Torchwood: Children of Earth -- Day Five

Category: , , , , By Rev/Views

Day Five is not available on the BBC iPlayer yet but when it does it will here, after the BBC HD version has airred.

So beware of spoilers coming up... You have been warned.


It's all over now and I'm pretty sure people are going to be bandying words like bleak, sad, moving and depressing for quite a while. Myself I'm quite pleased with it, I do enjoy a good downer and Torchwood Day Five delivered that in spades.

Putting the pieces together it turns out that the 456 are effectively a race of addicted crack users, except their crack is the chemical composition of human children. No, the 456 aren't here because they need our children to survive or reproduce, they're not here because they're warmongering killers, they're here because they are effectively bullying drug addicts muscling in on the one place where they can get their fix from, but they're not willing to pay the bill. It's almost like an intergalactic version of The Corner in scope, almost.

Captain Jack's actions in this series have been very dark indeed, by the end of it he finally realises what a monster he's become. In someways it's quite ironic, the man he most admires - The Doctor - would never have sacrificed one child to save the rest, that kind of compromise is unthinkable. But Jack? Not content with effectively (if unintentionally) murdering his boyfriend last episode he now offers up his grandson as a sacrifice. It's one heck of a dark message, I do hope this means we shan't be seeing Captain Jack on Doctor Who again, I'm not sure a child killer is the right kind of person to make an appearance at all.

Anyhow, enough pondering on that. Was it any good? The answer is yes, yes it was. The fourth and fifth episodes have managed to make up for the second and third, though the story as a whole feels like it would have been better paced as a three parter. It did feel a little stretched thin in the middle, but by the end the pay off was almost worth it all. I'd certainly have few complaints if this had been a three parter.

I think the entire thing as a whole hangs together at around a seven out of ten, which may sound a little harsh - but the thing to remember is Torchwood previously was lucky if it achieved a five in my estimation. So there has been dramatic improvement, but I would quite happily award another point for the bleak ending, except Rusty once again pulls the final answer to solve all of this out of the ether. I'm tired of his "last minute Deus Ex Machina" finales, utterly sick of them all the way to the marrow of my bones, so I confiscated that point back and leave things at a seven.

There were silly moments, there are quite a few logical loopholes if you look to hard at things, but if there is one thing Rusty can do, it's write emotional scenes well - and that's what he did here, he finally played to his strengths at the end and delivered an ending which I'm sure will leave quite a lot of viewers used to more upbeat and light entertainment devastated. Me I was able to weather it as I've seen far more disturbing and upsetting moments on other drama shows, but I was still impressed.

So in a rather rambling way I guess I'm saying Torchwood: Children of Earth was pretty good, it was a huge improvement over the previous seasons and showed a lot of promise. I know and accept that I tend to hold drama up to an impossible standard at times, I especially don't cut Sci-fi any slack (mostly because Sci-fi seems to think it can cut corners in characterisation and plot because it has whizzy gizmos) but this was a decent enough offering from BBC Wales.

The Short Lowdown on the entire thing:
Good emotional stakes
Exceptional acting from the support characters
Some good performances from the main cast as well
Bleak ending
Great comedy moments earlier on, mostly from Ianto's family

A bit of a lame reasoning behind the alien's actions
Weak "defeating" of the 456
Massive logical mistakes in the plot, big enough to drive a truck through at times
Story was a little stretched thin over five hours and suffered from poor pacing at times

For an alternative take check out Dan's Media Digest or Snark and Fury.

Side Note: I was utterly thrown by some of the extras in this final episode. I suffer a lot when watching Torchwood (and Doctor Who) because I'm intimately familiar with the locations they film in and around Cardiff. So their attempts to pretend bits of Cardiff are London just don't work for me and I do get a little confused. But I was even more confused this time because several of the extras are people I know, as such I spent a lot of time going "Was that _____? It was!" and losing track of the plot occasionally. (If you're interested I have had a chance to be an extra in the Sarah Jane Adventures, but I'm exceptionally camera shy.)


4 comments so far.

  1. Lisa Rullsenberg 11 July 2009 at 17:19
    In someways it's quite ironic, the man he most admires - The Doctor - would never have sacrificed one child to save the rest

    And yet, killed his own race in the Time War... to save everything else... hmm. Not quite sure your analogy holds there.

    I did read your small print 'distraction' point at the end of the post. Frankly I'd have been livid with envy that people I knew had been on the show - were these just casual acquaintances or folk you know well? I'm just remembering the whole 'Behind the Sofa' yelps when one of their number polled up as cyber-toothed man in street that the Doc and Rose examine. How do you keep quiet about things?!
  2. Rev/Views 11 July 2009 at 17:29
    I'm still not completely convinced by the "I killed all the Time Lords" claim from the Doctor, I suspect it was an unintentional result of his actions in the Time War and not exactly his fault. I can't see him intentionally sacrificing a child, he would have thrown himself in there first (which is what I thought Jack was going to do).

    Still, fair point.

    As for the people on the show, it varies - some of them I know casually, like the chap who played the back of David Tennant during the Hand Doctor scenes (he plays music in Cardiff most Wednesdays - his name is Colum Regan). Credits are at

    Others I know quite a bit better, but for the most part I don't ask about what's happening on the sets when I do catch up with them. I just don't want to know anything in advance.
  3. Rev/Views 11 July 2009 at 17:30
    Oops, that was the Voyage of the Damned credits, but still. He's there.
  4. MediumRob 13 July 2009 at 17:38
    Yeah, daft ending, but otherwise a definite improvement on all previous Torchwood efforts.

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