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The Undiscovered Country: John Barrowman, Russell T. Davies, Julie Gardner Defend "Torchwood" Decisions

I couldn't stick around for yesterday's Torchwood/Being Human panel at Comic-Con as I had to get back to Los Angeles (the trains wait for no man) but I sent my two fantastic freelancers to cover the BBC America dramas panel on the final afternoon of Comic-Con 2009.

Series creator Russell T. Davies was joined by Torchwood: Children of Earth director Euros Lyn, executive producer Julie Gardner, and series star John Barrowman on the panel for Torchwood.

The main topic, of course, following the conclusion of Torchwood: Children of Earth on BBC America last week: Ianto Jones, who perished in "Day Four" of Children of Earth.

"Everyone's going to answer this question in their own way, but they always said it as people die young in Torchwood," said Barrowman of the death of Ianto Jones. "They just do. It's a dangerous world. It was sad, yes. But we were all sad. but that's the way it is."

"It's the right thing for the story," said Gardner. "Part of that journey is that the man he loves, that he's in a relationship with is the cost of making Captain Jack a hero. He has to suffer, he has to go through that in order to be the hero."

But it was Davies who threw himself on the sword. "If you want to blame me, I absolutely take the blame," said Davies. "I said let's kill him and I saw it through, I made it happen. No one's going to change my mind and no one's going to bring him back. Sorry, but that's it. Blame me."

"But a brilliant piece of TV drama, was it not?" said Barrowman in response, pointing at Davies as the crowd cheered.

As for allegations that Davies has been rude to viewers, Davies was bluntly honest about his feelings: "I have nothing but respect for internet fandom," he said. "I understand that some things I have said have been taken the wrong way and I understand that, and that's okay because sometimes people will always read things the way that makes sense to them. But I'm just not going to change my mind. I'm not."

You can find audio for the entire panel below, two video clips from the event, one in which Barrowman defends the "darker side" of Captain Jack Harkness in Torchwood: Children of Earth and the other in which Davies talks about his decision to kill off Ianto Jones, and more news from the Torchwood panel below.

Torchwood: John Barrowman on the "Darker Side" of Captain Jack:

Torchwood: Russell T. Davies Talks About the Decision to Kill Ianto Jones:

Thanks to the efforts of my crack freelancers, the audio for the full Torchwood panel can be found below:

While it's certain now that Torchwood will be back for a fourth season, there are no indications of an episodic count for next season, whether Cush Jumbo's Lois Habiba will play a role, or even a narrative direction. "It's too early," said Davies. "We haven't even sat down for meetings yet."

What is certain, however, is that there won't be a "Once More With Feeling"-style musical episode of Torchwood in the cards. Davies squashed any chance that Torchwood's agents will burst into song, saying that it would be difficult to top Buffy the Vampire Slayer's musical efforts.

Reporting by Lissette Lira and Mark DiFruscio


Greer said…
It's frustrating that so many people are wasting time complaining about Ianto's death when they really should be talking about how brilliant Children of Earth was. Get over it, people!
Anonymous said…
A tragedy floating into plot-holes and OOCness isn't brilliant, actually... I wonder who will watch season 4 now that anything is left to wait for.
ted23 said…
@anonymous: You're clearly in the minority as the reaction at SDCC was overwhelmingly positive for TW. Get over yourselves all ready.
Anonymous said…
I was all fired up too when I first watched it. Then I watched it again.
When you all, Americans, will pass the hype and watch it again, you'll agree with me. That was a crappy melodramatic cheap-shocking assassination of the previous Torchwood. The first three episodes where very good, then everything just went crap.
Cargau said…
CoE was despite what the writers and even JB may say not a brilliant piece of drama. It used cheap tricks to get a fresh audience (someone who hasn't seen the previous 2 seasons) involved and disregarded everything that was established before.

