Are the DVDs worth it?
July 30, 2011 7:33 PM   Subscribe

I'm really enjoying Torchwood: Miracle Day. The actors are charming and the sense of humour appeals to me. (It reminds me a bit of Buffy.) I've never seen any of the other seasons of Torchwood. Should I bother? If so, are there ones I should skip?

(If it matters, I really enjoy British TV so I won't miss the American aspect, which I've heard distinguishes this season. Another detail, possibly irrelevant: I haven't watched Dr. Who since Eccleston was the doctor - I enjoyed it but couldn't get past the casting of a new doctor.)
posted by smilingtiger to Media & Arts (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Nobody gets past the casting of a new doctor....until they watch the next incarnation and get sucked back in! Seriously, I thought I'd hate Matt Smith after falling in love with David Tennant, but I'm a total fan now. Give it another shot!

The first two season of Torchwood are fun "monsters of the week" type fare and good to get the backstories of the characters, and the Children of Earth series is flipping amazing (and CoE will help explain some of the subtleties of Jack's emotional state in Miracle Day)!
posted by Zoyashka at 7:43 PM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

I just plowed through the first 3 seasons in, um, 3 days. (I work from home.) I found it pretty compelling trash. Haven't seen any of the new season, so don't know how that compares.

Season 3 is the shortest and has the most coherent (and dark!) story arc. Totally watchable on its own, even without seeing anything previous to it.

1-3 are all on Netflix instant btw.
posted by jessicapierce at 7:44 PM on July 30, 2011

Start at the beginning of the story arc, the first Doctor Who episodes that feature Barrowman. I'm sure wikipedia has the list.

The original might ruin you for the new one;)))

(You'll get over that and go back to loving the series, tho! I'm SO glad the series continues....)
posted by jbenben at 7:48 PM on July 30, 2011

I enjoyed all of Torchwood, but a lot of folks don't too. I think it's gonna be up to you. Give it a shot watching the first few seasons and see if you like it or not. It's more folks, more "standalone" plots, and less dire circumstances, but still fun to me. The only episode I thought was sucktastic was "Random Shoes", but YMMV.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:16 PM on July 30, 2011

I really enjoyed most all of Torchwood, but it is cheesy as all get out for the majority of the first 3 seasons. If you have a low cheese threshold you might want to just skip to Children of Earth.
posted by grapesaresour at 8:20 PM on July 30, 2011

The first series is crap. It has standout moments and occasionally brilliant themes - and one or two truly good episodes - but it's horribly inconsistent, and does itself no favours by liberally using the magic character development reset button at the end of most episodes (and within episodes a couple of times). Apart from those few standout moments, it mostly alternates between cheesily bad and direly bad.

The second season is a bit better - fewer moments of excellence, still inconsistent, but the overall quality has been raised a bit, and when it's bad it's mostly cheesily bad, not direly bad.

The third season is better - the cheese is mostly gone, it has a genuinely chilling story, and it's well-played by everyone involved.

This fourth season? Well, so far it's been getting a big "meh… " around here. I don't think it's anywhere near as good as the third, it's suffering by having unsuitable actors in poorly-defined roles (just what is the purpose of Rex, apart from a method of getting Torchwood from location A / plot point B, to location X / plot point Y? And I still don't know what Esther's supposed to be / do…), and the story as presented so far is just "meh", with lots of inconsistencies in what should be the major dramatic points. Frankly, it's failing hard at making me care about either the characters or the story.

But, if you like 4, you'll probably like 3 more - and if you focus on the few good moments and themes in 1 & 2, you might like them too.
posted by Pinback at 8:37 PM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think you could pretty safely get away with watching nothing but the Children of Earth miniseries (which buts up to the current season). You may not sob like an exhausted baby at the end like those of us who've watched it all, but if you don't at least get a little something in your eye you are completely dead inside.

I think it's all worth watching if you can, though. Their seasons were very short, and even the super-dumb episodes still give you a bigger understanding of the what/who/why.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:55 PM on July 30, 2011

I think in terms of style and tone, Torchwood from season 1 to now follows a pretty straight stylistic line from "Dr Who" to "Miracle Day." If you enjoyed Dr Who with Eccleston, I think you'll enjoy Torchwood.

