Chris Chibnall says Torchwood’s “lost” its essence

February 12th, 2013
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...

Chris Chibnall has said that he feels Torchwood lost some of its character when it left its “brilliantly odd” Welsh roots.

The spin off’s fourth series Miracle Day was filmed and set in America as part of the BBC co-production deal with US network Starz. Chris served as the series head writer for its first two years and has told Starburst that Jack and Gwen’s adventures just weren’t the same across the pond… “I think somewhere along the way it lost a little bit of its Torchwood-ness,” he explained.

He continued: “Whether you like or dislike Torchwood, it has an essence of madness and cheekiness and sexiness and fun and darkness. Somehow it lost a bit of that somewhere in the process. It might go back to the fact that one of the great essences of Torchwood was taking the American tropes and doing them in Wales – it became like other shows.”

Above – The original Torchwood team (2006) alongside its latest incarnation (2011).

He admitted that he is doubtful there will be another series following Miracle Day’s mixed response. “It is entirely down to Russell, but I would expect he’ll have other things he’ll want to write,” he said. “There was a lot of pain involved making the first two series but it makes me smile what we achieved. Russell had a family show and an adult show and a kid’s show which were very separate entities woven together so cleverly. I don’t think you’ll again see the Doctor Who universe be as all-encompassing. It was a magic time.”

Torchwood’s future is “in limbo”, but discuss where you would like it to go next here

20 comments on this article
  1. JC
    February 13th, 2013 at 12.03am | #1

    I agree with much of what he said, except when he said:

    “Somehow it lost a bit of that (essence of madness, cheekiness, sexiness, fun and darkness) somewhere in the process”

    It lost A LOT of what made Torchwood what it was. I own the first three series on DVD, but I know I’ll be very unlikely to buy Miracle Day, perhaps never.

  2. Sunny
    February 13th, 2013 at 3.15pm | #2

    As a huge Torchwood fan I tried to watch Miracle Day, I really tried, but it was a painful experience. The label says there’s Torchwood inside, but that’s deceptive packaging.

  3. Marzipan
    February 13th, 2013 at 3.49pm | #3

    Well, when he killed off three main characters and made it all about Jack and Gwen, that was a huge canon volley right through the heart of the show. Removing it from the Hub might have been meant to distance itself from the memories of those characters. If so, they hit the nail on the head and into the lid of the coffin on this show.

    Whatever else happened was just postmortum injuries.

  4. Heather
    February 13th, 2013 at 4.00pm | #4

    This is what a lot of fans have been saying.

  5. Jenn
    February 13th, 2013 at 4.53pm | #5

    Torchwood lost its way when it killed off Owen, Tosh and Ianto. Torchwood was a team. I was never interested in The Gwen Cooper Show, let alone The Gwen Cooper Show: American Style

  6. Kimberly
    February 13th, 2013 at 6.25pm | #6

    I miss the original torchwood. I bought miracle day but couldn’t watch past the fourth episode. It just was not the same. Without Owen, tosh, and ianto, you dont have torchwood. You have a shell of what it was. My question is why did they get killed off? There was so much more that could have been done. If you can write 7 seasons of doctor who, you can write more than 2 seasons of Torchwood. But that’s just me.

  7. icerose
    February 13th, 2013 at 7.49pm | #7

    yes i think that is what alot of fans have been saying-in some ways as good as it was it started with COE when charactors seem to take giant leaps in charactor developement and the focus went off Torchwood and on to social commenatary and political morality themes-in the old series they were touched on just not with a sledgehammer approach.Sad really I use to love that showa and it’s cast.

  8. reema
    February 13th, 2013 at 9.47pm | #8

    liked the show all of it, yes it was darker in the last two series but brilliant. A bout killing Owen, Tosh and Ianto, we always knew members of Torchwood die young, but i hoped if they have brought new characters, not to replace the first team but to light the show a little bit . And yes the characters changed in the last series , but how can you expect them to be the same when they are have been taken from their usual surroundings.
    l loved the show and i hope for more.

  9. Mephititdae
    February 13th, 2013 at 10.11pm | #9

    Torchwood was always a show that was a little campy and had big plot holes, but, hey, it was “Aliens?In Cardiff???” and you gotta love that. Plus they had a few very awesome characters. Sadly within a few episodes all of the interesting characters died, leaving us with Jack, who turned into something I could no longer even feel sorry for and Gwen, probably the worst Mary Sue that has been written in the history of television. I still wish they would have kept Suzie instead. Maybe it could have become something that’s worth my time again, if the new characters would have been anything good, but they were boring and bloodless. Add to that that the storyline was even more ridiculous then usual and the plotholes big enough to fly a whole planet through them smoothly.
    I remember Russell Davies saying that the fans who complained about Iantos death should get lost and go watch Supernatural, probably not the smartest move. I think Supernatural airing season 8 now and it’s likely that there’ll be a season 9.
    Sorry but if you want to play with the big boys you have to deliver better stuff and value and respect your fans.

