Timestamp: Torchwood Series Four Summary

Torchwood: Miracle Day (Series Four) Summary

Timestamp Torchwood Miracle Day Logo

Torchwood‘s fourth series was a train wreck.

The concept was pretty interesting – a supernatural event that eliminates death, driven by shadow elements and political conspiracies, and an exploration of how it affects the world – but the execution cut the concept’s hamstrings.

One thread that ran throughout the discussions of these episodes was padding (or bloating). The series lacks a sense of forward motion, even in moments of action, which is something that the BBC knew how to do while balancing the drama that we’re used to in this property. Torchwood can be slow, but even those slow moments in previous series kept the audience ready for more. Miracle Day felt like it was chained to the deck.

Another thread that wove throughout the series centered on disturbing tropes. The first episode contains the Black Dude Dies First trope – which also extends in poorly-written media to pretty much any minority because of outdated assumptions that audiences wanted/needed white straight male protagonists to win the day – and only subverts it because of the Miracle. Then Rex experiences another terrible trope twice as the series progresses: Stuffed into the Fridge.

I pointed this out in The Blood Line, but it bears some further exploration in a series-wide analysis. Two major character deaths served to motivate Rex in the ten-episode arc. First was Vera Juarez in The Categories of Life, and while her death wasn’t motivated in universe as a strike against Rex – she was murdered by the manager of a death camp to keep things quiet – it did serve narratively as a motivator because Rex was present and filming as she was burned alive.

The second was far more obvious. Esther’s death in The Blood Line was purely intended to drive Rex’s actions, and it transformed her from a character that was timid and unsure at the start of the series to a bold woman who saved Jack’s magic blood and told Rex that she was (in no uncertain terms) accompanying him to the Blessing.

In The Blood Line‘s analysis, I stated that the wrong agent had died and suggested that Esther should have lived while Rex died. I said that with full understanding of the Black Dude Dies First trope, and my thought process regarding it is pretty clear: Miracle Day tried that trope and subverted it, and then the writers spent nine more episodes building Esther while keeping Rex exactly where he was at the start. I didn’t want Rex to die because he’s a minority, but rather because he wasn’t developed in the course of the story. If he had grown, that analysis would be different, but the writers chose to transform Esther into an object after investing so heavily into her as a character. They undid all of that good will with a single narrative choice.

And in a series of episodes like this, the writers and producers needed to preserve as much good will as possible.

Enough soap-boxing: It’s time to look at the numbers. We’ve been through this thrice now, so we’re familiar with the drill: We can’t make a direct comparison between Torchwood and Doctor Who, but we can look at the scores so far to get an idea of how it fits within the Timestamps Project’s scope.

Torchwood Series Four earned a 3.1 average. That’s way down in last place among Torchwood, and is equivalent to the classic Third, Nineteenth, and Twenty-First seasons. Out of thirty-three seasons of Doctor Who so far in the Timestamps Project, that’s a three-way tie for 28th place.

The New World – 5
Rendition – 4
Dead of Night – 4
Escape to L.A. – 2
The Categories of Life – 4
The Middle Men – 3
Immortal Sins – 3
End of the Road – 3
The Gathering – 2
The Blood Line – 2
Web of Lies – 2

Torchwood Series Four Average Rating: 3.1/5


Thus ends Torchwood. It’s the first of the spinoff series to end, so it’s the first opportunity to provide a whole series rating. Keep in mind that if Torchwood should return to screens, then this will change.

Series 1 – 3.8
Series 2 – 4.0
Children of Earth – 4.8
Miracle Day – 3.1

Torchwood Weighted Average Rating: 3.79/4.00

Would I recommend Torchwood as something to watch in the Doctor Who mythos? Absolutely, but the obvious caveat is that Miracle Day does not hold up to the series. As we’ve seen, it’s also darker, gritter, and far more adult than anything else in the overall franchise, so if the light and hopeful of the main series is more your style, this might be best avoided.


