If the venerable voyages of the original Star Trek TV series established the formula for intelligent science-fiction adventures (and starship captains) that regarded themselves with the gravity of Jupiter, that blueprint seems not to have been forwarded to the producers of Torchwood, a show that proves it’s okay for smart speculative drama to laugh at itself, too.
Created by the same people responsible for the BBC’s brilliant revival of Doctor Who, Torchwood imagines that there’s a super-secret group of law enforcers investigating alien and paranormal activity . . . operating from the sleepy Welsh capital of Cardiff. Each week, the team tackles some heady sci-fi story lines — a device that resurrects murder victims only long enough for them to identify their killers; a visit from 1950s-era time travelers who can’t adjust to the modern day — yet whenever the action gets too bleak, it’s usually brought back to earth by Torchwood’s winking, one-liner-dropping hero, Jack Harkness (played by John Barrowman). May he never become a bloated, toupee-wearing parody of himself.
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