Torchwood is one of those series that probably would have never seen the light of day on American television. But the BBC has managed to create a thoughtful, challenging series that forces viewers to consider sometimes questionable or morally reprehensible acts in the context of science fiction. Since spinning off from the rebooted Doctor Who franchise, Torchwood has survived two seasons and has now come out with the Children of Earth mini-season.
To provide a bit of background, Torchwood deals primarily with extraterrestrial incidents in the U.K. An organization known as the Torchwood Institute investigates ET activity and tries to find alien technologies to use itself to further investigate incidents and protect the Earth.
This is not like the original Doctor Who series nor the rebooted version. Torchwood is more extreme in many ways than any other science fiction I have ever seen. It brings in gay relationships, nudity, violence, and some of the most brilliant, challenging stories ever brought to sci-fi television.
By the time of this mini-season, the cast has changed slightly through attrition. Characters die in Torchwood somewhat regularly, including at the end of season two. So when Children of Earth begins, we're left with Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles), and Ianto Jones (Gareth David-Lloyd) as our Torchwood team. I would highly recommend that you find the seasons one and two to catch up on what's happened so far prior to seeing this, but it's not essential viewing in order to understand and enjoy the mini-season.
At the beginning of Children of Earth, children around the world suddenly stop where they are and begin screaming. A few moments later, they go back to normal like nothing had happened, with no memory of the event. This action repeats itself several times until all the children chant "We are coming."
This is an alien invasion story, but not one like we've seen before. Without spoiling the surprise, I'll say that the sins of the past come back to haunt a number of people. What blew me away was how shocking, yet realistic, the behavior of the individuals in positions of power seem to be. These are men and women in the highest echelons of government and the military who are making impossibly difficult moral choices.