Saturday, November 13, 2010

John Barrowman: go west, young time agent!

This isn't news ... to be news, I'd have had to put this post up in mid-August! But it's interesting to me, because I finally, finally got to see the third season, the miniseries, of Torchwood -- Children of Earth. This also ain't a review, because it's too late for that, as well ... shows you how much a much of a chaos my life has been lately!

You might be wondering what I thought of Children of Earth? I'll give it 9 out of 10, and I only dock the last mark because the ending was downbeat enough that I'm not sure I want to shell out $45 (incl. p+h) to buy it.

I'm not talking about the death of Jack's lover and best mate, Ianto Jones ... that, I can accept as necessary, painful and marvellously dramatic. But I have to admit, I was expecting a much more upbeat conclusion -- Jack always found a way to save the day in style. He certainly saves the day in this one, but the "style" is grand tragedy, a la Wagner. Everything has blown away on the wind, and Torchwood is literally over. Gone. Hmmm.

Now, to viewers in Australia and England, the miniseries was dark and absolutely harrowing -- far more so than we're accustomed to from TV, and especially from something like Torchwood. Imagine my surprise to read the American reviews, where not one but several critics referred to the same five hours of digital video as (get this), "good fun," and "lighthearted."

Uh....hunh? Hey, whatever, dudes.

If they thought Children of Earth was good, lighthearted fun, gawd only knows what they're accustomed to watching on American TV, and I don't wanna even speculate about that!

And what worries me is -- and given the above!! -- Torchwood is heading west. To America.

If this is news to you (maybe you've been working as hard as me for the last six months and haven't seen much Internet, much less a magazine!) I'll give you a quick bulletin: against the odds, the show was picked up for a 10-episode fourth season, all of which is going to be one loooong extended story -- but one of the sponsors is the US cable network, Starz, and their involvement takes the show to America and adds an American cast. Which is fair enough ... if American money is paying for it, they want to listen to American actors, not to Welshmen, right? Right. That's not what worries me.

What does worry me is that if American critics thought Children of Earth was good, lighthearted fun, by the time the new writing team gets done "rebooting" the show, as they put it, it could be so dark, so dismayingly dismal, a lot of us won't be watching it. And there's a tragedy, because some of us fell head over heels for Jack so long ago, he was still dancing on a spaceship, in midair, in front of Big Ben, at the time! He's Russel T. Davies's ninth symphony ... he's a gay icon ... and therefore the Americanization of Torchwood fills me with dread.

Having said that, I'll give it a whirl, give everyone the benefit of the doubt. The new writing team certainly has great credentials (see this for more), and it just depends how dark Starz will want to make it. In all seriousness, if Jack Harkness were a real human being, rather than a character in a TV show, he would be stark, raving mad by this time, after what he's done, and seen, and had done to him.

And here's the thing: maybe Jack is bonkers. There's a lot you can do with a character who's actually insane, though the insanity is soooo subtle, you don't see it at once. You could weave what Mel Keegan called "a darkness incandescent" about him. And I have no doubt John Barrowman will be absolutely, bloody amazing in the part, if only the audience can hang on long enough to watch ten potentially depressing episodes.

Here's something else that's interesting. The British style of acting is not "satisfying" to American critics. To Commonwealth eyes, the performances on Torchwood (and esp. this last series) have been utterly outstanding. American reviewers referred to them as mediocre. It's the style of the performance which doesn't "jive" with the American dramatic requirement ... so, again, we can look for subtle differences in the new one -- Torchwood: The New World.

And there was I, hoping "the new world" might be Mars or Castrovalva, or maybe Callufrax. No such luck!

Two things. Several people asked why I didn't run a video or an least a pic of Jack and Ianto in full-on romance mode, and that's a hell of a good question ... so here it is:

Second thing: thanks so much to Jade for "cross pollinating" with me on her latest post, and if I helped to inspire the shots where (whooooo!) Jarrat and Stone finally get it together, then ... well, I'll just do a few laps of the room without touching the floor here! And check this out:

Here's the post where the full set of images appear. At risk of sounding like the kid in the movie, with the bowl and the spoon, "Can we have some more?"

No comments:

Post a Comment