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Torchwood: Children of Earth (Miniseries Spoilers)


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#41 OFFLINE   olguy

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 05:25 PM

Yeah, phrelin. What LOCODUDE said.
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#42 OFFLINE   phrelin

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 03:10 PM

I've been puzzling over my inability to find discussion from both critics and fans about the dark political/social (and individual in the case of Jack and Frobisher) morality "logic theme" presented by the 456.

Fans of the series seem crushed by the death of the popular character Ianto and the dark turn taken by Captain Jack Harkness in the unusually dark story line.

For me the crux of the story relates to the belief by an alien species that humans are, in fact and with a great deal of irony, "inhuman" meaning "lacking qualities of sympathy, pity, warmth, compassion, or the like; cruel; brutal" particularly in regard to our own species. The 456 want 10% of the Earth's children. When an objection is raised by Captain Jack, the 456 response is “but you’re letting children die every day; why would you mind this?” They offer statistics we all know but don't seem care about. Over 25,000 children die every day around the world. That is equivalent to:
  • 1 child dying every 3.5 seconds
  • 17-18 children dying every minute
  • Over 9 million children dying every year
  • Some 70 million children dying between 2000 and 2007
Our children (the alien assumes "our" because we are a single species) die of hunger, easily preventable diseases and illnesses, and other poverty related causes. In spite of the scale of this ongoing catastrophe, humanity does nothing to solve a problem that could be solved simply by reallocating half the accumulated wealth from North America, Europe and Japan which would by all human historical standards still leave the people in those three areas incredibly wealthy.

Given this inhuman nature of our species, an alien species that appears to be able to kill us all merely wants 10% of our children. We are presented with a meeting of elected and appointed officials discussing criteria for selecting children based on their desirability, which concluded. as such a meeting would, that most would be chosen from the poor all for the good of society as a whole.

This shouldn't be too disturbing because the Nazi's in fact did hold the Wannsee Conference to establish criteria for the processes of the "final solution" and in fact most of the foot soldiers in most armies around the world who are sent to kill and die for the good of their nation are mostly the poor.

It would seem so logical to an alien observing humanity over time that we could select 10% of our children to give to aliens for the good of the remainder of humanity. Day in and day out as a species the richest societies buy iPods while far more than 10% of human young die from preventable causes.

In Britain the one frequent fan criticism of the show is that somehow the writers were trying to write a Shakespearean tragedy. Personally, I thought it was more akin to the tragedies of the ancient Greek myths.

Like those myths, it was a modern morality tale with it's flawed hero. But somehow I think it failed to stir the type of discussion one might expect.

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#43 OFFLINE   Stewart Vernon

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 10:15 PM

One problem, in my mind... was that the 456 presented it as if it was an either-or situation.

Either we give them 10% OR kids would be dying every day anyway.

The truth is that the 10% given to the 456 would not necessarily be part of the kids that would have died that day anyway... and in fact, likely would not be given the methodology used to get the kids (the scenes of kids being ripped away from parents by military, indicates kids that while poor and perhaps underachieving were loved and cared for)...

So, the giving of 10% wouldn't have been the 10% that might have also died under normal circumstances, but instead in addition to it.

So while much of the show was scary in its closeness to "what if" in a real-world scenario... it really wasn't an either-or choice.

Also disappointing that there really wasn't much of a fight put up against them. In 1965, capitulation was purely voluntary. In 2009 a handful of people in a building that was secured from escape died from an unknown virus that perhaps could have been cured given time. In an actual war against the 456, who knows hoe much better humanity might have fared. Also, Jack was able to frighteningly easily and simply turn them away once he spent a few minutes actually thinking about it.

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#44 OFFLINE   phrelin

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 12:09 AM

One problem, in my mind... was that the 456 presented it as if it was an either-or situation.

Either we give them 10% OR kids would be dying every day anyway.

The truth is that the 10% given to the 456 would not necessarily be part of the kids that would have died that day anyway... and in fact, likely would not be given the methodology used to get the kids (the scenes of kids being ripped away from parents by military, indicates kids that while poor and perhaps underachieving were loved and cared for)...