Except Torchwood can be a bit depressing. Hardly anything good ever happens to anyone.
posted by tyllwin at 8:56 PM on July 30, 2011

"If you enjoyed Dr Who with Eccelston, I think you'll enjoy Torchwood."

Eccleston is my Doctor. Now I get why I like Torchwood so much. Heh.
posted by jbenben at 9:04 PM on July 30, 2011

I asked a slightly-related question. Basically, I liked Torchwood (yes, even S1) and only wanted to see enough Who to get the whole back story. I ended up really liking the Eccleston series, with Tennant's series on my to-watch list. (Matt Smith is way too twee for me.)
posted by supercres at 9:19 PM on July 30, 2011

supercres : Matt Smith is way too twee for me

Yeah, but Amy Pond makes up for it. :D

As for whether or not to watch the first 2.5 seasons... Seriously, only 2.5 seasons. Queue them up in Netflix, and you'll have them done in a week.

...And then desperately wish they'd hurry up and make more.
posted by pla at 10:34 PM on July 30, 2011

You don't need Dr. Who to fully enjoy Torchwood from Series 1 on. Watch, then if you're so inclined, go back and get your geek on by watching the relevant Dr. Who episodes.

At which point, I warn you, you'll likely wind up with a new, similar issue. The answer to that issue is yes. Yes, after watching specific episodes, you should just give in and watch the post-Eccleston years. Internets or Netflix, Ms. Tiger.

I also love Chris Eccleston.

posted by desuetude at 12:01 AM on July 31, 2011

I haven't seen Miracle Day, but Seasons 1 and 2 are pretty horrible. Watchable in a train wreck/'its fanfiction on screen' way, but horrible.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 2:15 AM on July 31, 2011

Watchable in a train wreck/'its fanfiction on screen' way, but horrible.
Totally. Gwen is the most blatant Mary Sue I've ever seen in a non-internet, text-based production, and many of the episodes are laughably bad. But it's ... oddly compelling. Charlie Brooker gets at the actual experience of watching series 1 and 2 Torchwood here.
posted by Sonny Jim at 3:06 AM on July 31, 2011

It's not surprising that Miracle Day reminds you of Buffy. Some of the episodes have been written by Jane Espenson.
posted by jozxyqk at 3:50 AM on July 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

A-ha, good point, jozxyqk! I noticed that while watching, but wasn't thinking of it when I asked this question. Still, I'm convinced - I'll give seasons 1 and 2 a try, with the knowledge that reviews are distinctly mixed, and have slightly higher expectations of season 3. Thanks all!
posted by smilingtiger at 10:24 AM on July 31, 2011

Another vote to skip seasons 1 and 2, go directly to Children of Earth, which is amazing.
posted by jbickers at 12:28 PM on July 31, 2011

Buffy was monster of the week at first too, and the first season seems pretty goofy in comparison with the sophistication that the show demonstrated at its height. But the later seasons mine the early episodes not just for in-jokes, but for character development that I think added a lot of depth. Similarly, I think that the impact of Children of Earth was enhanced (for me) by my familiarity with the characters from their goofier past.

There's something to be said for this. Ok, we've got engaging characters that we've been using for this guilty pleasure TV show. What should we do next? Let's unleash our writing skills while we give Ms. Gwen "The Watson-The Heart-Took a Level in Badass" Cooper and Mr. Jack "Badass Longcoat-Bi the Way-Who Wants To Live Forever" Harkness some real problems.
posted by desuetude at 2:20 PM on July 31, 2011

We watched it from season one, episode one, and while the quality isn't there for every episode, we're hooked.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 4:28 PM on July 31, 2011

I would watch the relevant Who episodes, the Torchwood season 1 pilot (for context), skip the rest of season 1 (since there's almost no character development in it anyway), then watch the rest. Season 2 is much better than Season 1, Children of Earth is great (although v creepy), and Miracle Day seems to progressing nicely.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:53 PM on July 31, 2011

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