Wednesday, 18 November 2009


Yesterday evening, French digital television channel NRJ12 shown the first two episodes of Torchwood: Children of Earth, the event miniseries (and series three of Torchwood) aired last summer on BBC One in the UK.

NRJ12 keeps the event aspect with two special evenings (Tuesdays, November 17 and 24), an important promotion - the ident voice of NRJ for radio and television is Richard Darbois, revered dubbing artist and the equivalent of Don LaFontaine in France - and special commercial bumpers. Such a treatment means something in a country where series four of Doctor Who will not be released on DVD.

The Torchwood team survivors (after the casualties of series two) are back to "business as usual" when children mysteriously stop everywhere in the same time to deliver a rendition of Village of the Damned. This provokes a panic in the circles of power and John Frobisher, a high ranking official who has a precise idea of what is happening, refers to Number 10.

But the PM won't hear about it and elects Frobisher as his lamb to the slaughter. While Captain Jack Harkness and the team offer their assistance to the Home Office, Frobisher choses to order the eradication of the members of Torchwood and send a ruthless operative woman to eliminate every person implied. "We are coming" chant the children of Earth.

Spooks: Children of Earth? Not some ghostly creatures Torchwood Cardiff is familar with but Spooks, the Kudos television series. Torchwood: Children of Earth is a clever cross between Michael Crichton and Frederick Forsyth with shades of vintage science fiction movies. Nods to the spy genre and to the section D of Thames House are everywhere in the miniseries from the government assassin woman (a less thoughtful Ros Myers) to the cynical technician who shares with Frobisher a lot of information about the situation and looks like a darker version of Q in the Bond movies.

Russell T. Davies, John Fay and James Moran (the writers) take bold risks of the kind British television can take at its very best, with spectacular shocking twists. This is the end of Torchwood as we knew it and they go on the exploration of the personal lives of their characters, going further into their emotions and their dilemmas to the point of tragedy.

John Barrowman (Jack), Eve Myles (Gwen), Gareth David-Lloyd (Ianto), Kai Owen (Rhys) and Tom Price (PC Andy) return. The supporting cast is fabulous: Peter Capaldi - who keeps the suit of The Thick of It's Malcolm Tucker for the role of Frobisher, Nicholas Farrell (recently seen in Collision), Lucy Cohu, etc. The magnificent score is by Ben Foster and Euros Lyn directs.

Torchwood: Children of Earth is brilliant television without concessions. A sci-fi thriller novel for TV, a masterpiece and future classic. And an original creation, which is rare in this age of unnecessary remakes.

Not a number. Don't blink.

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