So, the giving of 10% wouldn't have been the 10% that might have also died under normal circumstances, but instead in addition to it.

So while much of the show was scary in its closeness to "what if" in a real-world scenario... it really wasn't an either-or choice.

That is the way we view it. But from a logical standpoint a 456 might not understand why we just wouldn't give them the kids that would die anyway. Or give them "some kids" and thereby free up resources to save the rest, or buy more iPhones, the 456 don't care. It's all about choices as a species, not as artificially created, and biologically irrelevant, nations. Initially the number was just 10% of the world's children. When we balked, they put it into the logical form we understand - 10% from each nation. One thing that surprised me, and it may have been a time constraint, is that the show didn't explore the "what if" of one nation refusing.

Also disappointing that there really wasn't much of a fight put up against them. In 1965, capitulation was purely voluntary. In 2009 a handful of people in a building that was secured from escape died from an unknown virus that perhaps could have been cured given time. In an actual war against the 456, who knows how much better humanity might have fared. Also, Jack was able to frighteningly easily and simply turn them away once he spent a few minutes actually thinking about it.

Historically, most of what humans have feared and hated as a species is "the other" of our own species. It seems we instinctively divide along family, class, tribal and national lines thinking we are protecting "our own". In this show, it was clearly family and class that mattered more than mankind as a whole.

Enter the tragically flawed hero who acting against instinct saves all mankind, but at great sacrifice to himself - the sacrifice of his family line.

Of course, we have to suspend disbelief. It is television and it is science fiction, after all. But most of the world's tragic myths require the same. And unless the show's producers have advanced knowledge that they'll have 300 hours in which to tell the story, most things just go unexplored.

"In a hundred years there'll be a whole new set of people."
"Always poke the bears. They sleep too much for their own good."

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#45 OFFLINE   Stewart Vernon

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 03:18 PM

That was sort of where I was going... the 10% to be given were going to be pulled from the "less important" section of society without regard to viability. In truth, to make such a decision when weighed against kids who wouldn't survive anyway... they should have made the choice to first sacrifice children with terminal illnesses, for example.

Mind you, I'm not advocating it in a real world scenario... Just from the pure-logic point of view that would have followed pure-logic.

The end-result, is that people in the show did what people do... protect themselves and others be damned... so it was realistic on that point, unfortunately... I was just pointing out the logic flaw that if the argument was "why not give kids since a bunch would die anyway" then that only works if you give away those kids first... then you'd be sacrificing without affecting the mortality rate and a "win win" within the confines of the show.

The blurry moral argument there being... Is it wrong to kill a dying kid to save the world? Some would argue that if it saves the world, and the kid would die anyway... why not. Not saying that's my choice... but in a show like Torchwood, it would probably seem like a rational conclusion.

Like in movies where the guy with terminal cancer sacrifices his life to save someone... he knows he was going to die anyway, and makes his death mean something by saving someone else.

At the end of the day, of course, it's just TV :) And it was entertaining, and definitely one of those "something happens that changes everything" type of stories.

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#46 OFFLINE   CoriBright

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 09:50 PM

My BluRay disks arrived today :) I think a marathon may be happening here tomorrow. Or should that be a TWoodathon?

Don't forget, if Law & Order UK doesn't work out, we've still also got Martha, personally I thought she was rather disappointing in L&O UK, and would be much better back in TW. Did no one go to ComicCon in San Diego? RTD was there answering questions on TW and DW.
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#47 OFFLINE   djlong

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 10:31 PM

First off, children dying is not a resource allocation problem. It's a distribution problem. Things like warlords preventing aid workers from distributing food. But that's as far as I'l go politically in this thread.

The problem I had was about the 'collection process'.

Tell me - is the UK military filled with such automatons that they would not rebel against such an order? We saw, to use phrases that right-wing radio likes to use, jack-booted thugs taking away children. Does not the British soldier have a conscience?

