Thursday, July 24, 2008

Progress in the Whoniverse Today

Now that the broadcasts of Doctor Who, Torchwood, and The Sarah Jane Adventures have temporarily gone on vacation, but the future of all three are secure, I'm writing a series of articles about the themes that they have in common. In my reviews of the Doctor Who episodes "The Stolen Earth" and "Journey's End" I looked at the convergence of the three series to help defeat the Daleks. Inspired by rewatching series two's "Army of Ghosts" which introduced the Torchwood Institute, and Stephen James Walker's great book about Torchwood Series One, Inside the Hub, I wrote about what makes the show Torchwood unique.

Torchwood is a new kind of show for a mainstream audience that portrays science fiction situations in a real Earth environment. Like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, one of Russell T. Davies' inspirations for the Doctor Who spin-off, the main characters have real-life problems even as they battle extraordinary creatures. Every episode has something different to offer. Torchwood is unconstrained by television censorship rules that might be in effect in America, allowing authentic language and fight sequences, as well as love scenes, to be portrayed.

Captain Jack Harkness is also a progressive leading role. An alien from the 51st century, he makes no distinctions of gender or race, or planetary origin, about who he finds attractive or allies himself with. This leads his team to become more free about their own relationships. This viewpoint may also influence viewers to progress in their societal expectations of others. A science fiction series should portray the diversity of humans, as well as different types of aliens. This is a standard especiallv visible in the new series of Doctor Who, as well as Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures. They all portray many different aspects of contemporary human life in addition to imaginative alien environments and characters.

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