping the pregnancy doesnt make her go soft

  5. Anonymous

    Been totally stunning so far. As you correctly pointed out, the writing has been tight, well-plotted (mostly) and dynamically kinetic all the way through. Each minute seems to ratchet up the tension. For a newbie to the Torchwood series it makes exciting viewing – for a seasoned fan with knowledge of the background to the characters and the series, doubly more so! I’ve just seen the second installment and it was as good as the first, so I’m really hoping that the quality of the script is maintained for the next three episodes.

    In terms of an out-and-out action drama, I think it’s Russel T Davis’s best work yet. Given that he’s produced scripts for Dr Who, that’s high praise indeed!

  6. McLaughlin

    Well worth watching. Since I am not in the UK I don’t get to watch it live, but I was really satisfied with the show. The explosion at the end will either leave us with the living head, and replace Jack on the show, or somehow put in the ability to re-grow a body. Looking forward to last nights episode which I will watch tonight (if I have my way) or save the remaining 5 for the weekend (if I listen to my partner).

  7. Mark Savage

    Wow, this is stunning stuff!  Even without the back story, this is great drama of the first order- well done BBC Wales.  Great special effects, plenty of plot twists, but none too labyrythine that you can’t keep up (something the previous two series of Torchwood sometimes fell down on).

    The new arrivals- I won’t name them here for those that haven’t seen it- and events in the corridors of power had some genuinely scary moments, and I just can’t wait for episodes 4 and 5.  I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about Torchwood being stripped over five nights. It might not suit everybody’s social schedule, but thank heavens for PVR’s! We watched last night’s episode 2 and tonight’s episode back to back, and it worked all the better for that- but would have been just as good if viewed nightly.

    Ok, as might be expected, there are a few anomales and silly errors, and probably a few holes in the plot- does it never occur to any of the mobile phone users that they might be bugged by their ‘enemies’. And can’t Russell T learn that the name of this country is either “The United Kingdom” or “Britain”. Not “Great Britain”- that’s a geographical description for the main island of the sovereign nation known as Britain, or the United Kingdom.

    Overall, though, this is a classic, and the DVDs are sure to sell in droves.

  8. Anonymous

    I have to admit im not the biggest torchwood fan as i find captain jacks mission to turn every man gay rather irritating and the plot and the acting is often found to be wanting. Russel t davies isnt the strongest writer on the doctor who team as you can point towards blink and various other top episodes not written by him. 

    However he’s pulled out all the stops with this one – its trully excellent stuff matching the best the US has to offer and im praying its rounded off with a trail blazing episode tommorrow. Perhaps he should consider airing one or two doctor who episodes after 9pm to add an extra dimension to an excellent series.

    well done BBC wales!



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