It is filled with plot holes from start to finish, to only name a few, if someone doesn't agree

1) They blow up the Hub, what about the Rift? Weren’t we led to believe it to be dangerous and extremely fragile and slight energy shifts could not only damage all of Cardiff but the UK?
2) The bomb doesn’t have enough power to even scratch the water tower right above, but is supposed to have destroyed all the levels beneath?
3) Someone stole the SUV and no one considers tracking it? Couldn’t it have been a rather useful accessory?
4) The members of Torchwood are being hunted but no one thinks of contacting U.N.I.T. or more precisely Martha because she is on her honeymoon even though the world seems to be coming to an end?
5) The 456 can make children say whatever they want, but can’t make them move to their pickup spot so they have to “blackmail” the humans to hand them over? Wouldn’t simply making all children stop at the same time and then picking up however many they want be way easier?
6) 40 years ago they wanted 12 children and now all of a sudden they want 10% of the world population? Shouldn’t someone care to explain why they need so many now?
7) 40 years ago the government decided to hand over 12 orphans, children nobody would miss, to save the planet. Why would leaking this information be any danger to the current Prime Minister? Who should miss them now, when they didn’t back then? Who would even believe such a story? Why rather destroy Torchwood to keep this ridiculous secret than asking them for help, as they are the alien specialists?!

The list could go on, but I'll leave it to others to re-think calling this brilliant script writting!

The third series is a stand alone in another genre and completely disregards fans that supported the show from day one. Considering the promoting for CoE targeted the core audience with empty promises of certain elements in series three and went the complete opposite direction it is really no surprise people are angry and disappointed.

Killing off one - if not the - most popular character and then being surprised by outrage is beyond stupid, especially following the death of two other main characters only 5 episodes earlier.

RTD is heading for the US and did neither want nor expect another season of Torchwood to be commissioned it seems, so why not leave the audience that supported him in the first place devastated behind. CoE only left a hollow feeling behind. Characters we were supposed to care about were either morally or physically assassinated. The Hub was destroyed, the SUV stolen, the leader corrupted and running and the team no more.

Torchwood never had the best of scripts, some were downright atrocious, but the characters made me (and many more) watch and most importantly enjoy the show. If RTD and JG didn’t want to continue in this legacy they should have at least been kind enough not to call these 5 episodes Torchwood, but “Spooks Cardiff”.
traciaknows said…
I was a huge fan of season one and two of Torchwood. It is unfortunate that while there were some moments of CoE that were decent, the majority of it played out like a bad fan fiction. It prompts me to say that RTD needed a beta checker. The plot had more holes than swiss cheese. The death of Ianto Jones in such a truly pointless and ridiculous way it wasted any opportunity to explore more of his story and the relationship between him and Jack. Gareth David-Lloyd deserved better, and so did the fans who have waited so patiently for this season.

The fans of Ianto Jones aren't just going to get over it. Especially after RTD's callous and mean spirited reaction to the fans displeasure in Entertainment Weekly and other publications.

I support the efforts of the Save Ianto Jones Campaign. And the almost 50,000 hits to the website and the beginnings of global media on the subject suggest to me that we will not be the minority for long.
surr said…
For me it's definitely not only the fact that Ianto was killed off, but also the destruction of everything I liked about the show.

There is nothing left at this point in time that would interest me in watching the program again. I had been considering purchasing the DVDs for at least series 1 and 2, but as all of that was literally thrown out for CoE I feel like it doesn't really matter anyway.

I honestly regret watching the program to begin with, excepting the fact that I discovered a few good actors whom I hope to see in other programs in the future.

I anticipated this series so much, like a child waiting for Christmas morning, but alas my TORCHWOOD stocking contained nothing more than coal and the remnants of something I once loved.
Anonymous said…
I completely agree with the mentioned plote holes and will not repied what others have already said.

But tehre's another thing I would liek to poinr out abotu teh show.