The Timestamps Project is proceeding in mostly chronological order. As such, the next block of episodes will cover what remains of Doctor Who‘s sixth series. After that, the final series of The Sarah Jane Adventures is on the docket before a straight shot through the seventh, eighth, and ninth series of Doctor Who takes us well into next year.

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Girl Who Waited
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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp: Sarah Jane Adventures Series Four Summary

Sarah Jane Adventures: Series Four Summary

Series Four was a strong showing for a season of change.

The series started with the departure of another series regular, Tommy Knight as Luke, leaving Elisabeth Sladen as the only remaining member of the cast that started with the show. As it progressed, the chemistry between Sladen, Daniel Anthony (Clyde), and Anjli Mohindra (Rani) carried this block of adventures even when the gaps in the writing were evident.

In a great set of stories, the strongest focused on the most established Doctor Who characters associated with The Sarah Jane Adventures: Death of the Doctor introduced Sarah Jane to the Eleventh Doctor and brought Jo Grant… rather, Jo Jones back to the screen, and Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith focused on Sarah Jane and the natural ravages of time while giving her young co-stars the chance to really shine.

Death of the Doctor also brought Russell T. Davies back to the writing desk for the Doctor, and that was a tour de force that we never quite got from Steven Moffat.

I can’t speak highly enough of this series.

Series Four comes in at an average of 4.3. That’s on par with the first series of The Sarah Jane Adventures and tied for the top spot. In comparison to Doctor Who, that’s equivalent to the revival era seasons One, Three, and Five, which are at fifth place in the Timestamps Project.


The Nightmare Man – 4
The Vault of Secrets – 4
Death of the Doctor – 5
The Empty Planet – 4
Lost in Time – 4
Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith – 5

Sarah Jane Adventures Series Four Average Rating: 4.3/5


The Timestamps Project is moving into Series Six with Matt Smith. As that series comes to its halfway point, Torchwood will return with Miracle Day. The two will merge for a bit until Torchwood ends, and then we’ll finish off Series Six around the first part of October.

That plan kicks off with a taste of Christmas in April.

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #SJA22: Death of the Doctor

Sarah Jane Adventures: Death of the Doctor
(2 episodes, s04e03, 2010)

Timestamp SJA22 Death of the Doctor

The Doctor is dead. Long live the Doctor.

Luke is talking to the Bannerman Road Gang over webcam when UNIT arrive at Sarah Jane’s home. Colonel Tia Karim bears bad news: The Doctor is dead.

The Shansheeth discovered the body of a Time Lord and, upon confirming the DNA, organized a funeral. The Shansheeth delivered a holographic epitaph via Colonel Karim and Sarah Jane doesn’t believe the news, but Rani helps her to cope. Later that night, Sarah Jane muses with Luke that the Doctor cannot be dead. After all, she believes that she’d know somehow as though a piece of her was missing.

The Bannerman Road Gang take a road trip with UNIT to the funeral location at Mount Snowden, a massive UNIT base. While getting into the private car, Clyde experiences a jolt of energy, but he chalks it up to simple static electricity. When they arrive, they find out that the Brigadier is stranded in Peru and Liz Shaw is unable to leave the moon base in time for the service. They also see a group of Groske – a blue and tame version of the Graske – who tell Clyde that he smells like time. Clyde notices the energy on his hand and the Groske simply says that “he’s coming.”

The gang attend the gathering of remembrance where Sarah Jane requests that Karim open the coffin. The colonel replies that the Doctor was injured and a viewing is impossible. Sarah Jane notes that the last time that she saw the Doctor he was preparing for regeneration. He could have a completely different face now.

As the Shansheeth officiating the ceremony asks everyone to recollect their memories, Clyde recognizes the static as artron energy and a newcomer arrives. Enter: Jo Jones, previously known as Jo Grant. Sarah Jane recognizes her from the way that UNIT described her and they hit it off right away. Rani and Clyde meet Jo’s grandson Santiago who talks about the family’s globetrotting activism.