Also, there should have been a story line about how the U.S. was WAY under quota. Why? We are an armed society. If the military or anyone else started rounding up children - you bet your bottom dollar that there's be rioting and gunfire on a massive scale. Every survivalist would be arming his neighbors while screaming "I told you so!".

#48 OFFLINE   Stewart Vernon

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 10:50 PM

djlong,

good points. I gather the UK military was "in the dark" and perhaps were told they were taking children under duress for the good of the children for those "vaccinations"...

I remember being in a hospital emergency room as a kid (probably around 10 or so years old) and we did not have a family doctor yet, hence the emergency room for the high fever I was running... so they wanted to take blood and I hated needles.

I ripped the lining out of my father's dress coat (I was wearing because of being cold) and it took several adult males to hold me down so they could get the blood sample to diagnose me.

From my perspective as a child, a horrible violation! From my parents and the doctors/nurses perspective, I was running a 104 degree fever and it was very much necessary to do what they needed to do to find out what was wrong. (Long story short, I had Strep Throat and obviously I survived the experience)

The point being... it'd be very easy to lie and get most people to go along with the "we need to cure the weird thing that the children have been doing" as portrayed in the show.

In fact, I'd go so far as to say that IF they had gone even more public with that info, and not been so secretive... they might have gotten even more cooperation from the populace with that lie.

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#49 OFFLINE   Drew2k

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Posted 02 August 2009 - 11:14 AM

Can a moderator please rename this thread to Torchwood: Children of Earth (Miniseries Spoilers) ? Otherwise some unsuspecting Torchwood fan could easily be spoiled thinking this is just a generic discussion thread. Thanks.

#50 OFFLINE   Drew2k

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Posted 02 August 2009 - 11:24 AM

I finished watching this in HD last night (thank you Blu-ray!) and really enjoyed it. I was a little disappointed the BD did not include the five 15-minute "Inside Look" specials that BBCA aired. It had Torchwood Declassified but there was information in the Inside Look (such as discussion of the future of the Torchwood series) that was not in Declassified.

I noted a few inconsistencies that momentarily took me out of the story (Johnson's team could immediately trace phone calls made by Alice, Ianto and Gwen, but could not immediately trace Jack's phone call; People on the ground floor of the MI5 building died before Ianto and Jack at the source and before Dekker did; that the time it took for Jack to resurrect varied for no apparent reason: gunshot = 2 minutes; concrete suffocation = 30 seconds; virus = several hours apparently) but I still really, really enjoyed it.

It's a shame Ianto is not coming back - it would have been so much fun to see a continuation of the "are we a couple or not" plot - but as Davies said a significant death was needed to convey properly that this was a tragedy all the way around. I'll miss Ianto, but the story was better for his passing.

Now I'm just hoping the BBC wants to make another series ...

#51 OFFLINE   Stuart Sweet

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Posted 02 August 2009 - 03:27 PM

Thread title changed at Drew's request. Thanks, Drew!
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#52 OFFLINE   The Merg

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Posted 02 August 2009 - 06:00 PM

I finished watching this in HD last night (thank you Blu-ray!) and really enjoyed it. I was a little disappointed the BD did not include the five 15-minute "Inside Look" specials that BBCA aired. It had Torchwood Declassified but there was information in the Inside Look (such as discussion of the future of the Torchwood series) that was not in Declassified.

I noted a few inconsistencies that momentarily took me out of the story (Johnson's team could immediately trace phone calls made by Alice, Ianto and Gwen, but could not immediately trace Jack's phone call; People on the ground floor of the MI5 building died before Ianto and Jack at the source and before Dekker did; that the time it took for Jack to resurrect varied for no apparent reason: gunshot = 2 minutes; concrete suffocation = 30 seconds; virus = several hours apparently) but I still really, really enjoyed it.

It's a shame Ianto is not coming back - it would have been so much fun to see a continuation of the "are we a couple or not" plot - but as Davies said a significant death was needed to convey properly that this was a tragedy all the way around. I'll miss Ianto, but the story was better for his passing.

Now I'm just hoping the BBC wants to make another series ...


