All over the world children suddenly stop in their tracks, their expressions blank, they say nothing, do nothing. In Cardiff, Wales, it's just before school starts in the morning, and parents are trying to get the kids on the bus, to cross a street, eat their breakfasts. Suddenly, as a group, the children open their mouths and chant, "We are coming. We care coming." Within less than a minute the spell is over and the children go back to their activities as if nothing had happened.
That's the opening scene of the five-part mini-series, Children of Earth, from the creative folks who bring us the television series, Torchwood. Torchwood itself is a spin-off of Doctor Who, available in the States on the BBC America cable network. The mini-series just completed its second episode, and is building suspense. The "We are coming" line is from something or someone, presumably alien, using Earth's children as a conduit for its messages. In the world of Torchwood aliens on Earth are a fact, because Cardiff is in the middle of a space/time rift. That sort of thing happens there. It's why the title organization, Torchwood, is headquartered in the town.
For the most part, the British government and police leave Torchwood, and its leader, Captain Jack Harkness, alone to do its business, stopping alien threats or retrieving alien artifacts. But in a turnabout, in "Children of Earth" the government does its best to destroy Torchwood, giving us not only a threat, but true paranoia. It's hard to do your job when the full force of the government is trying to kill you.
The other main characters in this series are Gwen Cooper, a former police officer, and Ianto Jones, who started out the series as a sort of dour administrator, but has advanced enough to have become important, especially since the second season of the series ended with the deaths of two of the lead characters. So instead of five, Torchwood is now down to three.
John Barrowman is Captain Jack, a man from the 51st Century who can't be killed. Eve Myles is Gwen, who in this mini-series is showing a toughness not seen in previous episodes.
I find myself parked in front of the television watching this show because I find its plots fascinating, but also because I like the actors.
Barrowman, who is openly gay, plays Captain Jack as gay. This past Sunday night BBC America had an hour show on why people are gay, featuring Barrowman, who searches for the scientific reasons for homosexuality. The program shows what evidence the medical science community has come up with.
Eve Myles, the Gwen Cooper character, is a strikingly pretty actress in her early thirties.
Myles is a tall brunette, and has something you don't see on American television: a gap between her front teeth.
As a matter of fact, there is another thing about Torchwood you just don't see on American TV, and that's the way they handle the lead character being gay. I wonder if British audiences are as polarized by the subject as American audiences are.
Gareth David-Lloyd is Ianto, and up until episode two, when he pulled some heroics and rescued Captain Jack--his lover, incidentally--I wondered why he was in the show at all.
I've been catching up with the first two seasons of Torchwood on DVD, supplied to me by my public library. "Children of Earth" is a five-part series, but so far I haven't read or heard if there will be additional episodes of the series, which is in season three. I assume there will, but if this is the lead-off to the season it's a impressive start.