Torchwood The Complete Second Series DVD Review

Cover Art and Menus: 5/10
I don’t like this cover at all. It’s so mediocre. It has a cheapness, more than some of the alien costumes in TV Sci-Fi shows. I love Torchwood, that’s why this is such a let down. The cast are all equally important, so why put them in such an obviously visually ranked design. Tosh is one of my favorites, she’s brave and intelligent and saves everyone all the time. She deserves more than the smallest spot in the back of the picture.

I know it’s about this group of people, but let’s be honest folks, we watch for the intergalactic activity, aliens, weird stuff in the universe. There’s none of that to be found on this cover. What a missed opportunity. They could have even gone the cool minimalistic route with something mysterious, but no, they chose the after school special poster design.

The discs each have the face of one of the team, which is pretty cool, but not enough to win me over in the packaging department. The menus suffer from the same blandness, blah. This is a great show people, it deserves some groovy packaging!

Features: 6/10

  • Deleted Scenes – I don’t think I enjoy deleted scenes from TV shows….nope, I don’t. There is something succinct and to the point about an hour long drama/sci-fi episode. The things that were cut out can be left to the archives and memories of the people who were in them, but I’m not that interested. If you are a big Owen fan, there is a longer scene with him, so that might be worth a button press for some people.
  • Outtakes – I like to keep these people in the world they live in. When I see them goof up or crack up laughing, well, my whole world comes crashing down on me. Keep the illusion alive, don’t watch the outtakes!!
  • The Life & Death Of Captain Jack – This is a time line of the odd living and dying of our Jack. He’s been around, and around, and around, and around.
  • Torchwood Declassified –Those Brits like their companion shows!! This is the one that goes with Torchwood.  A weekly look behind the scenes and making of the show, but I say “keep the illusion alive!!” Declassifying everything is so sad.

1 – Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang – Jack’s past comes back to haunt him, but doesn’t it always? Captain John Hart hits the crew with a plot to blow up the city. He’s got a crazy bomb connected to his DNA and they need to help him save everyone. This isn’t one of the more memorable episodes now looking back, but it was a great way to start the new season. We get a new slightly hyped up version of each lead character, and there is no denying that Jack is the head of the family.

2 – Sleeper – I like the episodes that involve average people getting caught up in the alien wars that are all around. This one has average humans with deadly alien agents implanted in them and set to turn ithem into weapons upon the right command. It all illudes to a bigger conspiracy, which is always interesting. It is one of the times when Gwen is reminded of the kind of person she used to be, caring about individuals instead of always looking past them at the bigger alien invasion, world threatening scenarios.

3 – To The Last Man – I think this is one of my favorites of the season. A man has been frozen and is brought back to the world of the thawed once a year to save the world. Don’t you just love it! This time Tosh is in love, unfortunately with the guy who is mostly kept in the freezer drawer. It’s got a cool sequence of time dimensions criss crossing each other, and some truly creepy scenes where the crew are in the present, but are seen in the past in a now abandoned hospital. Empty old hospitals are always good for some creep factor.

4 – Meat – Did I say #3 was one of my favorites? Well, so is this one. A meat truck crashes on the highway. It’s Rhys’s company so he gets involved. The meat registers some alien factor and the team go to investigate. What they find is an alien creature being kept alive cruely and slowly butchered by some hoodlums in a warehouse and sold off as so much cheap beef. As if that’s not big enough, Rhys finds out the truth about Torchwood. By the way, they should do a new episode where the people who ate the meat in England turn into some kind of alien zombies or something. Ok, it’s a good thing I don’t write for BBC.

5 – Adam – We meet Adam, an old and treasured member of the team, or is he. Everyone seems convinced that he’s been around for a while. Tosh is in love with him, so what’s going on? This guy lives off your memories and in their place puts some new ones so he can hang around long enough to stay alive. Gwen can’t remember Rhys, and Jack is having flashes of his youth and his younger brother.

6 – Reset – Martha Jones appears and becomes a specimen in a big pharmaceutical company where they are trying to cure every disease known to mankind, or are they? I’ll be honest, even though I really like Martha, this episode isn’t at the top of my list. It’s got a few too many lackies and the threat doesn’t feel big enough to register on the “end of the world” scale. I like the “end of the world” scenarios the best.

7 – Dead Man Walking – Oh that damn ressurection glove!! First it causes an ex-team member to be a murderer, and now it’s bringing Owen only halfway back to life. That’s right our Owen becomes a living dead, can’t die, not alive. He’s not immortal like Jack. He is dead, but alive. It’s an excellent episode with a lot of contemplative moments as he tries to figure out what his life is really about.

