For those of you who don’t obsess over the British Science Fiction, you may have missed the ongoing strangeness of Torchwood. It’s an “adult” spin-off of Doctor Who that spent its first two seasons desperately trying to justify that term by having all the characters act like clueless teenagers. Between the ridiculous aliens and bad sexual choices made by the characters—including often sleeping with the aliens—it was nonsensical in so many ways it’s hard to catalog them all. But the most glaring fault of the show was that week after week the main characters were usually the cause of the problems they were trying to solve. Imagine a show where James Bond is taken to indiscriminately firing his gun into crowds (license to kill!) and you’ll have some idea of the moral immaturity of the underlying premise.

Last week the show took a new tack, premiering a five part, five day miniseries that was full of the kind of dark darkness that is usually reserved for the daydreams of science fiction writers. To put it another way, it’s exactly the kind of thing that a fan trying to “fix” a broken show would do.

And for the most part it works. It’s definitely a cut above what has come before, and while there are still glaring plot-holes, and whopping boat-load of Deus-Ex-Machina deftly hidden by a free-flowing river of tears, for the most part it was entertaining television. It also manages to create strong drama by effectively burning down the mythos it created in the first two years. It’s an effective technique, and one that I’ve rarely seen used outside of Japanese animation.

I still have enough residual anger from the previous two years that I can’t quite recommend the show, but I have a feeling that if you jumped in and watched Torchwood: Children of Earth you’ll come out of it feeling entertained.

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