Finally started watching Torchwood. It's really crap.

So my wife and I have finally started watching Torchwood. I’d been looking forward to seeing it for years, hearing a lot of enthusiastic chat about it being a smart, edgy grownup sci-fi series.

Don’t I wish.

Torchwood is sci-fi as conceived by MTV: slick, glib, cheap-sounding and cheap-looking, with a cast obviously chosen for their bone structure over their acting abilities. I have now completed the first six episodes and I think I’ve given the series a fair shake. Here are the issues as I see them:

  1. Capt. Jack. On Doctor Who, Captain Jack’s rakish charm and hints of roguishness is a fun contrast to the Doctor’s high seriousness. On his own series, it becomes clear that rakish charm is about all that John Barrowman is capable of bringing to the table. Watching him try to convey grief (“Small Worlds”) had me watching the screen through my fingers.

  2. Gratuitous hot sex. There’s no reason why an adult sci-fi series couldn’t deal frankly with sexuality. Too bad then that we get forced banter about hard-ons, gratuitous girl-on-girl action (“Day One”), and of course, Jack’s raging libido. This is the sort of stuff you’d normally see in a straight-to-video sci-fi thriller with a title like “Sexocalypse.”

  3. Boring characters. What it says on the tin. Six episodes in, the only ones who interest me remotely are Gwen and Jack. Ianto is a whiner, Owen a smug dick, and Toshi mostly seems to be reading stuff off of screens. By “Countrycide,” I was actively rooting for their deaths, or at the very least their irreversible maimings.

  4. Slack drama. I’m not sure whether to put this down to the direction, the scripts or both, but the stories never seem to build up any suspense. I just finished watching “Countrycide.” You’d think an episode about a village of deranged cannibals would be nothing if not suspenseful. I never got hooked. It just seemed like something the X-Files had already done much better. The spooky-monster-POV shots diffused the tension rather than heightened it (a persistent complaint through many episodes so far). There was no sense of rising menace as the team explored the abandoned village, only little whooshes as the mysterious menace darted too and fro, over and over, just out of vision.

There are other little niggling things. I found it dubious, for instance, that a band of backwoods villagers could so efficiently outfox and out-fight a team of trained alien fighters. And why on earth would the old lady leave the house to fetch the cat after she KNEW the faeries were bad and after Jack warned her not too — and she agreed? (“Small Worlds”) But I’ll stop there. This is a lousy show. My only motivation to continue watching, assuming I do, is to see if there’s any direct crossover between this show and Doctor Who. I gather that Martha Jones shows up later. Not sure if it’s worth sticking with it for that.

So what do you think? Am I completely off-base? Does the show get suddenly better? Is this all old news? Should this be a Pit thread?

I’m not sure where you heard that it was a good series. Everything I’ve seen about it here on the SDMB has basically said what you said.

I do believe that I’ve heard that the…last (current?) season was a significant improvement.

Seeing as I haven’t seen any of it, however, I can’t say much for certain.

Just FYI, Owen get really interesting at a certain point. Whether you want to watch far enough to see it, well, up to you - your issues are, IMHO, valid, but there’s stuff to like as well. I mean, hell, the seasons are 13 episodes long, it’s not like it’s a huge investment. (However, the resolution of that plotline is AWFUL.)

Oh, and if you’re a Buffy fan,

Spike shows up! And frankly, I don’t mean James Marsters, I mean Spike. And fanfic Spike, at that. But I was excited.

I liked Gwen. That’s about it - Eve Myles I thought was just about the only decent actor in the bunch, though her character was inconsistently written. Couldn’t stand Jack, who I thought was played with a spectacular lack of ability.

Frankly I’m pretty much in agreement with you, with the exception that it did hook me just a bit and I think it had its occasional moments. I stuck with it through the first two seasons, but I could hardly blame you for abandoning it.

The first season was too deliberate, and too soapy. The second season learned from those mistakes and struck a much better balance. The third (special) season was very impressive television.

I started watching Torchwood when it was new and gave up after the first several episodes. I LOVE Doctor Who and was hoping for something similar, but man Torchwood is just awful. The acting is terrible–just painful to watch at times–especially Myles and Barrrowman.

Overwrought, melodramatic crap.

It watched the first few episodes and went “what the hell is this crap?”, basically. I was informed that I should watch Doctor Who first and it would all make more sense.

So on the upside, I did get somewhat into Doctor Who, which is a pretty enjoyable show. I haven’t tried to rewatch Torchwood, though, since I haven’t forgotten how crap it was.

Don’t even bother with Children of Earth (the third season) as it’s a bucketful of stupid. It starts out impressively enough, but crashes and burns pretty quickly. I can’t for the life of me fathom why people recommend it. The aliens are laughably stupid (Let’s put 'em in a smoky terrarium - that way you can’t see them and we don’t have to spend any money), their strategy doesn’t make any sense (they apparently forgot that they can use mind control) and the big reveal is worthy of an after school special.

…exactly this. I was surprised on rewatch how much I enjoyed the second series: because first time around I didn’t like it.

OK the actual OP is thoughtful, but when I first saw the title I thought “can an OP title-shit their own thread?” :smiley:

I liked Torchwood. Do you like Dr Who? I consider Dr Who to be basically one part optimistic nifty Dr character, and one part cheesy British cheap sci-fi hokiness that is nonetheless lovable.

