Torchwood Returns to TV, But Not for Many U.S. Viewers

What is Torchwood? It's a supersecret agency that operates outside the purview of world governments to protect Earth from all the big bad aliens out to get us. What is Torchwood? It's the hit BBC series, a spinoff from Doctor Who, about the adventures of one branch of Torchwood in Cardiff, Wales. That it's also about their sex lives -- which includes nookie with aliens -- is probably part of the reason why it's been such a hit. That, plus it stars John Barrowman, who came outta nowhere to be the new all-purpose crush for the thinking human. Male, female, gay, straight, doesn't matter: all we science fiction geeks want him.

Jace wrote about Torchwood back in September, and I've been blogging about it on an episode-by-episode basis over at We both like it a lot, for its smart combination of alien hunting and complex characters -- and I, a longtime and deeply devoted fan of Doctor Who, like it for how it brings the otherworldly fantasy of that show down to earth. With its contemporary urban setting and characters who feel like real people we all know, it makes the Doctor and his universe seem more tangible, more reachable. And anything that feeds my fantasy that the TARDIS will someday land in my living room and the Doctor will take me away from all this is a Good Thing.

Now, I haven't actually had a legitimate venue to watch Season One of Torchwood, because I'm not in England and so don't get the BBC, and because my sucky cable company doesn't carry either BBC America or HDNet, both of which are now rerunning Season One. I hate that I've had to resort to less than approved ways of seeing the show -- and I've got my preorder in for the Season One DVD box set, which'll be released on January 22, because I believe in supporting entertainment I enjoy -- and I'll have to do the same again when Season Two debuts, on the BBC on January 16 and on BBC America on January 26. Hell, even the BBC's official site for the show doesn't want me around. I get this alert:

If you are outside the UK you will not be able to use for rights reasons.

Rights reasons? I suppose there's some legal mumbo jumbo that justifies that, but I find it hilarious -- and also mysterious and ironic -- that a show about global threats to our planet is acting in so provincial a manner. I hope the Torchwood team has better access to the information it needs when the aliens are hitting the fan.


MaryAnn Johanson (email me)

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