I have been a fan of DOCTOR WHO since I was a kid and enjoy the latest incarnation of the series featuring David Tennant. Having thoroughly enjoyed the DOCTOR WHO universe for decades, I was excited when the BBC decided to expand that universe by addition of a new television production. TORCHWOOD, aside from being an anagram of DOCTOR WHO, is also a spin off of the long-lived British science fiction series. Part THE X-FILES, part BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, with a British DOCTOR WHO kind of sensibility, TORCHWOOD is a bit darker and a bit more adult and whole lot more sexual than the series that spawned it.
The Torchwood Institute is a secret organization founded by Queen Victoria to research and combat extraterrestrial threats to the British Empire, after her encounter with The Doctor in the DOCTOR WHO episode Tooth And Claw. The series is set in present day and features the members of Torchwood Three, which is based in Cardiff- the location of a space/time Rift that tends to be the source of alien incursions. The team leader of Torchwood Three is Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), who once was a con man from the 51st Century, but later went on to become a companion of The Doctor, and as a result became immortal. Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) is the police liaison, whom Jack added to his team to keep him on his toes. Owen Harper (Burn Gorman) is the teamís medical officer. Toshiko Sato (Naoko Mori) is a computer genius and the teamís resident technical expert. Ianto Jones (Gareth David-Lloyd) is the teamís general support officer, whose duties also involve sweeping Torchwoodís activities under the rug.
TORCHWOOD: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON ($80) comes to DVD in a five-disc set that features the following thirteen episodes: Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, Sleeper, To The Last Man, Meat, Adam, Reset, Dead Man Walking, A Day In The Death, Something Borrowed, From Out Of The Rain, Adrift, Fragments and Exit Wounds. Series two of TORCHWOOD features appearances by James Marsters as Captain John Hart, Captain Jack's untrustworthy former colleague and Freema Agyeman as another of The Doctorís former companions Martha Jones.
BBC Home Video (via Warner) has made all the episodes that comprise TORCHWOOD: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. The episodes look really quite nice good on DVD. Image sharpness and detail is solid. Colors are nicely saturated. Blacks appear accurate, whites are stable and contrast is somewhat beyond the typical TV production. Compression artifacts remain in check, but I did notice some odd video artifacting.
All the episodes featured in TORCHWOOD: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON come with Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtracks. These are good quality television soundtracks. As expected, the forward soundstage is dominant, with the rear channels providing some active effects, ambient sounds, and musical fill. The bass channel is acceptable. Dialogue is crisp and easy to understand. No other language tracks have been included on the DVD, but English subtitles are provided.
Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard episode/scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials, which include thirteen Torchwood: Declassified episodes, The Life And Deaths Of Captain Jack, Deleted Scenes and Outtakes.
TORCHWOOD is a highly enjoyably, darker and more adult depiction of the DOCTOR WHO universe. The DVD release looks and sounds good and will please fans.
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