I was reading the culture section of the Sunday times this morning. It’s review of Saturday’s episode of Dr. Who mentioned something called Torchwood. I just googled that title, and it seems Torchwood is a Dr Who Spin-off.
Now, I have nothing against sequels or spin offs. After all, star trek’s numerous spin-offs were very enjoyable, often bettering the original. I need hardly remind you, too, that my favourite book (well, one of them), the Lord of the Rings, is a sequel to the Hobbit. Therefore I see nothing wrong with such things.
However, I do not feel that captain Jack is a strong enough character to hold his own show. He just seemed to me to be a third unnecessary main character; the sort of character who had a few lines but you do not really notice. I could be wrong, and perhaps he cold be fleshed out in his own show.
It also raises the question of whether the universe Dr Who inhabits can cope. Dr Who has always been about a single, central figure, and the programmes have always focalised upon that figure. We can compare this with, say, star trek TOS, which had its focus upon a ship and it’s crew, allowing one to conjecture the existence of a bigger fleet. Thus, when the time came, viewers could accept the existence of other crews existing in other parts of the same universe. This universe, moreover, was very detailed – we knew, say, that the Klingons are a warrior race from Qo’nos – and with this detail star trek’s writers could tie each incarnation together. Dr. who differs from this because it is too vast, too sprawling: the Doctor has visited numerous times and places; indeed the very nature of the doctor is that he is a traveller. Apart from the Daleks and Cyber Men, nothing seems particularly fixed in his world.
This may be a problem for Torchwood. Unlike the original, they will have to fix it in a time and place, which, according to this , is Cardiff. The question is, does the universe created in the original have the integrity to support a spin-off. Dr Who was very fantastical, and it seems that this series would strive to be more serious. Can the universe adapt?
I am not sure it can. Dr Who was kitsch, loved for it’s dodgy plots and even dodgier scenery. It was science fantasy, not science fiction, and this new series wants to jump genres. This leap is, arguably, bigger than that taken between TOS and TNG, as the concepts behind the two were not all that different. I think this is a bad idea on the part of the beeb, but only time, and ratings figures, will tell.