Picture the scene. You are in a little garret room in New York’s immigrant quarter. On a balcony, over the street, are the Ghosts of Torchwood Past: insecure Tosh; Ianto and his stopwatch; Vera (VERAAAA!!!) burning to death; plus a few randomers we never quite understood the point of – Esther’s sister, Ianto’s cyber-girlfriend and Rex’s dad.
‘What do you wanna do to them?’ asks Captain Jack.
Well, frankly, there’s quite a lot we’d like to do to them: resurrect some; use a bit of retcon to forget about the others. As we await a decision on Torchwood‘s future, it seems a good time to mull over the possibilities.
But predicting what Torchwood will do next has never been easy. Torchwood is a show which has typically defied easy categorisation, and deciding which year you prefer is very like deciding which of the Queen’s children you like best.
Series 1 was Edward – no real sense of its own identity, but prone to making loud and extravagant gestures just to get noticed. Series 2 was Charles – not quite the full shilling, but very much concerned about the plight of the whales. Children of Earth was Anne – tough; uncompromising; strictly business. And Miracle Day was Andrew – brazenly selling its soul to a foreign market.
So, what would our recipe be for a potential Series 5?
1. Greater internal continuity in the plotting. We don’t want to come over all ‘first year Media Studies’ about this, and we do appreciate that RTD’s vision for Torchwood is as a show that bounces from one outrageous event to the other, but it was a source of frustration to us in Miracle Day that we were titillated with so many promising story strands – the ‘Dead is Dead’ campaign; the march of the Soulless Cult – that ultimately went undeveloped. It’s hard to deny that Children of Earth was a tighter, more intense watch.
2. Bring it back home! Episode 9 of Miracle Day saw two triumphant returns to the show: a return to Wales and a return for writer, John Fay. And boy, was the show better for it!
There’s something about Torchwood’s bleak and mordant spirit that just suits the South Wales landscape, and when you can combine this with the ‘Quatermass meets The Wednesday Play’ quality of Children of Earth, then you’re on to something special.
3. The most controversial ingredient of all – less Jack and Gwen. Yes, we know that this might undermine the whole “hero/heart” backbone of Torchwood. But frankly, we’ve always experienced a love-hate relationship with these characters, and we know we’re not alone.
For every viewer that admires Captain Jack as an iconoclastic genre hero, there’s another who finds him cheesy and narcissistic. For every person that regards Gwen as a ballsy action heroine, there’s another who considers her mardy and self-righteous. Frankly, we’d like it if just once Torchwood didn’t kill off the characters that are actually likeable (Tosh, Ianto and Esther, we’re looking at you).
We know it’s a bleak old universe out there, but if Torchwood really wants to be a life-affirming show, it needs to let the innocents survive once in a while.
Do you agree? What would you like to see in Series 5? Let us know below…
Watch the Miracle Day trailer…