MSRP: $79.98
RATED:  Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 628 Minutes
• Torchwood Declassified

• “The Life and Deaths of Captain Jack”

• Outtakes

• Deleted Scenes

The Pitch

The British have an agency to fight aliens. These are their adventures.

She looks like Judi Dench trying to pull off that whole Boys Don’t Cry look.

The Humans

John Barrowman, Eve Myles, Burn Gorman, Naoko Mori, Gareth David-Lloyd and James Marsters

The Nutshell

Torchwood: The Complete Second Season was quite the experience for me. I had only watched Doctor Who in passing, thus missing the spin-off setup for this show. But, I quickly became warm to the British Men in Black. Stories of strange temporal rifts, alternate timelines, aliens, creatures and time travel are my cup of tea. But, I never really felt like I was finding something familiar with this series. Maybe it’s the British sensibility floating past my American tastes.

The Lowdown

Captain Jack Harkness and his team patrol Cardiff, as they work to keep Wales safe. They patrol the town in their van, as they look to wipe the memory of the townspeople. The opening episode sports a giant fish driving a car. This isn’t the compelling high-wire visuals of Fringe, people. It’s an attempt to address societal standards, historical events and science possiblities in a variety of intriguing ways.

Torchwood leaves me with a lot more questions than Dr. Who ever created. This show wants you to think hard and long about the consequences of immense power dropped into the lap of modern society. When an alien named Adam attacks the team with the ability to implant false memories, it tears the team apart. Painful memories are recovered and friends turn on each other. But, what happens when the villain is vanquished? Does the damage ever go away? That’s interesting material.

The team strikes me as this weird English answer to the Scooby gang. Sure, you’ve got the usual support gals and slighty goofy guys. But, they all seem to have their Utilitarian purposes in terms of solving current mysteries. I almost get flashes of Warren Ellis’s Planetary where he describes the assemblage of super teams as antibody like ship crews. Still, it always comes back to Captain Jack as the gamechanger.

The forced homosexual overtones of the first season are gone with this sophomore offering. That doesn’t mean that the 51st centuries attitude of Captain Jack has been toned down. It’s just that the sexual politics aren’t front and center for every single offering. Some fans chalk this up to Russell Davies taking a relaxed stance with the show, but I see it as progression. If Captain Jack is going to become a more developed character, his stances and beliefs should be second nature. A bird doesn’t think about flying, it simply does it.

Torchwood as a series stands as this weird tangent to the much more fantastic Dr. Who. The highlight of the season is the third or fourth episode of the season that focuses on a young World War I soldier. Torchwood has frozen him, so they can resurrect him to fix a time vortex. The team knows that they have to send the soldier back to his certain death after the mission is over. Watching the Torchwood agents come to terms with what needs to be done vs. their wants is amazing stuff.

The Package

The Blu-Ray is pretty typical for BBC America/Warner Brothers. You get a boombastic DTS HD track that makes the most of the audio soundstage and effects afforded to this television series. Plus, you get a rather subdued 1080 transfer that seems to have the problem that most PAL to NTSC transfers have in High Definition. The lighting seems a little on the lacking side, while daylight exteriors tend to look like they were shot on an overcast day. Spread across four 50 gig discs, this is quite the release for an International series.

The supplementals are pretty interesting, but tend to be a little featurette heavy. The main attraction is a briefing called Torchwood: Declassified that takes you behind what just happened in each episode. It shines some light on the harder to understand concepts while explaining where a lot of the plot points were generated. There’s also a look at how many alternate Captain Jack’s are out there and what’s to be made of them. But, that requires some knowledge of the Captain’s time with the 9th and 10th Doctors.

In the end, long-time fans of Dr. Who and his compatriots will eat this set up with a spoon. Casual viewers will have to warm up to it and possibly look up annotations online. Therefore, I would recommend a rental for most. I’d like to say that I appreciate what the creative team was trying to do with this series. It’s just that there’s so much abstract posturing going on that it can be a little taxing on your attention span.

Asses to the wind.

7.4 out of 10