Sci-Fi Storm

Torchwood – The Complete First Season DVD Review

by on Feb.04, 2008, under General News

The first season of Doctor Who spinoff series Torchwood was released on DVD almost two weeks ago, but I’ve finally been able to take the time to review it – there were a LOT of interesting featurettes that I just couldn’t stop watching…which is real good for a DVD set…

For those of you who have not watched Torchwood yet, this is not just more typical Doctor Who fare. It is far more adult-oriented., both in language and situations. The show is very liberally minded – lead character Captain Jack Harkness is described as an “omnisexual”, if that gives you any idea, and its more explicit than in his appearances in Doctor Who. So if you have any problems with that, this is definitely not for you.

The mysterious Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) is in command of Torchwood Three, one of the centers of the Torchwood Institute, an organization that operates outside the government and charged with dealing with alien threats to Earth. Along comes police constable Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles), who is intrigued by the fact that she can’t find any information on Captain Jack beyond a World War II military record. She tries to investigate and finds an underground bunker (called the “Hub”, which looks like a London Tube station despite being located in Cardiff, Wales and built on top of a space-time rift) and a mysterious organization led by Jack and with a ragtag bunch behind him, with doctor Owen Harper (Burn Gorman), technical expert Toshiko Sato (Naoko Mori), and all-around assistant Ianto Jones (Gareth David-Lloyd). After Jack drugs (with “retcon”, an SF term which essentially means to adjust established canon history or its interpretation to fit newer stories) Gwen to foget all about Torchwood, she manages to beat the drug and return, after which she joins the team.

The Torchwood team chases down aliens (some of whom simply “show up”, having fallen through the rift), artifacts (how about a glove that can resurrect anyone, but only for two minutes? Or a device that lets you see a past crime?), or mysterious events that don’t always have to do with aliens. All the while the team wonders about their mysterious leader, who apparently has lived for a very, very long time but speaks nothing about his past. And the team members themselves may not be so forthcoming on their own pasts – or presents.

Most all the episodes are good – some notable episodes are “Everything Changes” (the first episode); Cyberwoman (not all the Cybermen were destroyed with Torchwood One); Small Worlds (faeries aren’t necessarily nice); Countrycide (just plain creepy); They Keep Killing Suzie (following up on events from “Everything Changes”); “Random Shoes” (Eugene is dead, but helps Gwen solve his death); “Captain Jack Harkness” (see the REAL Captain Jack); and “End of Days”, the season ender.

The DVD packaging doesn’t look special from the outside. The slipcase is a fairly simple cardboard cover, with a cast shot on the front, and a description and head shots on the back.

The disc holder insert itself is a little different than most multi-disc cases. The front and back are cardboard, with images of the cast and Captain Jack specifically on the front, and an artisting rendering of several scenes on the back. The insert opens like a book (as opposed to the typical fold-out style), with each disc in its own “page” which is a clear plastic disc holder. With the holders stacked, it gives an interesting translucent reflection.

The only problem I had was getting the insert out of the slipcase – it really seemed stuck as if I wasn’t removing it the right way – but it eventually came out.

There are 7 discs in all. The first 6 discs contain all the episodes, the featurettes, and commentaries for every episode. The seventh contains all the “Torchwood Declassified” specials. These may be shortened versions (like the “Confidential Cutdown” episodes on the Doctor Who DVDs) as they run roughly 9-10 minutes each.

Each disc starts first with an ad (you can skip it though by hitting the chapter forward button – this does not appear on the 7th disc), and then with the Torchwood logo sequence from the show opening, then the menu itself shows several “screens” that zoom around the Torchwood Hub. Entering each submenu results in the logo sequence again, which can get annoying after a while…the submenus are fairly basic.

Video and audio quality is excellent, even upconverted to my HDTV. All the episodes are in Dolby 5.1 – I believe all the special features are just 2.0 as usual. Too bad there wasn’t a Blu-Ray release at the same time – John Barrowman in the commentaries and featurettes made reference the the fact that they film in HD (and it scares the actors!)

Here is a complete list of special features on each disc:

  • Disc 1
    • Opens with a short behind the scenes look at Justice League: The New Frontier and an ad for BBC America
    • Welcome to Torchwood
    • Torchwood on the Scene
    • Torchwood Out Of This World
    • Deleted Scenes (Episodes 1-5)
  • Disc 2
  • Disc 3
    • Opens with ad for MI:5 DVD
    • Torchwood: Sec, Violence, Blood and Gore
    • Torchwood The Team And Their Troubles
  • Disc 4
    • Opens with ad for The State Within
    • Torchwood On The Road
    • Torchwood The Team And Their Troubles
    • Deleted Scenes (Episodes 6-9)
  • Disc 5
    • Opens with ad for MI:5 DVD
    • Torchwood: Moments in the Making
    • The Captains Log
  • Disc 6
    • Ad for Doctor Who Series 2 DVD
    • Torchwood: Moments in the Makinmg
    • Torchwood: On Time
    • Deleted Scenes (Episodes 10-13)
    • Outtakes

Overall I love the show and this DVD set is excellent. I love the Cardiff locations (although they do show those aerial shots quite frequently, and I love the Welsh accent, especially the way Gwen says “Oooowen”. The featurettes were great, giving a more in depth behind the scenes look on top of the Declassified episodes.

I only had time to listen to one episode with the commentary on, and chose “End of Days”, which featured Russell T. Davies, John Barrowman, and one other who’s name I’ve

1 Comment for this entry

  • Anonymous Coward

    The one thing they should’ve done different

    Countrycide should’ve been later in the series. It’s an amazingly creepy episode, and part of the shock is, well…. spoilerish if I post it here. It would’ve been much more effective had it been later in the series, when we were already used to aliens and monsters.

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