September 7, 2007 / 1:12 AM / 11 years ago

Sci-fi saga "Torchwood" targets actual grown-ups

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - “Torchwood” is so unsettling and creepy that even sci-fi skeptics will fall under its spell.

It doesn’t hurt that the male lead, the mega-intense John Barrowman, is a dead-ringer for the young Tom Cruise. He even sounds like Cruise. This in itself is a form of science fiction come to life.

Compelling, convoluted and camp all at once, “Torchwood” tells the tale of a British crimefighting team that works independently of all law enforcement and government oversight. They operate by their own rules, but not in a Dirty Harry way. It’s far more sinister than that. They work for good under the guise of evil, privy as they are to Area 51-style alien info and absurdly advanced technology as they battle the monstrous flotsam and jetsam of both the extraterrestrial and human worlds here on Earth.

The charismatic mystery dude who presides over this motley crew, Captain Jack Harkness (Barrowman), looks 30 years old despite having apparently been killed during World War II. He works in Episode 1 to control the damage when an overly curious policewoman, Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles), stumbles onto their futuristic underground lair after having witnessed the resurrection of a murder victim using a special reanimating glove. What she finds is a team of dedicated young oddballs whom nobody in the world seems to know exists: a charming hedonist of a medic (Burn Gorman), a beautiful tech geek (Naoko Mori), a brainy alien expert (Indira Varma) and a shifty receptionist (Gareth David-Lloyd).

Hour one, written by creator/executive producer Russell T. Davies, smartly sets the table by giving us a taste of the savage monsters, sci-fi theatrics and all-around spooky vibe that define this “CSI” for sci-fi geeks. The second hour, from scribe Chris Chibnall, is even better, delving into the dark underbelly of the Torchwood gang and the freaked-out but cooperative Gwen as they track a homicidal sex-addicted alien. The leads demonstrate a winning chemistry, with director Brian Kelly keeping the blend of action and edgy dialogue interchanges seamless and riveting.

Cast:

Captain Jack Harkness: John Barrowman

Gwen Cooper: Eve Myles

Owen Harper: Burn Gorman

Toshiko Sato: Naoko Mori

Suzie Costello: Indira Varma

Ianto Jones: Gareth David-Lloyd

Rhys Jones: Kai Owen

Creator: Russell T Davies; Executive producers: Russell T Davies, Julie Gardner; Producer: Richard Stokes; Writers: Russell T Davies, Chris Chibnall; Director: Brian Kelly; Director of photography: Mark Waters; Editor: William Webb; Music: Murray Gold; Casting: Andy Pryor.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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