25 July 2009

Flawed heroes and ruthless women

OK, I just spent every evening this past week enthralled by the Torchwood miniseries, Children of Earth. For those who missed this beautifully crafted, chilling science fiction tale, it involved an alien race coming to the earth and demand 10 percent of the planet's children. Otherwise, the aliens would destroy everyone.

Rather than show worldwide reaction to such a demand, the show centered on Thames House and how the UK government handled the crisis (it is a BBC show, after all). Let's say the government didn't handle it well, first trying to destroy the Torchwood team, which could have helped them, and then deciding to give children to the aliens.

As a writer, I'm in awe of how the creators, led by Russell T. Davis, managed to weave a gripping action, end-of-the-world tale into a philosophical exploration of past sins (and it does appear that the road to hell is paved with good intentions), while playing with the old axiom: women protect children; men protect the tribe.

By bouncing between Captain Jack Harkness, Torchwood leader, and mild-mannered bureaucrat, Ferbisher, he showed how men-of-action make wrong decisions and how men-of-inaction make the same wrong decision. He also wrote strong, complicated women into the series, showing how very ruthless the female of our species can be.

If you didn't get a chance to watch the mini-series, I'm sure the BBC America will repeat it. And it's available on iTunes.

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