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While occasionally clumsy in the way it goes about things, the first season of Torchwood ultimately makes good on its promise to be a science fiction programme for an older market. So while it’s spun out from the more family-friendly Doctor Who, it does carve out an edgy, entertaining niche for itself.
The programme follows the adventures of the Torchwood agency (who we met in far more prestigious form at the end of Doctor Who’s second series), a small team led by John Barrowman’s Captain Jack Harkness who investigate the extra terrestrial and the paranormal. And across the thirteen episodes of this maiden season, they have a lot to look into, from the likes of a sex-craved alien and cyberwoman, through to cannibalistic foes and strange, spooky fairies.
Admittedly, particularly in the early stages when Torchwood is finding its feet, there are a few missteps, and a little too much side-indulgence in exploring material that the more mainstream Doctor Who wouldn’t allow. But it’d be to your folly to write Torchwood off: by the time it gallops into the second half of this first season, the quality is strong, the storylines are interesting, and the show proves to be a real winner.
Intertwining with the narrative of the main Doctor Who show, Torchwood nonetheless then works as an independent programme in its own right, replete with a strong cast of characters (led by the terrific Barrowman) and scripts that have more of an experimental edge to them. It’s certainly one of the most interesting science fiction shows Britain has produced in the last decade or two, and there’s much to enjoy again and again in this box set. --Jon Foster
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