Jo is upset to learn that the Doctor returned for Sarah Jane. He never stopped in for her. But they share the belief that they’d feel it if the Doctor died (even on Metebilis III), so they start brainstorming his faked death. They also bond over their shared experiences on Peladon with the great beast Aggedor.

Meanwhile, Clyde pursues the mystery of the artron energy and we learn that the Shansheeth are trying to harvest the mourner’s memories of the Doctor using a memory weave that will kill the former companions. Clyde, Rani, and Santiago overhear the Shansheeth plot. They run back to Sarah Jane and Jo just in time for the Doctor to make contact through (and then exchange places with) Clyde.

Clyde’s on a red planet somewhere, but the Doctor is here. The companions catch up with the Doctor’s new face and the Time Lord confronts the Shansheeth. The Shanseeth reply with an energy beam and the sincerest wish that he rest in peace.

In the energy beam, the Doctor and Clyde swap places a couple of times. Once released, the Doctor runs with the assembled allies to safety behind a locked door. The Doctor grabs hands with Jo and Sarah Jane, spiriting “Smith and Jones” away to the red planet, the Crimson Heart. Clyde is left behind with Rani and Santiago in the locked room. They are soon rescued by the Groske and taken to his hiding spot in the ventilation system.

The Shansheeth, meanwhile, reveal that they have the TARDIS and are building a method to break in.

Sarah Jane and the Doctor work on the gadget that he used to swap places with Clyde while Jo muses about why the Doctor left her behind. After all, he did promise that he’d see her again. The Doctor reveals that, just before his regeneration, he visited every one of his former companions and is very proud of what Jo has done with her life.

Colonel Karim discovers where Rani, Clyde, and Santiago are hiding and locks them inside while turning up the heat. Luckily, the Doctor and his companions have fixed the device so they can return to Earth without leaving Clyde on the Crimson Heart. The Doctor saves the teenagers but Sarah Jane and Jo are captured by Karim and the Shansheeth.

The Shansheeth plan to use the memory weave to conjure a physical TARDIS key from the memories of the companions. They want to use the TARDIS to stop death on a universal scale and put an end to pain and suffering. Karim, on the other hand, merely wants to leave the planet and travel the stars.

The Doctor stops the memory weave’s operation by calling to the companions through the locked door and asking them to remember every adventure that he shared with them. Clyde and Rani also tell Sarah Jane to remember all of their adventures on Bannerman Road and Santiago prompts Jo’s memories of their Earthbound travels.

The memory weave overloads and begins a self-destruct sequence. Jo and Sarah Jane are trapped, but the Doctor reminds them of the lead-lined coffin. It provides just enough protection to shield the companions from the blast. The Shansheeth and Karim are destroyed and the Groske is amused by the smell of roast chicken.

Everyone hitches a ride home with the Doctor in the TARDIS. The companions say their farewells – Jo has no idea about the Time War, but why would she? – and the Doctor hies off to his next adventure. Rani and Clyde help Santiago figure out how to reunite with his parents, then Jo and Santiago say goodbye as they move on to Norway.

Sarah Jane tells her friends about the echoes of the Doctor around the globe: Tegan is fighting for aboriginal rights in Australia; Ian and Barbara Chesterton are Cambridge professors who are rumored not to have aged since the 1960s; Harry Sullivan is a doctor working on vaccines; Ben and Polly run an orphanage in India; and Dorothy McShane has raised millions through her company “A Charitable Earth”.

All of that from a simple Google search for “TARDIS”.

Long live the Doctor.


What a powerhouse story! Russell T Davies provided a story reflective of his years on Doctor Who, right down to the pacing and well-crafted prose. It’s also saturated with Doctor Who lore, including scenes from 36 adventures which I am not going to list here. Believe me, it’s tempting…

The attention to detail about regeneration – Jo knows about it since she met the First and Second Doctors – and the Last Great Time War is amazing. It’s also fun to watch the Doctor toying with Clyde about regeneration. The idea of 507 possible regenerations was a jest by this incarnation, but we know for a fact that regeneration can indeed result in changing into a form other than a white male.