Torchwood for me is Dr Who minus the Doctor plus Jack, leaving the lovable atmospheric sci-fi hokiness, with a slightly higher tv rating / slightly later timeslot and so slightly more adult material, and Jack.

If you watch for the Doctor despite the hokiness, and the presence of Jack and “adultness” can’t make up for the Doctor, then the hokiness will just annoy you.

Like others have said, the second season gets better, and has fan-Spike. The third season is a miniseries, and is super angsty, but also moving. The 4th season will take place in the US.

I never tire of Jack. I especially like the episode about the other Jack Harkness. Ianto isn’t put to too much use except for his two flashback stories and his interactions with Jack but he’s lovable nontheless. Gwen is, despite Jack, effectively the main character, so I think she gets the most focus. Toshi is fairly useless and needy for the most part, but she also has one or two interesting episodes. Owen is a dick til the end, but he has one or two tender moments, and generates a couple of interesting story lines. I generally find Rhys and his relationship with Gwen to be annoying the entire time though.

But let’s see. You can safely ignore episode one (intro), and episode two (wherein we prove we are edgy), and three (finding our footing). I thought four (Cyberwoman) was an interesting look at Ianto’s past and also a cool way of looking at the aftermath of a Dr Who episode - if you liked the original Dr Who episode it’s hard to see why you wouldn’t love this sequel. Five with the faeries I think was just an excuse to throw in some Jack backstory. I thought Countrycide was pretty engaging and suspenseful, with no more stupidity than expected for a horror suspense situation.

Moving on: 1-4 as mentioned is good. 1-7 Actually a decent Toshi episode and a neat look at expectations vs what is actually happening. 1-8 is pure awesomeness, starting from the title. 1-10 is a fantastic Owen episode. 1-12 is a really touching Jack episode with time travel. 2-1 introduces Spike - I mean John Hart. 2-2 (15) was really thought provoking, even if the resolution had a limited number of possibilities. 2-3 is another interesting Toshi episode with some time travel. 2-4 has a thought provoking premise. 2-5 has been done a million times, but still managed to entertain, and give some Jack backstory. 2-6 is interesting only for the appearance and the ending, which is a set up for 2-7 and 2-8 which are a decent Owen storyline. 2-11 is a wrenching and amazing Gwen & Jack episode. 2-12 is interesting as a secret origins of everybody. 2-13 features the return of John Hart, more Jack backstory, and some major shakeups.

Third season is really a shorter one storyline miniseries, hard to compare to the rest of the series. It’s sort of like what Serenity was to Firefly except a little less happy.

So yeah, there’s a few good episodes in season one, and then quite a bunch in season two, assuming the style/atmosphere/budget doesn’t bother you, which if you like Dr Who it shouldn’t.

On the contrary, do watch Children of Earth. Most of Torchwood was utter rubbish, but this mini-series is some of the best sci-fi I’ve seen on TV.

Skip series 1-2; watch Children of Earth.

It’s funny – the consensus on a message board where I until recently spent most of my time was that it was quite awful, so I was pleasantly surprised when I started watching it a few months ago. (I haven’t watched Children of Earth yet, but I am done with the two regular seasons.) All the OP’s complaints are valid, but I think it gels into something worth spending 45 minutes on (although the last several episodes of S1 are pretty crappy). The characters do all get more interesting over time, Tosh in particular, but it’s certainly not great TV.


Despite its many flaws it works for me on a base level and I enjoyed the show. And yet I can’t get into Doctor Who at all.

I agree. A few good bits that got better. The third season was a shocker. Not great TV but interesting–to me, at least. I don’t recall anybody here saying the whole thing was excellent…

Keep watching!

This, this and three times this.

Series 1 and 2 were garbage. Children of Earth was some of the best British TV that year. I’ve no idea whose arse they pulled it out of but they need to feed whomever it was and get back up there.

The first season was terribly uneven (“Countrycide” was utter crap, but “They Keep Killing Suzie” and “Random Shoes” were excellent).

It definitely improved the second season (“Meat,” “Sleeper,” “Adam,” “A Day in the Death,” “Adrift,” and “From Out in the Rain” were standouts).

I haven’t see Children of Earth yet.

I watched Torchwood before I watched any Doctor Who: I was hooked on Torchwood by the third episode, and now I’m three seasons into the Who reboot. I thought that “Children of Earth” was ok, but not as good/interesting as the first two seasons.

FWIW, I freaking hated Gwen. She annoyed the living crap out of me from start to finish. I’ll never understand what Owen, Jack, or Rhys saw in her.

I still haven’t gotten around to watching either Torchwood or the Dr Who reboot, but… isn’t Barrowman supposed to be some kind of super-talented guy? A huge star on Broadway, who does TV when he’s slumming? And now you say he’s a bad actor? Huh. :confused:

I’ll never understand what she saw in Owen or Jack ( well, Jack did look the part at least ) :p. Rhys I kinda got.

Oh, yeah, he’s pretty bad. I think some of it is intentional - he’s supposed to be an awesome leader but in fact sucks ass at leadership, which may be good writing or bad writing depending on how smart the writers are.

ETA - and his accent, yeesh.