  10. fandomgirl
    February 13th, 2013 at 10.56pm | #10

    Yep. Supernatural was just renewed for a ninth season and how many times has there been more than a few months between Torchwood shows??? RTD really should have taken a cue from Eric Kripke… Even when the fandom of Supernatural complains or doesn’t like something we STILL tune in faithfully each week. Because we KNOW that the crap stuff will be balanced out by epically GREAT stuff.

    I used to wish for Torchwood’s return but now I eagerly anticipate my Supernatural. RTD told us to go watch it. Best advice he ever gave.

  11. maxi
    February 14th, 2013 at 3.30pm | #11

    I knew Chibnall was the brains of the outfit…

  12. Ray
    February 14th, 2013 at 5.10pm | #12

    Now more than ever, I’m convinced that, if Chris Chibnall had been left in charge of Torchwood, we’d be on series five or six by now, even if it was on his watch that Owen and Toshiko died. We might still at least have Ianto and Jack wouldn’t be the unsympathetic character he became starting in CoE and ending in MD.

    Although, I wouldn’t have minded less Gwen.

  13. Calli Arcale
    February 14th, 2013 at 5.45pm | #13

    I really liked “Miracle Day”, but it was definitely a different sort of story. Also, starting with “Children of Earth”, I think they drifted too far from Who. It’s no longer possible to fit them into the same universe, and that’s a real shame.

  14. Laura
    February 14th, 2013 at 6.13pm | #14

    Chibnall is one of the few names left in the Torchwood world that doesn’t cause tension or bad vibes. As someone who liked the first two series, and not three and four, it’s gratifying to see that someone I’ve always liked agrees with me. This is particularly true for me, because his work on Torchwood appears to be some of my favorite elements of the show. I think anytime a writer or creative person’s work “speaks” to you, you start to think you understand each other – that because you relate to the work, you’ve been understood in some abstract / distant way (i.e. “someone else thinks like I do”). The direction Torchwood took certainly made me feel like I was wrong about that, and it means more than it should to me that I wasn’t wholly incorrect.
    Thank you for what you did, sir.

    As far as a direction Torchwood might take, I’d like a return to seasons 1 and 2 (much like Chibnall). In particular, the return of the rest of cast, especially Ianto, is right up there with returning to Cardiff for me.

  15. Laura
    February 14th, 2013 at 6.15pm | #15

    I suspected it, and now I feel certain.

  16. Laura
    February 14th, 2013 at 6.16pm | #16

    Chibnall for president of Torchwood!

  17. Calli Arcale
    February 14th, 2013 at 7.19pm | #17

    That’s a really good point, that killing off Owen, Tosh, and Ianto (especially Ianto — jeez, what did he do to deserve that?) would’ve been much easier to take if they’d replaced them. I suppose they sort of did; Rhys stepped into the void, and then on Miracle Day they added a couple of Americans, but it wasn’t the same. I would’ve preferred more seasons in the original formula before wrenching it out of the Whoniverse like they did.

  18. Cat
    February 15th, 2013 at 4.09pm | #18

    I agree. Everything that made Torchwood “Torchwood” was either shot, poisoned (is that how we should describe an alien fart?) or blown up!

    With the Who-verse “reset” in the Big Bang, I would love to see a “reset” of Torchwood, with the return of the Hub, the origianl cast – at the very least Ianto….but, Tosh would be a nice extra treat as well and even the SUV…all set back in Cardiff where it belongs.

  19. Grace
    February 25th, 2013 at 5.37am | #19

    I believe Torchwood could rebuild itself out of the ashes.

    Part of what made Torchwood special was the fact that it was about the team! There were no stars just lots of shining points. People were fallible sometimes and unbelievably courageous during other times. It could be that way again with just a little help. One, let’s all agree Miracle Day was a bad dream Jack had and let’s never speak of it again!

    Once we put MD behind us lets get back to Cardiff and let’s deal with the alien races coming to the UK through the rift! We can add new team members along the way and maybe even a villian or two. In no time flat Torchwood could be awesome again and I for one can’t wait for it to happen!

  20. Kate
    March 6th, 2013 at 2.30am | #20

    I basically liked Miracle Day – the premise was interesting, and it was handled (mostly) really nicely – but I agree with what he’s saying about it losing what made it special. Torchwood is Torchwood because it’s so Welsh. So while I enjoyed the little sojourn across the pond, I would now like to see it go back home, and build up from the ashes. Without Rex. He’s just too American for words.

    As for the deaths of key characters, hard as that made me cry, it felt right. It was about pushing the show to its limits, and it worked well. In a show like Torchwood, a dark period is perfectly fitting. However, to continue with the show, you’ve got to move out of the dark period. After CoE and MD, I’d like to see the show return to the style of series 1 & 2.

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