Damn you, Russell T Davies. Just when I’ve concluded that you’re a hugely overrated, talentless hack who shouldn’t ever be trusted with a narrative structure again, and having long since established that Torchwood is irredeemably crap, you go and do something like Torchwood: Children of Earth.
If you haven’t watched it, here’s the revelation: it’s brilliant. Yes, it’s silly and Welsh, but what Russell T Davies has (finally) managed to do is find a tone that revels in the silliness of the concept and indeed Welsh people, whilst maintaining really high stakes, a sinister atmosphere, and (a really refreshing development, this) really stylish visuals and action sequences.
Of course, I’ve only seen the first two episodes of five parts, and perhaps the whole thing will explode as horribly and disappointingly as the T Davies-scripted finale to last year’s season of Doctor Who. But for now, I’m going on record as saying that parts one and two were both skilfully handled and excellent entertainment.
Episode one displayed some trademark T Davies flaws but written with such restraint that they suddenly became strengths; we saw enough of characters’ backgrounds, relations and feelings to really invest in them, without the mawkish tedium of the soap operas surrounding the companions in Doctor Who. There were occasional emotive soliloquies, but with an underplayed cynicism that made them infinitely more moving than the equivalent in the programme that fathered them. And a truly brilliant, multiple cliffhanger at the end of episode one.
Let’s hope for more of the same. Ideally in the next Doctor Who special as well, please.