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July 07, 2009

The Technical Name is a Gizmo.

I considered writing a review of the other Day One as a joke, but that'd be a bit cheap and annoying, wouldn't it?

 Torchwood: Children of Earth: Day One   

CoEday1Torchwood's been a mixed bag. We all know it. Sometimes the writing, acting, direction, and the very stars themselves align, and Torchwood pulls together for a compelling episode. But it's rare. The show has problems and I won't pad the review rehearsing them because you already understand what it is that keeps me from being comfortable calling myself a "fan" of Torchwood.

Even so.

I'd been excited for Children of Earth, and a lot of Torchwood quasi-fans have felt the same. Perhaps that's why RTD (or whoever) took the "special event" approach. It saves money, obviously, but it allows them to whip up a frenzied optimism that would otherwise be impossible. But Torchwood simply has to deliver. Otherwise, there will be backlash (see: Planet of the Dead for what happens when specials aren't special enough). There is no middle road: It's either great or it's shit.

And I'm thinking... maybe... not shit?

Because this time, it's different. No longer is it a rehash of Buffy or a gratuitously "adult" Doctor Who. This really is something refreshingly and different. Cinematic. Creepy. Atmospheric. Funny. Above all, ambitious. The approach has changed. The over-the-top brashness, which has been alternately played for melodrama and laughs, is reigned in and made subservient to the storytelling. Frankly, it's hardly Torchwood. Or, as Stuart says, "It’s as though Russell T Davies has taken his original premise and re-engineered it from the bottom up." And this time he's focusing on character, something that was seriously off in Series One and improved only marginally in Series Two. Here it's front and center in Day One, and I realize that I've come to love these characters that I barely cared about a couple years ago.

Not that Day One dwells on characters at the expense of the plot. In fact, there's so much going on in this story that I can barely take it all in. The characters are so numerous, the plot twists so shocking, and the scope so epic, that it's going to take some time to sort out how exactly all of these pieces fit together. And I mean that in a well-constructed-novel sort of way, not in a total-mess-of-poor-storytelling kind of way.

Which is why there's not much more I can say about Children of Earth, yet. Specific comments are going to have to wait until tomorrow at least, partially because I'm not a reviewing dynamo like Stuart and partially because I'm going to need to see more before I can decide how I feel about it. I've said all I can for now, but allow me at least to register my optimism. This will either be one hell of a ride or one spectacular failure.

And if it's the latter... well, at least it'll be over by Friday.


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