I was amused by the Doctor musing about ventilation shafts, particularly in light of The Ark in Space, The Hand of Fear, and Planet of the Daleks. I also laughed about Amy and Rory’s marital adventures on the honeymoon planet. Ah, sentient planets.

Last but not least, the memory weave has a distinctive sound in science fiction history. It is unmistakably the activation sound for the proton packs in the Ghostbusters franchise. That takes me back.

Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”


UP NEXT – Sarah Jane Adventures: The Empty Planet

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp: Tenth Doctor Specials and Tenth Doctor Summary

Doctor Who: Tenth Doctor Specials and Tenth Doctor Summary

The Tenth Doctor Specials were a great but short run.

The grouping ran from December 2008 to January 2010 – effectively, the year of 2009 – and helped to create David Tennant’s farewell tour. It was accompanied by the Doctor Who Prom (which included a mini-episode called Music of the Spheres) and The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith.

It was unique for exploring the darker side of the Tenth Doctor, following from the bittersweet victory of Journey’s End and evolving on what started in The Runaway Bride and the concept of the Time Lord’s unrestrained power.

In some fan circles, these episodes are looked down upon because they are so different in spirit from the zany friendly nature of the previous three series. I feel that they perform a great service in terms of a war veteran who is trying to make amends for the things he’s done while trying desperately to avoid any further destruction.

That’s where we are with The Next Doctor and Planet of the Dead. The Doctor has just lost Donna and closed the loop with Rose, and that cuts him to the quick. By the time we reach The Waters of Mars, he’s been traveling for a while without a companion, which we have seen established before as a really bad thing for him. Without the balance of a companion, the Doctor believes that he can solve anything with his power as the last of the Time Lords.

All of this culminates in his temper tantrum at the time of his fatal radiation exposure in The End of Time. He wants to do so much more. In fact, he needs to. It is a primal, emotional necessity to make up for whatever he did in the Time War. He still does the right thing in saving Wilf, and then turns his need on its head by using his remaining time to help those he loves.

In that, the Doctor is redeemed for his flirtations with darkness Time Lord Victorious, and presumably for his role in the Time War. He’s done so much good that maybe, just maybe, he can finally rest.

From that perspective, I love this set of stories with the exceptions that I have previously noted. Particularly with the portrayal of the Master in The End of Time.


The Tenth Doctor Specials collection comes in at an average of 4.4. That’s fourth all-time for the Timestamps Project, coming in behind the classic Ninth Series, the new era’s Series Four, and the Eighth Doctor’s run. It’s just ahead of both Series One and Series Three.

The Next Doctor – 4
Planet of the Dead – 5
The Waters of Mars – 5
Dreamland – 3
The End of Time – 5

Tenth Doctor Specials (Revival Era) Average Rating: 4.4/5


Timestamp Tenth Doctor

Following tradition…

The First Doctor was a wise grandfather, the Second a sly jester, the Third a secret agent scientist, the Fourth an inquisitive idealist, the Fifth an honorable humanitarian, the Sixth a squandered cynic, the Seventh a curious schemer, the Eighth a classical romantic, the Ninth a hopeful healing veteran…

…and the Tenth Doctor is a bargaining humanitarian.

The Tenth Doctor continues the work of the Ninth on Kübler-Ross model of grief. The Ninth worked through Denial and Anger, while the Tenth Doctor picked up with Bargaining and worked into Depression (with added bits of Anger since, let’s face it, this model is not perfectly linear).

He tried to stop the bad things from happening, always looking for a way out. But when those bad things finally happened, he was so very sorry. As mentioned before, he was always looking to even the score for watching Gallifrey burn, and he wanted to do so much more before his death.

We can only hope that the Eleventh Doctor finds Acceptance.

I started watching Doctor Who with the Ninth Doctor back in 2008, but the Tenth was always “my” Doctor. Watching these stories again with the full context of the franchise behind me has been a joy.


