TORCHWOOD: THE COMPLETE ORIGINAL UK SERIES
Separate from the government, outside the police, beyond the United Nations, Torchwood is fighting for the future on behalf of the human race.
Starring: John Barrowman, Eve Myles, Burn Gorman, Naoko Mori, Gareth David-Lloyd and Kai Owen.
Both the name and series Torchwood are offshoots of the revived Doctor Who, the title being an anagram of the parent series used to mask the production of the first few episodes and the fictional organization having been established during the second season. While it does exist in the same universe as Who, Torchwood is much more graphic in nature and targeted a decidedly more adult audience. Now in its fourth season and a co-production between the BBC and the American STARZ premium cable channel, BBC Video now gives you the chance to get caught up on what went before or relive your favorite episodes on glorious HD Blu-ray. All 31 episodes are presented on 12 discs encased in a hardbound book. Each disc is housed within a page that gives you details of what you will find therein and the entire thing slides snugly into an outer hardbound slipcase cover. Below is an idea of what it looks like.
Each episode is presented in High Definition 1080i 16:9 widescreen video with DTS 5.1 Surround Sound. The Special Features are in enhanced 16:9 video with Stereo Sound. Since the show was shot in HD from the first episode on, it looks really amazing in the Blu-ray format. There are a lot of details I never noticed the first time it aired on TV. Simply put, Torchwood was literally made to be enjoyed in High Definition.
Here is a break down by season of what’s on the discs.
DISC ONE-SIX: SEASON ONE
Season One was a mixed set of thirteen episodes, with some terrific episodes towards the end of the season preceded by several over the top stories. The main issue I have with the first season is none of the main characters act particularly heroic nor are they very likeable. Also , the show seems more interested in pushing the envelope as far as sex and violence than having any sort of cohesive narrative. Both things give the show a vibe of trying too hard to be edgy. Fortunately, the producers seemed to realize this by mid-season and the latter batch of episodes become far more interesting and watchable. The result left me feeling ambivalent about Torchwood; Basically, I didn’t necessarily want the show to go away, but I wasn’t really interested in it continuing as is, either. One interesting note, episode one has a few similarities to a few parts of the premiere of season four. Gwen Cooper in the former and Esther Drummond in the latter share a similar journey in being brought into the world of Torchwood. I also think the titles of each would play better if switched, but I digress.
Spread out over six discs not only do the individual episodes get all the room they need, but there are an insane amount of extras. Every single episode gets an Audio Commentary track featuring an assortment of actors, writers, directors and producers. I listened to a sampling of these and they seem to be highly entertaining and informative in their own right, so I would recommend checking these out on your second time through these episodes. There are a few Deleted Scenes and while it’s always fun to see additional scenes, in just about every single case none of this scenes is really missed in the stories in question. There are also all episodes of the Making Of companion series Torchwood Declassified, providing a good behind the scenes look at the show as well as several more specials providing a look behind the curtain. If you’ve already watched the series I would suggest making the Special Features you first priority when viewing this set.
DISC SEVEN-TEN: SEASON TWO
The second season saw a vast improvement in the quality of the show as the stories tended to explore more human elements and the main characters actually became likeable. This season was also helped by guest-stars James Marsters and Freema Agyeman. Agyemen reprised her Doctor Who role of Martha Jones for three episodes with early speculation being that she would be a full time cast member. Alas, that was not to be, but it was nice to catch up with Martha. Marsters played an ex-colleague of Jack’s in a storyline that gave us some insight into the past of our erstwhile Captain. I’d almost suggest skipping the first season and just starting here, except that some of the payoff of this season has a greater impact if you’ve come the whole journey with the characters from episode one. The two-part season finale is an emotional kick to the gut with the previous 24 episodes as a lead up.
Season Two only gets four discs and as such substantially less Special Features. There are all the Torchwood Declassified episodes and some Deleted Scenes and Outtakes and that is it. I’m actually more interested in Audio Commentaries for these episodes than I am for Season One, but there you go. It’s still worth it to watch what there is here, though.
DISC ELEVEN & TWELVE: CHILDREN OF EARTH
Season Three saw several pretty radical changes to the show, not the least of which was a reduced cast. The three survivors from last season attempt to limp along for the sake of humanity. In addition to less characters, this year also saw less episodes as the whole season consisted of five hours shown over five consecutive nights. The whole thing was wrapped in one long-form storyline and subtitled Children of Earth, much like the current season is known as Miracle Day. This is a very intense and at times uncomfortable mini-series, but is extremely well-written and superbly acted. It is also a definitive end to one chapter of the Torchwood tale while leaving a sliver of hope for a continuation in the future, which thankfully has happened.
Again, there isn’t much extra added here, apart from a Children of Earth Declassified, but nothing else is really needed. This is five amazing hours of television and that’s really all that needs to be said about Torchwood: Children of Earth.
Whether you’re watching these episodes for the first time or just ready for a complete series marathon, this is a great set to own and should be in your collection. I don’t think this can rightly be called a “complete” set, however, as it does not include the special radio episodes, but maybe I’m just being picky…