8 – A Day In The Death – Remember, Owen is dead but alive. Now he wants to get some kind of assurance that he’s not wasted his life. He want’s to find meaning in his life. He becomes a useful tool to the team since he can go into a secure building past the heat sensors without being detected.

9 – Something Borrowed – Gwen and Rhys are getting married. Then again, she does work at a job that includes saving the world and many others from evil or simply dangerous alien species. Oh, I love shapeshifters. I don’t care if every Sci-Fi show and movie use the idea. It’s cool, especially when they are the bad guys.

10 – From Out Of The Rain – Another one of my top picks of the season. An old movie theater reopens and some restoration of antique films is being done. There are celluloid creatures lying in the dark waiting to be brought back to the world of the 3 dimensional. There is a price to pay though, they have a little bottle thingy that can trap a person between life and death. It’s got a certain creepy factor I love. Some old clips of movies that even show Jack as a young traveling circus kind of performer. It’s always fun to dig into Jack’s past.

11 – Adrift – The Rift isn’t a clean and tidy place. Some people get swashled back and forth in space and time. When the come out the other side they are never the same. This is what Gwen finds out when she investigates a missing teenager’s disappearance. I like this one a lot. It’s got some of what could be considered more “realistic” (if you can use that word in this genre) aspects of what a rift like the one in Cardiff would do to ordinary folks who aren’t immortal or seasoned like Jack or his crew.

12 – Fragments – Ahh, the Flashback, episode. We meet the team as they join Torchwood. They have all been tricked and attacked, on the brink of death as we explore their pasts and how they became Jack’s current team extraordinaire.

13 – Exit Wounds – I will not spoil the ending for you. If you haven’t seen this season don’t skip to the end. You have to see them all to appreciate how they wrap up this chapter of their stories. Let’s just say that Captain Hart shows up again, Jack gets put in a more vulnerable position than we have ever seen him, there’s lots of time travel, and when it’s over you will want to immediately go back and watch the whole season again. All this will be followed quickly by a very strong desire to see the new season.

The Show Overall: 9/10
I’m a huge fan of this show. I don’t proclaim that for many TV shows, trust me on this. I’m a M*A*S*H, WKRP in Cinncinnati, Cheers, Bob Newhart, and Antiques Roadshow fan. I don’t spread my TV love too thin. I go for the classics and I do believe Torchwood is a classic. The characters are interesting beyond the standard ensemble formula. I am a sucker for immortality so Jack being unkillable and then Owen being undead, ohhhh it’s all good stuff for me.

Gwen is compelling as the most ‘average Jane citizen’ of the crew. Her relationship with Rhys took a while for me to care about, but now I do and it’s a big part of the show. Toshika is the quiet wonder of the group. She’s brave beyond belief and loyal to a fault. Owen is a little too predictable sometimes, but he’s got some complexities that make me keep wanting to find out more.

Ianto Jones, well, come on. He’s just sexy and mysterious. He did have that cyber-girlfriend in the first season, but no one is perfect. He’s a perfect balance for Jack or as a character on his own. I would like to see The Life and Times of Ianto Jones. In the words of Less Nessman, “ewwwwwe wouldn’t that be nice.”

Season 2 is an exciting and very satisfying installment of this newcomer to the Sci-Fi fantasy world. Every episode is substantial, and makes me feel like I’ve really been on an adventure with these fine folks, and aliens of the cosmos. There isn’t one story that didn’t captivate me completely. In fact, while I’m watching Torchwood I’m consumed by it completely. I love that sensation. It’s one of the few TV shows in the past few years that give me that tunnel vision, which is everything else disappears, the living room, the couch, the world, and I am and observer in the alternate reality of Cardiff, Wales. I looked forward to it every week, and now I am looking forward to a whole new season.

Value: 5/10
The show is fantastic. The extras are middle of the road. The packaging is kind of boring. So, what is the real value here? You get 13 episodes of a great TV loving experience. That’s worth something, but not $50-$60. If you found this laying around for $30 I say go for it. Remember, it was free on TV. All they did was slap it on some DVD’s and put them in a box. They got their cash from the millions of TV licenses they make the British folks pay. Why do people think TV series are worth so much? I mean, yea, they aren’t getting the commercial dollars, but for me, if the price is more than my monthly cable bill, it’s too too much for just one show. Even one as excellent and re watchable as Torchwood.

Overall Score 8/10

Torchwood The Complete Second Series Is Released On DVD In North America On 09/16/08