We are coming.
In place of a third series of thirteen individual episodes, TORCHWOOD: CHILDREN OF EARTH ($30) brought show back for a five-hour miniseries that focused on telling a single story. TORCHWOOD: CHILDREN OF EARTH actually works as a standalone drama that requires no previous knowledge of the series, but one will take more away form this production, if they are a fan, or at least familiar with the premise. In case you haven’t ever seen an episode of TORCHWOOD here is a refresher course on the series… 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. Ianto Jones (Gareth David-Lloyd) is the team’s general support officer, whose duties also involve sweeping Torchwood’s activities under the rug. Outside the team proper is Rhys Williams (Kai Owen); he is Gwen’s significant other, who was initially unaware of her activities at Torchwood, but has since become "involved" with their work.
This brings us back to the miniseries… TORCHWOOD: CHILDREN OF EARTH offers fans of the series, the darkest, most complex, character rich, compelling and rewarding adventure of the series run. In a nutshell, the premise revolves around what the world’s governments are willing to do and willing to sacrifice to prevent an alien species from wiping out the human race. The story opens in 1965, with the alien abduction of a dozen or so British children… Fast forward to the present, when a strange phenomenon occurs. All the children of Earth seem to be locked in a trance and begin chanting in unison "We are coming" before going back to their routines, as though nothing ever happened. Of course Torchwood is on the case and their investigating turns up an anomaly… a single adult had been chanting with the world’s children.
Meanwhile, the British government is aware of the cause of the phenomenon… the long dormant broadcast frequency on which an alien race known only as the 456 has become active and is somehow controlling the children. Humanity’s last contact with the 456 was in 1965, and what happened in that instance is now viewed as a political liability by the current British government, which results in the assassinations of all parties involved, including Captain Jack Harkness. Torchwood Three is to be considered collateral damage, with the rest of Jack’s team targeted for termination, especially when he proves impossible to kill. This leaves the team fighting their own government, while trying to save the planet from a hostile alien species that are demanding ten percent of the children of Earth. The cast of TORCHWOOD: CHILDREN OF EARTH also features Peter Capaldi, Paul Copley, Nicholas Farrell, Susan Brown, Lucy Cohu, Ian Gelder, Cush Jumbo, Liz May Brice, Charles Abomeli, Rik Makarem, Katy Wix, Rhodri Lewis, Bear McCausland and Gregory Ferguson.
BBC Home Video (via Warner) has made TORCHWOOD: CHILDREN OF EARTH available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. Image sharpness and detail is very good for a television caliber production rendered in standard definition. Colors are reproduced with respectable saturation and natural looking flesh tones. Blacks appear deep and the whites are crisp. Contrast is somewhat beyond the typical TV production. Digital compression artifacts are not a concern.
TORCHWOOD: CHILDREN OF EARTH comes with Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. The sound design is strong for a television production. Of course, the sound is front heavy, but there is some nice deployment of the rear channels. There are plenty of atmospherics, as well as some interesting use of the soundstage when the aliens are in control of the children. Music is well integrated into the track and fidelity is very good. The bass channel is effective. Dialogue is crisp and easy to understand.
Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as a thirty five minute Torchwood: Declassified, which looks at the production.
TORCHWOOD: CHILDREN OF EARTH is a real treat. The DVD presentation is solid. Let’s hope we see future adventures of Captain Jack and company sometime soon. Recommended.
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