Series 2 – 4.1
Series 3 – 4.3
Series 4 – 4.6
Specials – 4.4

Tenth Doctor’s Weighted Average Rating: 4.34

Ranking (by score)
1 – Eighth (4.50)
2 – Tenth (4.34)
3 – Ninth (4.30)
4 – Third (4.00)
5 – Second (3.67)
6 – Fourth (3.67)
7 – Seventh (3.54)
8 – First (3.41)
9 – Fifth (3.20)
10 – Sixth (2.73)

Ranking (by character)
1 – Tenth Doctor
2 – Second Doctor
3 – Ninth Doctor
4 – Eighth Doctor
5 – Third Doctor
6 – Fourth Doctor
7 – Seventh Doctor
8 – First Doctor
9 – Fifth Doctor
10 – Sixth Doctor

I’ve mentioned this before: Those top seven spaces on the character ranking are really, really, really close. I have been tempted to make them a a tie for first place since I would gladly watch any of those stories at any time, but that would be taking the easy way out. It’s far more challenging to actually rank them.


Next up, we change Doctors and showrunners.

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Eleventh Hour

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp: Sarah Jane Adventures Series Three Summary

Sarah Jane Adventures: Series Three Summary

Series Three slid down a notch.

The series started strong with Prisoner of the Judoon and had a high note with The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith, but the rest of the series seemed to hit a middle of the road status quo in a year packed with Doctor Who universe productions.

It makes sense that something had to give. The main show was concerned with wrapping up David Tennant’s run as the Tenth Doctor and introducing his replacement. Meanwhile, Torchwood was running full steam with a well-received series in what might be considered the golden age of the modern era.

On the other hand, if something had to give in terms of quality, this show was a good choice. The core audience was children and the standards for that demographic are typically lower. It’s just a shame considering how high the quality had been for two series preceding.

Series Three comes in at an average of 3.3. That’s the lowest so far for The Sarah Jane Adventures. In comparison to Doctor Who, that’s on par with classic seasons Six, Fifteen, Seventeen, and Twenty, ranked in a four-way tie at twelfth overall.


Prisoner of the Judoon – 4
The Mad Woman in the Attic – 3
The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith – 5
The Eternity Trap – 3
Mona Lisa’s Revenge – 2
The Gift – 3

Sarah Jane Adventures Series Three Average Rating: 3.3/5


The Timestamps Project is still proceeding in airdate order, so we’ll finish off the David Tennant era next with Dreamland and The End of Time, then move into the Eleventh Doctor’s era with Series Five, the fourth series of The Sarah Jane Adventures, and then the sixth series of Doctor Who.

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Dreamland

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp: Torchwood Series Three Summary

Torchwood: Children of Earth (Series Three) Summary

Torchwood‘s third series made us consider darkness in acts of salvation. The world is safe once again, but the prices paid were severe.

There’s a certain amount of creepiness in this series of five episodes since the invaders were trying to leverage the world’s most vulnerable population for their own addiction. The rest of the world did everything they could to save them from a fate literally worse than death, but politicians and Jack fell on the side of logic: The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

Facing and defying the darkness that led to that logic sold the drama.

In true Torchwood tradition, the family is shattered in the end, and the magic is in how the logic is fulfilled in the process. The needs of millions outweighed the needs of Torchwood Three.

Just beautiful.

We’ve been through this twice now, so we’re familiar with the drill: We can’t make a direct comparison between Torchwood and Doctor Who, but we can look at the scores so far to get an idea of how it fits within the Timestamps Project’s scope.

Torchwood Series Three earned a 4.8 average. That places it even with the classic Ninth Season – the third season with the Third Doctor – which is the top-rated season in the history of the Timestamps Project. It’s also, by far, the highest rated series of Torchwood.

Day One – 5
Day Two – 5
Day Three – 4
Day Four – 5
Day Five – 5

Torchwood Series Three Average Rating: 4.8/5

The Timestamps Project is still proceeding in mostly chronological order, so the path forward contains the third series of Sarah Jane Adventures and the remaining David Tennant specials, with a goal of completing both before the end of the year.

