All it needed was Peter Capaldi swearing like a trooper...
I'm still slightly shell-shocked following last week's Torchwood. Five hours of television telling a Wyndham-esque story with villains of several races, flawed heroes, a genuine feeling of jeapordy and threat. Possibly the best thing to come out of the BBC Wales Doctor Who stable since 2005, and that's saying something.
Torchwood had something of a mixed genesis. Taking its format of thirteen 45-minute episodes forced it into the Doctor Who monster-of-the-week format, and to an extent this was both the charm of the series and its shackle. Concealed in the back of BBC Three, then BBC Two, it produced strong ratings for both channels, but there was something about it that didn't quite work. It was competent enough, but it had so much more potential.
Children of Earth seemed like a risk. One story, five episodes, 9pm each night in the
summer. Part political thriller, part alien invasion story, Children of Earth took all of its heritage - the previous 26 episodes, the entire history of Doctor Who, and a healthy dose of Edge of Darkness, Day of the Triffids and the Midwych Cuckoos, and pulled together a tense, well structured story that felt big and small at the same time, in a good sense for both.
It opened up new characters and new ideas, and brought them together to a natural and not-too-mcguffin-y conclusion. It had monsters with mystery and motive. And it had an open-ended closure that leaves scope for the series to return at some point in some format. Part of the success of the show in my view is that it was less complacent, and more character driven. Part of it was undoubtedly the fact that it was screened over a single week - meaning that the chances of the ending being leaked to the press were drastically reduced, and also that as a viewer, it was easier to invest the time.
Do I think it's the end for Torchwood? Part of me wants it to be, because if so it has ended on a fantastic high. But it's shown what potential there is out there for this type of series, and I'd like to see more of the same. I'd like to know what happened next to Johnson, Alice and Lois, because I think there's so much more that can be told.