David Hines (hradzka) wrote,
David Hines


The news has broken that TORCHWOOD is coming to American TV, with Russell T. Davies very actively involved. There's been some fannish concern and speculation about this, much of it in a "what the heck is going on here?" vein. Admittedly, RTD has a lot more time on his hands now that he's not showrunning DOCTOR WHO, but why is he doing this particular thing?

Russell T. Davies is a propagandist. This is not a pejorative statement: propaganda is an essential part of politics, and every civil society has and at some level needs its own propaganda (as is true of any cohesive group, but the larger the group the more it needs it). The irony is that, of course, the word "propaganda" is so nyekulturny these days that the chief way people in civil societies target their enemies' propaganda is to dismiss it out of hand *as* propaganda. But propaganda has real and valid uses, as Davies, a dedicated activist and propagandist for gay rights, clearly knows. He doesn't just limit it to his writing; in interviews, he takes care to mention the fact that he's gay, and talk about gay issues, just in case there's anybody hasn't heard about it. In his email exchanges with Benjamin Cook, collected in DOCTOR WHO: THE WRITER'S TALE, Davies explains that this is a deliberate strategy, part of his personal activism. Davies is looking for ways to increase gay visibility everywhere, by means implicit and explicit.

My bet is that that's why he's doing the American TORCHWOOD, and that John Barrowman is going to be heavily, heavily involved. Why? Because Russell T. Davies sees his chance to put a sexually active bisexual man, played by an openly gay man, into American prime time as a starring hero, and he's going for it. My guess is that TORCHWOOD AMERICA or whatever they wind up calling it (my bet: it'll be straight-up TORCHWOOD, and a coproduction) will be a short-form series for American television, with the intent of having a queer male action hero who actually gets laid in prime time on American TV.

It is an irresistable propaganda opportunity, and I can't blame RTD for wanting to do it on those grounds -- hell, yeah, Rusty! Go for it! My only question is what kind of stories Uncle Rusty is going to do, because the real problem facing this particular Big Step Forward is that TORCHWOOD is a mostly unmitigated pile of shit. Its plots are moronic, its heroes are completely incompetent, and its storylines have been, until "Children of Earth," so staggeringly stupid that one comes away feeling dumber for the viewing. ("Children of Earth" had its flaws, but it was so much better than TORCHWOOD in general that it was like watching two completely different shows, as if TORCHWOOD's characters had somehow gotten lost and blundered into the wrong show by mistake, which they're absolutely stupid enough to do.) But Davies, though he unquestionably peaked with DOCTOR WHO to the point that he was writing a fair bit of crud toward the end, turned in some remarkably strong work in "Children of Earth." Like Joss Whedon, when he's on his game he's garking amazing; when he's off it, he's a car wreck. The question about the American TORCHWOOD is: which RTD is going to show up? The answer is likely to have implications for when we see the second queer male action hero in prime time on American TV.
Tags: torchwood

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