It was so obvious that you have to be female to get a got storyline and survive in the end. Besides Alice, who has to suffer a big loss, any women came out more or less clear. Gwen gets all the happy ending (How realistic is it hat she didn’t loose the child after all the physical and emotinal stress she’s gone through?). Lois develops nicely from a nobody to a heroine. Rhiannon does the same in some way. Spears and Johnson turn from evil to good in the end without having to pay for their previous sins (like he men have). Even the gouvernment now has a female leader, one who was as eagerly as the PM willing to sacrifice others to save her own but in opposite to him has not to face consequences (at least not that we see it).

But the men? Ianto dead (I’ll come to this more later on). Clem dead. Steven dead (Would he have survived if he would have been a girl?). Jack dead more then onces (It really got a bit boring over the time) and now devastated. Frobisher taking himself out of any responsibilty (Okay there we have 3 female victims, but does anyone really care?). The PM at least destroyed his life and career. Rupesh died the moment he realized on which side he belonged. Andy may face a trial for disobience. Who knows? Or probably got killed in the riot. The only male who came clear was Rhys and that just had to be in order to keep Gwen happy.

If a fanfiction-writer would tread his characters this way anyone would holler you're Mary Sue.
Noel said…
I have to say that many things with Children of Earth were very good. I enjoyed the first three episodes so much, and I was literally on pins and needles the whole week to find out what was going to happen next.

With that said I have to admit that I didn't really care for day four and five. So much drama, so many emotions, and so much tragedy packed into two hours; it was actually painfull to watch, and I haven't recovered yet.

So yes, I think the writing was better than for previous season. But was the feeling of Torchwood lost? Yes I think so. Will I come back for another season? I doubt it.
ChuckPR said…
Ted 23 said:
"@anonymous: You're clearly in the minority as the reaction at SDCC was overwhelmingly positive for TW. Get over yourselves all ready."

Actually being at the SDCC is what needs to gotten over.

Who cares about what the reaction of the crown was at the SDCC?

What does that prove?

Crowd reation does nothing to undo plot twists that have essentially thrashed almost every worthwhile element of the series.

Often at a convention people find themselves nodding like lemmings to even objectionable things celebritie say because the person is there in front of them.

Partially it can be credited to being enamored or just happy to have access to the producer, writer, or star - in some cases people devolve into sychopants almost instantly.

Sometimes it's as simple as wanting to be polite to the speaker even if you don't agree with what they are saying.

I've even overheard people who I've seen nodding and applauding downright rude comments made by celebrities towards their viewers later complaining about how they couldn't believe the celeb had even said that.

Later taking a position 180 degrees against statements they had nodded and applauded once the sheen of celebrity enthrallment wore off.

It's clear that now that Davies is over and done with Doctor Who he at some point came to care nothing about Torchwood.

No one who has seen the panel discussion but wasn't there -

i.e. those fans thinking clearly and looking at what was said and done both in CoE and at the panel ...

seems to view what was done in CoE as positive, forget about positive, even as good writing muchless good drama.

There was no drama in totally trashing Jack Harness' character.

Davies thinks that Harness' immoral and heartlessness acts that helped lead to Ianto and his own granchild's death somehow makes the character more of a hero.

Stupidity. That's what that statement by Davies was.

But there were stupid plot twists throughout.

Downright nonesense plotlines that were totally unnecessary, the most glaring of which were covered by Cargau already.

Ianto let's the SUV be stolen by mooning teenage brick throwing teenagers?


They have alien technology but no wiring requiring smart-keys to operate the vehicle?

Hoods can just pull out a couple of wires and steal a vehicle caring classified government hardware?

Antitheft devices available at dealerships to any Joe-Blo consumer since the 1990's if out of Torchwood's capability to acquire?

They apparently are tasked with acquiring and using alien technology to protect planet Earth but can't afford a lo-Jack system!?!


The idea that they had all this time to write and produce 5 hours worth of TV and came up with such so many idiot plot points and totally nonsensical twists is appalling.

And this made for great drama?

Only if you had no respect for the characters as they had been developed.

