Torchwood premiered on BBC America last Saturday. Here’s the trailer:

PJ and I first were interesting in seeing Torchwood because it stars John Barrowman and because we had heard that his character is bisexual. There are so few American television shows that have interesting depictions of sexuality that we definitely wanted to see how far Torchwood would go.

John BarrowmanWe also wanted to see it because Barrowman is gay. I first saw him when he starred in Central Park West, a fun primetime soap that aired in 1995. While his character in CPW was straight, he seemed so gay that we were interested in following his career even before he came out.

We didn’t actually see any of his movies, mind you, but we’ve kept an eye out for what he’s been in. I did buy his album, John Barrowman Swings Cole Porter, but apparently I’m not that kind of gay, since I didn’t really care for it. Don’t get me wrong — he’s very good at what he does, but I’m not really into Cole Porter.

But back to Torchwood. While I first tuned in for its depiction of sexuality, I’ve already gotten hooked on its geeky sci-fi plots, gadgets, and action. It’s quick paced and action packed. And in just two episodes it’s managed to create characters that I can get into and “care about.” I also really like that it seems to assume non-heterosexuality as the default sexuality for all of its characters. The first episode had one of the male characters go ahead with a seduction of a man and woman when the woman’s boyfriend unexpectedly show up, and the second episode had a female character snogging another woman when she gets caught up in alien pheromones.

Eve Myles is excellent as the police officer, Gwen Cooper, who gets involved with Torchwood, “renegade criminal investigation group founded by Queen Victoria to battle hostile extraterrestrial and supernatural threats,” as relates. The audience sees the plot through her eyes, so her character is crucial to show’s success. She manages to play Cooper with just the right blend of wide-eyed wonder and innate intelligence. Her part is, in a sense, the typical superhero part — she solves crimes and helps save people while leading a secret double life. It’s a good twist to that role to have a relatively normal police officer who happens to be a woman fulfill it.

Barrowman is also very good as the mysterious Captain Jack Harkness. We haven’t really gotten to see much of him or learn much about his character in just two episodes (other than that he’ll shag anything that’s attractive and that he can’t die). He’s particularly good at the comic scenes.

What I really think is interesting about this series is that it was created by Russell T. Davies, who also wrote Queer as Folk. Davies’s Queer as Folk is brilliant. (I enjoyed the American version, but the British original is far superior.) So of course it makes sense that Torchwood would experiment with sexuality.

Davies also writes the new version of Dr. Who, which we’ve also started watching. It stars the luscious David Tennant. Apparently, Barrowman’s character first appeared on Dr. Who, but we haven’t seen those episodes yet. Tennant is totally hot! There are lots of great clips of Tennant on Youtube. I especially like him in a sketch with Catherine Tate, him being interviewed by Barrowman, him as a guest on Graham Norton, and him guest hosting The Friday Night Project. I’m always a sucker for a man with a Scottish accent. (I attribute it to the influence of seeing Bolero when I was teenager.)

Coincidentally, we’re also watching a third Davies series: Bob and Rose. It’s about a gay man who suddenly finds himself attracted to a woman. I’m not sure I buy the basic premise that sexuality is suddenly that fluid, but the first three episodes are really well written. It’s certainly a thought-provoking and interesting show. And it stars Lesley Sharp, who I first saw in a taped production of Churchill’s Topgirls (she’s brilliant). I like that the pacing of this series is relatively slow.
So, we’re suddenly watching three series by Russell T. Davies!