Idol Chatter

torchwoodpicforIC.jpgThe brooding, spiritually-challenging “Battlestar Galactica” returns to airwaves on April 4, but those in the Sci-Fi know have been getting their fix of thought-provoking, other-worldly entertainment over at BBC America, thanks to “Torchwood.” Perhaps best known for its camp and outrageous-for-American television bisexual protagonist, the “Doctor Who” spinoff has a deep existential thread running through the series.
In the very first episode of “Torchwood,” the writers make clear that the themes of death and resurrection are to be characters just as important to the series as any of the five members of the sci-fi Scooby-gang known as Torchwood. The Resurrection Gauntlet, a metal glove that can bring the dead to life for mere minutes, is the prime motivator of the pilot and comes back to play an important role in later episodes. As Ianto says, “That’s the thing about gloves … they come in pairs.”
But it’s not just the alien artifact-of-the-week that captures the spirit. Captain Jack Harkness, the charismatic leader of the “supernatural sleuths,” himself was brought back from death, only to discover that following his resurrection he cannot die. And now Owen Harper, the group’s medical doctor, has been brought back from the beyond only to discover that he technically is still dead— he has neither breath to resuscitate others nor blood to help in times of amorous intention. How’s that for resurrection?
In the last two episodes, Owen has not only had to deal with the ramifications of being non-living, but in “Dead Man Walking” he actually brings Death, the hooded character with scythe and capital “D,” into the world and then turns right around and saves a woman from committing suicide in the next episode. In fact the recent arc embodies the show’s life and death, sex and salvation dichotomy perfectly.

But perhaps even scarier than the “Countrycide” episode of Series One, is the fact that anyone who has been brought back from the dead reveals that there is nothing on the other side. No heaven, no Elysian Fields, just a great darkness. Suzie warned in Series One that there is something “coming in the darkness,” but I’m willing to bet that the great death-spreading demon Abaddon, that Jack defeated with his immortality, isn’t the simple solution. “Torchwood” was hyped as being darker than it’s kid-friendly “Doctor Who” counterpart, and it’s certainly living up to its resurrection, er, reputation.
I can’t wait to see what kind of existential questions Gwen’s pre-wedding alien pregnancy will bring up this week…
“Torchwood” airs on BBC America, Saturdays at 9:00 p.m. ET.

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