UP NEXT – Sarah Jane Adventures: Prisoner of the Judoon

The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp: Sarah Jane Adventures Series Two Summary

Sarah Jane Adventures: Series Two Summary

 

Another solid run for the Bannerman Road Gang.

The series had its ups and downs, though. We met Rani, a new member of the family, after an emotional send-off for Maria. I was very pleased that Maria wasn’t killed off – it is a children’s show, after all – and that she got to return as a meaningful guest for a couple of adventures.

The negative was how repetitive the first four stories of the series were. All of them focused on mind control as a plot point, and it dragged down the performance of Secrets of the Stars and The Mark of the Berserker.

The series did spring back with the magnificent The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith and the loose-end tying Enemy of the Bane. I really liked the character development for Sarah Jane Smith, the fresh take on the predestination paradox, and the clean slate leading into the next series of this show.

Series Two comes in at an average of 4.1. That’s lower than the first series, and in comparison to Doctor Who, that’s on par with classic seasons Five and Eighteen and Series Two in the revival era, just inside the top ten. It still beats both the first and second series of Torchwood.

 

The Last Sontaran – 4
The Day of the Clown – 5
Secrets of the Stars – 3
The Mark of the Berserker – 4
The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith – 5
Enemy of the Bane – 4
From Raxacoricofallapatorius with Love – 4

Sarah Jane Adventures Series Two Average Rating: 4.1/5

 

Since we’re still proceeding in airdate order through the material from 2009, the Timestamps Project lands next on Planet of the Dead before diving into Torchwood: Children of Earth. After that, we’ll swing back to the third series of Sarah Jane and the end of the Tennant era to wrap up the calendar year.

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead

 

The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp: Series Four Summary

Doctor Who: Series Four Summary

 

The Doctor-Donna adventures were molto bene.

The story of Donna Noble was an amazing and heartbreaking journey. Her first meeting with the Doctor displayed their beautiful chemistry, and their adventures together this season showed us just how magnificent they were together.

Her humanity and his experience made a great pair, and they helped save one another in the course of their relationship: The Doctor needs a companion to counter his vast knowledge and challenge his limits, and Donna needed to see that there was a universe beyond her own self.

The fact that their relationship wasn’t romantic – countering the Rose Tyler arc and defusing the tension developed in the Martha Jones arc – was the icing on the cake.

The heartbreak, of course, is that Donna doesn’t remember her travels at the end of her time with the Doctor. The consolation is that the universe remembers her and every life she saved.

In that respect, she is indeed the most important person in the universe. A legend in her own right.

 

Series Three comes in at an average of 4.6. That’s second, only coming in behind the Ninth classic season. That is good company to keep.

 

Time Crash & Voyage of the Damned – 5
Partners in Crime – 5
The Fires of Pompeii – 5
Planet of the Ood – 4
The Sontaran Stratagem & The Poison Sky – 5
The Doctor’s Daughter – 4
The Unicorn and the Wasp – 4
Silence in the Library & Forest of the Dead – 5
Midnight – 5
Turn Left – 4
The Stolen Earth & Journey’s End – 5

Series Three (Revival Era) Average Rating: 4.6/5

 

The path forward takes a few twists and turns from here as David Tennant’s era comes to an end. Looking ahead from now to the end of the year, the Timestamps Project will proceed in airdate order and visit the second year of The Sarah Jane Adventures, the third year of Torchwood, and the third year of The Sarah Jane Adventures, with five remaining Tenth Doctor adventures interspersed throughout.

It is one great way to spend the back half of 2020.

Allons-y!

 

UP NEXT – Sarah Jane Adventures: The Last Sontaran

 

The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp: Torchwood Series Two Summary

Torchwood: Series Two Summary

 

Torchwood‘s second series took the messages and meanings of Series One to greater heights of humanity, compassion, and companionship.

From tales of family and friendship to a mission to save what was effectively a space whale from a life of torture, we saw the next evolution of empathy and compassion mixed with the dark and gritty atmosphere that made Torchwood so distinct from its parent franchise. That darkness reared its head with multiple deaths this round, including an exploration of what lay beyond with Owen’s trilogy of stories in the middle of the run.