I agree with you as well about how the series went. Which phone call from Jack are you referring? I don't think they immediately traced Ianto's and Gwen's calls either, although it was fairly quick.

As for Ianto taking so long to die, I looked at it that the virus was released into the ventilation system in some way and not in the room where the 456 was. Remember the case the 456 was in was supposedly completely sealed off.

In regards to Jack's ressurection, I looked at it that his ressurection time depended on how long his body needed to repair the damage. With regards to the virus, his body would have needed to clean the virus out of every part of his body that it had seeped into so it would take quite a bit longer than when he got shot or if he was suffocated.

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#53 OFFLINE   jadebox

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Posted 02 August 2009 - 07:06 PM

The crawling message on the bottom of the screen in Day 2 was annoying, irritating and very distracting. Whoever decided to do that during the premire event should be shot! By now, almost everyone knows that BBCA HD is available. I don;t need a crawling message telling me to contact my cable provider as a reminder. It was on several times in that hour. Is more than once really necessary?


That and the animated ads on the bottom of the screen convinced me that I don't care if we get BBC America in HD or not. I'm not going to watch the channel any more. Fortunately, it looks like Doctor Who and Torchwood come to DVD shortly after being shown on BBC America.

I thought the Torchwood mini-series was very good, but I liked the lighter, hour-long stand-alone episodes better.

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Edited by jadebox, 02 August 2009 - 07:14 PM.


#54 OFFLINE   Mr_Bester

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 07:20 AM

I don't know if it "really" matters, but when they traced Ianto's call, he called a landline. I doubt that would really help, but that may be their "workaround" in the writers room...
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#55 OFFLINE   frederic1943

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 07:10 PM

BBC America is bragging that they had 3.3 million viewers for TW: COE. They get that number by adding together all the viewers for each day as though everybody watched one day only.
They also bragged that they had more viewers than MSNBC, Animal Planet, Bravo, BET, Travel, Oxygen, Hallmark, TV Land, Soap, MTV, E!, WE, or Headline News.:lol:

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#56 OFFLINE   dreadlk

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Posted 12 August 2009 - 06:42 PM

I just watched it.
In the shortest possible review let me say this was the best written Scifi story (on TV) that I have ever watched! It was so real that it kept me glued to the set for every minute of it!
No Black, No White it was the all the grey colors that surround every real life event.
Bravo for Torchwood.

#57 OFFLINE   dreadlk

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Posted 12 August 2009 - 06:59 PM

I have been in a few hairy situations in third world countries and I have seen first hand what people will do to survive. I would say to people, dont believe for a second that you and I are any better than these people and what I have learned from all of this is that people can rationalize anything when their lives or childrens lives are on the line. People will hand over one child to a group of soldiers to save another.
Its very easy to talk about what we would do or how we think people would behave and thats because luckily most of us will never be faced with making this decision nor do we know anybody who has been faced with the decision.

In WWII i have heard that some Jewish families faced this same situation, they could smuggle out only one or two family members and had to decide who would live and who would die.


That is the way we view it. But from a logical standpoint a 456 might not understand why we just wouldn't give them the kids that would die anyway. Or give them "some kids" and thereby free up resources to save the rest, or buy more iPhones, the 456 don't care. It's all about choices as a species, not as artificially created, and biologically irrelevant, nations. Initially the number was just 10% of the world's children. When we balked, they put it into the logical form we understand - 10% from each nation. One thing that surprised me, and it may have been a time constraint, is that the show didn't explore the "what if" of one nation refusing.
Historically, most of what humans have feared and hated as a species is "the other" of our own species. It seems we instinctively divide along family, class, tribal and national lines thinking we are protecting "our own". In this show, it was clearly family and class that mattered more than mankind as a whole.

Enter the tragically flawed hero who acting against instinct saves all mankind, but at great sacrifice to himself - the sacrifice of his family line.

Of course, we have to suspend disbelief. It is television and it is science fiction, after all. But most of the world's tragic myths require the same. And unless the show's producers have advanced knowledge that they'll have 300 hours in which to tell the story, most things just go unexplored.






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