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Torchwood (minor spoilers)
Bar Harbor
kestrell and I, through the magic of the internet, have been watching the first season of Torchwood. This is a spin-off series from the revived Doctor Who, though it has a very different tone. While Doctor Who still generally tries to be "family friendly", Torchwood is aimed squarely at an adult audience, with lots more graphic violence and sexual content, and a willingness to have resolutions that often not happy ones.

The science content and plot cohesion are on a par with the parent program -- i.e., barely perceptible. ("Aaahhh! The Stupid, it buuurns!") But if you can live with that, there are some interesting other qualities to make up for it.

Torchwood is an extra-governmental, secretive (-ish) organization tasked with protecting earth from aliens and studying captured alien technologies. The show focuses on their Cardiff branch. (Why a Cardiff branch? Turns out there's a dimensional rift under the city, so aliens just sort of randomly show up from time to time.)

The male lead is Captain Jack Harkness, formerly a Doctor Who companion. In DW, he was established as a rogue time cop from the 51st century, but they are being much coy-er about his background on Torchwood. He's clearly been active in British military affairs since the early 20th century, but still looks about 30. He also makes enough casual references to "this planet" that it's clear he's been to others. They've not explained how he got from where he was left on DW to modern day Cardiff, nor how he acquired the Unkillable advantage (a useful trait for an action lead, to be sure). His co-workers only know about half of this, and the mystery of his origins is a running subplot.

The female lead is Gwen Cooper, a former police officer who tangled with Torchwood in the first episode, then ended up joining them. It's the classic "outsider's viewpoint" method of introducing an audience to an unusual situation. Also classic is the Unresolved Sexual Tension between the male and female leads. Although, refreshingly, Jack seems to be restraining himself honorably on account of Gwen having a boyfriend that she is quite happy with -- at least in the early episodes; there is every evidence that the writers will not allow her to stay that happy indefinitely.

One thing that is decidedly *different* about this show is its exuberant sexuality. Sex is an important element of more episodes than not. Sometimes it's the aliens who are horny, sometimes the regulars, sometimes both, but rarely neither.

And it's not just het sex -- this show is aggressively bisexual. It was already established on DW that Jack was bi (in the 51st century, it's apparently the norm). As of episode seven (as far as we've yet watched), 4 out of the 5 regular cast have been shown snogging both genders. The fifth hasn't -- yet -- but that may be mostly due to his trying to stay faithful to his girlfriend even after she'd been forcibly converted into a killer robot. I suppose all relationships have their little problems :)

It's not handled with any particular *subtlety*, mind you, but at this point it's got dancing bear status: "It's not so much how *well* he does it, as being impressed that he *can* do it at all." Most tv shows still think that having one or two gay characters is progressive -- bi is barely even mentioned as a possibility. To have a show that practically *assumes* it as a default is tremendously cool.

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Agreed, asdr83 and myself have been watching it via the internet's wonders since it first aired. It made for some interesting disconnects as we are watching Doctor Who at the American speed of a season behind, so we got to the end of doctor who season two where they line up the spin-off well after we'd started watching Torchwood. I'm definitely conflicted about Torchwood, as they sometimes seem to sacrifice plot cohesion for character conflict and sexual aggression. (I can tolerate mangling science in favor of character and story) As you put it, if you can get past the rough edges, there's worthwhile content there. I'm hoping that as the writers get their legs under them, it'll get better. I'm finding that often true of television series, e.g. some of the Star Treks, etc. It's more jarring now because we've been spoiled by well planned and executed first season from shows like 24, Lost, Heroes.

Oh, and go back and look, you'll see a hint of Jack and Yanto hooking up at the end of one of those first 7 episodes. It'll be confirmed later.

Yeah, there was a definite (if not *quite* explicit) vibe of "Boss, you look really tense; how about a blowjob to relax you?"

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