Only if you didn't care a bit about stupid plot holes like supposedly bombing and destroying the Hub which not only was the Team headquarters but was tasked with keeping the Rift stable and thereby the entire world safe.

Will Jack Harness come back?

They've trashed his character, so does it really matter?

You can debate how much damage was done to Jack's character from here to Sunday.

Lament and defend and support killing off of Ianto for all of eternity.

None of that changes the fact that we now have a Torchwood whose demoralized leader has abandoned them and the only official team leader is an adulteress, unfaithfull woman who thought it okay to threaten her husband to have an abortion in the presence of a buddy who had just joked about the kid not being his.

Who and what is there left to even care about at this point?

A cuckold husband that was dumb enough to marry a woman probably not fit to be a mother?
ted23 said…
@ChuckPR "fans thinking clearly" Uh, yeah, you proved that you're certainly thinking clearly... by writing a massive post in which you misspell the main character's name. Yeah, you've certainly proven yourself a fan of Torchwood. No one I know who saw CoE--many of which weren't at SDCC--loved the whole thing. Ianto is DEAD and this whole moronic shipper nonsense is what turns people off to your cause.
ChuckPR said…
"@ChuckPR "fans thinking clearly" Uh, yeah, you pro...
Today, July 27, 2009, 3 minutes ago | (ted23)
@ChuckPR "fans thinking clearly" Uh, yeah, you proved that you're certainly thinking clearly... by writing a massive post in which you misspell the main character's name. Yeah, you've certainly proven yourself a fan of Torchwood. No one I know who saw CoE--many of which weren't at SDCC--loved the whole thing. Ianto is DEAD and this whole moronic shipper nonsense is what turns people off to your cause."

First, I correspond with a lot of people both for work and pleasure. Please forgive me if I don't bother treating a comment on a Blog with the same level of error-correction and proof reading you feel is necessary.

"Ianto is DEAD and this whole moronic shipper nonsense is what turns people off to your cause."

I'll need a lot more explanation to know what you are even trying to discuss in this sentence,

especially the incomprehensible phrase of yours "this whole moronic shipper nonsense."

Maybe that means something in non-native English that you are not able to translate into English properly.

As to turning people off to my "cause."

Thank you for letting me know I had one.

Here I was thinking the point of this blog was to discuss CoE.

Disagree with me that the characters were maligned as written in CoE.

As to Ianto's death: his death was not the biggest problem I had with Davies.

If you read what I actually wrote (which, despite my admitted typos and misspellings, is written in clear English),

what I most objected to was the statement by Davies that it in some way made Jack's character more of hero.

Ianto's death might have served a purpose if written properly -

but the way it was written and especially the immediate way Jack Harkness broke down in the face of the enemy

-that was bad writing.

Agree or not, but Jack Harkness went completely out of character when he went from defying the enemy to sniveling coward in two seconds flat because he suddenly realised his latest in a long list of lovers was about to be snuffed.

He didn't know that everyone in the building, especially the guy standing next to him - the man making the challenge - was in immediate danger before he threw down the gaunlet?

Of course he would have, only a fool wouldn't have realized the possible consequences of what he was about to do.

And the poor writting painted him exactly that way. As both a fool for suggesting he didn't know he was endangering everyone around him, and also as a coward in how he instantly broke down when realizing what he should have expected as a tremendously likely outcome.

It would have been far more in character had he reacted the same way he did when he "sacrificed" his grandson.

Ianto being killed off could have been used well, but it became nothing more then another of the long list of poorly written twists that seem to have no regard for how the characters - as developed - would have reacted.

My other objections to other writing malignments of the characters as we have come to know them could go on and on.

There's also so many plot twists that were downright dumb, unnecessary, and didn't make sense.

But my main point was that when all is said and done, what is left to cheer for?

Nothing worth much in my opinion.

Maybe you can come up with a list of good things left that weren't besmirched or ruined by CoE.