Like Series One, what remains is a shattered team, but this time around we see a stronger resolve among the survivors. Jack, despite the gaping hole in his heart from the dark resolution of his brother’s story, remains as a stronger leader this time around and anchors Ianto and Gwen going forward. Owen and Tosh will be missed, from their combined medical knowledge to their respective acerbic wit and technical expertise. I loved Tosh from the start, but Owen grew on me as time went on. Their unrequited love is the grand tragedy.

As with last time, it’s obvious that we can’t make a direct comparison between Torchwood and Doctor Who, but we can look at the scores so far to get an idea of how it fits within the Timestamps Project’s scope.

Torchwood Series Two earned a 4.0 average. That places it on par with the classic Twelfth Season – the debut of Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor – which is the ninth highest in the history of the Timestamps Project. It’s also slightly higher than the first series of Torchwood, which is a good sign going forward.

 

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang – 4
Sleeper – 4
To the Last Man – 4
Meat – 4
Adam – 4
Reset – 4
Dead Man Walking – 4
A Day in the Death – 3
Something Borrowed – 4
From Out of the Rain – 2
Adrift – 5
Fragments – 5
Exit Wounds – 5

Torchwood Series One Average Rating: 4.0/5

 

Since I’m approaching the revival era from a (mostly) chronological order, we’re headed back to Doctor Who proper with the return of Donna Noble and Series Four. After that, the second series of Sarah Jane Adventures and the third series of Torchwood, with bits of David Tennant’s final year specials sprinkled throughout.

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Partners in Crime

 

The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp: Sarah Jane Adventures Series One Summary

Sarah Jane Adventures: Series One Summary

 

This was a pleasant surprise.

I mean, yes, the headline is Elisabeth Sladen reviving her iconic role as Sarah Jane Smith, one of my absolute favorite companions in Doctor Who. But I have also seen so many franchises falter when trying to cater to a younger crowd. All too often they water down the property to make it more – shall we say? – palatable for children, and that tends to carve away the support structure. Everything that made the material strong gets lost in an attempt to gain more eyes.

It’s insulting, really. It’s almost as if creators are asking children not to think or analyze, but just consume.

The Sarah Jane Adventures did not do that. It tackled issues important younger audiences – who could readily identify with the stars of the show – while not pulling any punches with the Doctor Who style. It was refreshing for the genre.

The characters are strong overall, and while I fault the BBC for removing Kelsey Hooper because they thought that there were too many women on the show, Clyde Langer is a decent enough replacement. I’m really enjoying the mentoring relationship between Maria and Sarah Jane, and the evolution of Sarah Jane Smith as she builds a family on Bannerman Road is beautiful.

(Other sources claim that Porsha Lawrence-Mavour was fired due to being rude and difficult to work with, but I haven’t seen anything definitive on that.)

When I was coming up to this show in the Timestamps Project, Michael French of Retroblasting told me that he enjoyed it. That was a strong endorsement, and it’s one that I agree with. I’m also glad that he didn’t spoil the big twist with Mr. Smith because that was fun to watch without knowing about it beforehand.

Series One comes in at an average of 4.3. In comparison to Doctor Who, that’s on par with Series One and Series Three near the top of the stack. This series easily beats the first series of Torchwood.

Invasion of the Bane – 5
Revenge of the Slitheen – 4
Eye of the Gorgon – 3
Warriors of Kudlak – 4
Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane? – 5
The Lost Boy – 5

Sarah Jane Adventures Series One Average Rating: 4.3/5

 

From here, the path for the Timestamps Project continues on a mostly airdate order. Next up is Time Crash and Voyage of the Damned, followed by the second series of Torchwood and Series Four of Doctor Who.

We’re also on the verge of the holiday season, so Timestamp releases may take a break here and there over the next month or so. Keep an eye on the Facebook page for the most up to date scheduling info.

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Time Crash & Doctor Who: Voyage of the Damned

 

The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.