Unearthly Times

Seasons' End
End-of-season reviews

Children of Earth


N.B. there might (or might not) be spoilers in this article!

It hardly seems fair to give the series-spanning Children of Earth a single blog post when the first two series of Torchwood yielded months’ worth of my inane ramblings, especially when not one of those preceding 26 episodes (even the good ones) is a patch on any of Children of Earth‘s five.

Then again, perhaps it’s apt. On initial broadcast, Series One and Two of Torchwood each were three-month spanning affairs, whereas Children of Earth was a one-week nightly event. With its narrative taking place over five consecutive days, Series Three benefits from such condensed viewing.

This time around I watched Children of Earth over two nights — popping in blu-ray disc one comprising Days One to Three on the first night, and watching disc two with Days Four and Five the second. In truth, only late-night tiredness prevented me swapping discs and watching it all in the one sitting. As someone who rarely finds any show compelling enough to binge-watch, this is testament, for me at least, to how gripping a run of episodes Children of Earth provides.

Man, it’s bleak, though.

“His Lazarus qualities remain undiminished.”

Johnson, Children of Earth, Day Two

It’s not just the revelation that Jack was present at the original dealing with the 456, nor that the 1965 offering-up of a dozen children sacrifices was essentially an intergalactic drug deal where Earth’s children are ‘the hit’, nor that the world is one shitty government meeting away from totalitarian state chaos. (Turn Left pointed us towards RTD’s low opinion of humanity in that regard.)

Nor is it simply the destruction of the hub, nor that in rising from its ashes Torchwood’s grand plan utterly fails, instead resulting in the loss of a whole building’s worth of civil servants — and of course Ianto.

Grim as they are, all of those things are plus points, but there’s so much else to admire here: the broadening of Jack and Ianto’s stories to include their families, the addition of Cush Jumbo as kick-ass Lois Habiba — (who’s more than just a swap-in replacement character for the mentioned-but-missing Martha Jones), the incredible menace of Simon Poland’s voice for the 456, the guest acting support lent by Paul Copley, Katy Wix and Lucy Cohu, among many others, and of course the magnificent Peter Capaldi — utterly, and ultimately heartbreakingly, brilliant — as John Frobisher, who’s so far removed from Malcolm Tucker, you’d be hard-pressed to believe it was the same actor walking the corridors of Whitehall.

It’s all these things combined — the whole glorious awful lot — that make this not just Torchwood‘s finest (five) hours, but also RTD’s finest (five) hours at the helm of the Doctor Who universe; indeed, it’s arguably the best thing to come out of 21st century Who yet.

And after watching Cyberwoman, who’da thunk Torchwood was capable of that?

Tallies from the TARDIS