I'd love to hear of some.

Plus, again, I'd like to find out what "this whole moronic shipper nonsense is what turns people off to your cause."

I've made sure that my phrases above are written in clear English, though I apologize again in advance if it turns out this post again contains a typo or mispelling.

If it does I'm sure you'll take that as some sort of proof that I was never a fan of pre-CoE Torchwood.

But I'm sure there are others who can read the points I've made and either agree or disagree with them - spell checking aside.
ted23 said…
@ChuckPR Do a Google search for "shipper" and you'll see exactly what I mean. If you don't, you've been living under a rock for the last ten years. Not in English, my ass. Get a clue, you pedantic moron.
Mazza said…
Thanks for the write up and for the videos, Jace. I'm firmly in the camp of people that loved Torchwood: CoE and even though it wasn't perfect thought that it was fantastic T.V.

I loved Ianto but really if anyone was going to get killed off in this it was going to be him. Sad but true. Jack can't die and no way would they kill off Gwen, esp. if she's pregnant.

Glad Davies has the courage to stand up for his rights as a creator and writer. You don't have to love his plot decisions but he has every right to make them.
ChuckPR said…
"ted23 // 7/27/2009
@ChuckPR Do a Google search for "shipper" and you'll see exactly what I mean. If you don't, you've been living under a rock for the last ten years. Not in English, my ass. Get a clue, you pedantic moron."

After reading an "Urban Dictionary" and a couple of Wikipedia entries,

it's now clear to me that you have absolutely no understanding of the English language.

Personally I found the "relationship"

I won't give ignorant fanboy slang the dignity of repeating the term,

in question Harkness/Ianto that was portrayed to have been more then a bit predatory in nature and was able to enjoy Torchwood in spite of it because in the paste the writers of the series handled it and other objectionable relationships, character actions in a realistic manner that didn't seem to be done for purely shock value.

I always thought that the relationship was tainted from the beginning by the fact that Ianto was placed in a vulnerable, subserviant position. If you remember correctly, his character before and after the loss of his fiancee was relagated to and seen as little more then a coffee boy and a goffer who had nowhere else to go but bury his pain in menial tasks.

His employer, Jack Harkness could well have been said to have taken advantage of that situation. Couples where there is that much disparity in power, options, that kind of relationship rarely works.

I've always thought that relationship would not have been seen anywhere near as positively had it merely been a case of a straight male boss developing a sexual relationship with a vulnerable female employee that had just lost her fiancee and had nowhere else to turn but her work for solace and to keep her mind off of her pain.

So if you somehow gleaned from my statements about CoE's bad writing that I was someone who cares about promoting the Ianto/Harkness relationship then you are truly a moron.

You obviously are one of those people who waste his time on snipping and moronic fanfiction,

and wouldn't know how to judge the difference between good and bad writing to save your life.

You can't dispute a single point I've made about the poor writing.

You're only meekly able to fling slang and insults around as if that proves anything.

The kind of performance one would see at the zoo, when chimps fling there own feces at people.

Again, please dispute any of the actual points I've made.

Come up with a list of good things left that weren't besmirched or ruined by CoE.

I'd love to hear of some.

But your mindless, pointless insults, and "the crowd loved it, you're in the minority" are the kind of statements that are truly moronic.
ChuckPR said…
"Mazza // 7/27/2009

Glad Davies has the courage to stand up for his rights as a creator and writer. You don't have to love his plot decisions but he has every right to make them."

You're right. The man has every right to make the decisions he did.

But as consumers, we also have every right to not like the product, either in whole or in part.

I for one, don't believe the characters as were developed, were done anything but harm and in fact trashed by CoE.

He has every right to drive the series into a brick wall if he wants to.

But blogs are here to discuss things, really.

I'd like to here some positive things that might come from CoE and possible positive directions Torchwood might go from here.

I think with the way they've disgraced the character of Jack Harkness and the fact that all they have left of Torchwood now is an abivalently pregnant adulteress there's not much left for people to be excited about.

But I might be wrong. Maybe someone out there can come up with some positive stuff.
ted23 said…
@ChuckPR "in question Harkness/Ianto that was portrayed to have been more then a bit predatory in nature and was able to enjoy Torchwood in spite of it because in the paste the writers of the series handled it and other objectionable relationships, character actions in a realistic manner that didn't seem to be done for purely shock value."

This paragraph makes absolutely no sense and appears to have been translated from some other language.

If you understood context at all and clearly you don't, you'd know that the term shipper is often used as a derogatory one. So yes it is "an ignorant fanboy slang" that's often turned on the very people that coined in the first place.

"abivalently pregnant adulteress"

The word you're looking for is "ambivalent." But you're also wrong about that as well. Gwen not only grew to accept her pregnancy but was hopeful for the future by the end of CoE. Or did that go over your thick head?

Like I said before, you are a pedantic moron. Get off your soapbox and stop drinking the Kool-Aid, okay?

Read any one of the zillion positive reviews - on this site even - and stop moaning about how Davies "disgraced" the series. It's getting old.
Anonymous said…
Couldn't Gwen and Rhys' child be snorted up by the 456 or another group in the future?
Anonymous said…
Are you serious? Gwen can't die because she's pregnant???

So, let me get this straight, Ianto is not valuable and can get killed off because he cannot get pregnant???

You realise that Gwen was pregnant because the writers WROTE her pregnancy?

And if they didn't make her pregnant then she would be expandable like Ianto???

Are you for real?

I loved Ianto but really if anyone was going to get killed off in this it was going to be him. Sad but true. Jack can't die and no way would they kill off Gwen, esp. if she's pregnant.
Anonymous said…
Look, this isn't all about Ianto. Yes, I'm sad he died, but I understand that Torchwood employees have a limited life expectancy. I'm not going to get over Jack killing his grandchild. That was monstrous, and I can't imagine again watching a show where something so horrifying could happen. It didn't make Jack "heroic," it made him a pathetic victim.

Davies said at SDCC that Jack is going to continue suffering. What sort of sick person is entertained by that? I certainly am not.
Unknown said…
I agree with you Chuck, and Ted you are a moron and you're still not actually responding to any specific point made.

The writers of CoE seemed to destroy everything built up over season 2. It ended with Jack's insane brother being put into storage in the Hub, an ending I didn't actually like, but there was that promise of him coming back and more of Jack's history being revealed. Also, besides the rift (which has been mentioned) all that space junk stored down there was (I thought) going to be important eventually. A lot of foreshadowing wasted.

After watching this video I guess I see the problem. RTD and co. decided they were creating a show about a single person, Jack, and that every other person on the show was only as useful as developing him. I thought I was watching an ensemble show. Where there is a lead but the secondary characters are still important, and while they can die without killing the show, they are certainly not disposable. The Torchwood team treated their deaths as only important for the impact on the central character.
In my opinion Torchwood struggled through season 1 because it depended too heavily on Jack to carry the show. It became better when the group dynamic was developed.
It just felt hollow, building up characters until they are likable and still complicated just to kill them off. And the girl who cheats on her supportive boyfriend and then drugs him and demands forgiveness gets to live.
I don't like Gwen enough to keep watching the show.
Andrew Byrne said…
The reason the Hub was destroyed is that the producers need the set to build a new Tardis for Series 5 of Doctor Who, or at least that's the rumour. The new Tardis is reportedly going to be much bigger than the current one and would not fit on the set which the current Tardis inhabits. Uk television can sometimes leave large gaps between series unlike the US which would have a series every year, it could be 18 months before we have any more torchwood. CofE was highly enjoyable and RTD can do what he likes as far as I'm concerned, it's his show and it doesn't matter to me if he kills everyone and starts from scratch.He wrote a very entertaining show which kept me on tenterhooks for a week. Bravo RTD

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