Torchwood - The
Children of Earth Ain't Misbehavin' --
Well, Maybe Just A Little...
Barrowman, Idol of Millions
2009 closed its weekend with one final high-profile panel.
After starting off the morning discussing Doctor Who
with David Tennant, Russell T. Davies, Julie Gardner, and
Euros Lyn returned to chat about the overwhelmingly successful
Children of Earth — but this time the superstar
who joined them was the always entertaining and flirtatious
panel started off with a discussion about the decision to
follow a different format for the third series of Torchwood.
Julie revealed that moving Torchwood onto BBC one,
the mainstream channel in the UK, was what prompted the
change from thirteen episodes to just five.
of the discussion for that move was how to make it feel
like a really big event. What type of story could we tell
across one week of transmission?”
as head writer, said that making the story “darker”
was never on the agenda. “We had to make it bigger.
We had to make it stronger. We had to make it work [on primetime].”
Little did he know that moving Torchwood to the
primetime channel in the country would triple the show’s
Russell didn’t set out to make it the number one show
for five nights. He actually spent most of the production
worrying and thinking “Oh, god, please let people
watch it.” It seemed the intensity of the five episodes
had come from the desperation to see the story succeed.
“If it hadn’t worked, it would’ve been
the end of Torchwood. So that’s where that
strength came from.”
reflects with Barrowman.
response in America to the show versus the response in the
UK, John said both have been brilliant. “We found
a second home, like I have. I’d do both countries.”
Immediately lots of loud snickering erupted from the crowd.
Russell let out a sigh while John just shook his head and
smirked. “And there was no pun intended either!”
I guess it’s sometimes difficult to be taken seriously
when you’re known for frequently doubling the entendre.
continued saying that Torchwood was very fortunate
to find a place on BBC America, but he was completely unprepared
for the intensity of the American audience’s reactions.
“It’s been like a massive tidal wave that’s
just overwhelmed us all a little bit. All I can say from
the bottom of my heart is thank you, thank you, thank you!”
Lyn talked about the challenge of directing a five-part
series that would air on consecutive nights. He reiterated
Russell’s point of aiming to put the show on a much
bigger scale. Working on a fairly limited budget called
for him to rely heavily on teamwork. Euros felt very lucky
to have such a fantastic cast and crew, as well as a very
supportive set of producers and executives. “I as
a director turned to them and relied on their input to make
the show work,” he concluded modestly.
but you were pretty damn good yourself,” added John.
“And he’s also very cute, isn’t he?”
embarrases Lynn everywhere.
John. Don’t you ever stop? Not that we’re asking
you to; but you can’t prevent your fans from falling
in the gutter as they howl with laughter when you mention
how you tried your hardest to embarrass Euros on set.
trying to be really good here today!” he exclaimed,
insisting that he’s trying to stay away from the double
entendres because his Comic-Con name card warned of
possible under-aged members in the audience. He then cheekily
points out that Torchwood is very adult, “So
get out… or stay and learn something.”
moderator tried to restore some order to the panel, but
not before John had his last say. “You know, you could
laugh too! You don’t have to take things so seriously…
because you’re also quite hot.” With one last
round of shameless spanking and a shout of “Go gay!”
John calmed down enough to continue the panel.
next question concerned the 456 alien and the decision to
not reveal the entire creature on screen. Russell explained
that hiding the alien from view was the plan from the beginning.
Since there were so many other creatures on film and television
already, “you’re not going to top them. You’re
not going to top what George Lucas or Peter Jackson is doing.”
Russell opted for the shoe-string budget approach: “Let’s
imagine it’s the 1960s and you can’t afford
something.” He relied on people’s fear of the
unknown to make the monster more sinister, and was very
adamant about keeping the monster out of sight. Editing
the footage with Euros had been a near nightmare because
at times they would see too much of the creature. Russell
did, however, confess to worrying about people saying “Well,
that was cheap” at the end of the week.
agreed that the mystery surrounding the 456 was essential.
“One of the most frightening bits was not being unable
to see the monster, but when you saw the child hanging inside
the cage.” Julie followed up with saying that the
real horror in that tank is the child, and no prosthetic
monster was going to be more horrible than that.
scares Captain Jack?
asked if Lois Habiba, wonderfully played by Cush Jumbo,
would be returning in any future episodes of Torchwood,
Russell was rather ambiguous himself. He was very wary about
calling her a replacement member on the Torchwood team.
“With Tosh and Owen gone, I hate the thought of Lois
taking Tosh’s place because that’s not like
life. People just don’t replace people in life. You
want to miss those gaps.” However, looking at the
spectacular response her character has received from both
viewers and creators of the show, Russell would definitely
not hesitate to work with Cush Jumbo again.
Barrowman went on to talk about the darker side of Captain
Jack Harkness. In the third series, we saw how much Captain
Jack was burdened by his past actions, particularly his
previous dealings with the 456. John feared that no one
would like Jack anymore once Jack’s culpability was
revealed, but he still defended the tough decisions Jack
had to make in order to save humanity. “Captain Jack
will do anything in his power to save the situation or humanity.”
John concluded that “as an actor, your objective is
the right one” — no matter how difficult it
was to film certain scenes, especially the final scene with
for fans NOT upset with Russell T. Davies...
the discussion of Captain Jack’s sacrifices, the moderator
finally brought up the subject of Ianto, eliciting a chorus
of boos aimed at Russell T. Davies. John quickly came to
his defense: “You can’t blame anybody really.
Remember it’s the excitement. And we always said in
the beginning, people die young in Torchwood.”
Julie Gardner, it was obvious that Ianto had to die at the
end of Day Four because it just felt right for the story.
There was no way he could have reached such a dark and heart-breaking
place at the end of the fourth episode without having experienced
a deep personal loss. “Captain Jack has to suffer…
it’s the cost of making Captain Jack a hero.”
the heckling would not die down, which prompted Russell
to firmly declare, “Nothing is going to change my
mind. No one’s bringing him back. Blame me all you
like. It’s my show.”
with that last comment, it was finally time open up the
panel to the audience. Someone asked the panel for their
opinions on Comic-Con. Russell still felt overwhelmed by
the massiveness of the con, while John found his second
time very enjoyable as well as educational. “I learned
a new word this year: Fangasm.” Euros
and Julie loved being utterly surrounded by the fans’
enthusiasm and sharing with them the passion for the show.
next question was about fans’ reactions to "Children
of Earth." John ashamedly admitted that once the episodes
were over, he and his sister would go on Twitter. He remembered
reading the Top Twitter Trends on the night of Ianto’s
death and was astonished to find that Ianto actually beat
out Michael Jackson.
likes the concept of the Fangasm.
great to see that you [the fans] have that kind of input
and that you have the same passion about the show that we
have about making it.” Even the BBC couldn’t
predict that the fan reaction would be so positively magnificent.
was a really great question on the differences between Captain
Jack on Torchwood and Captain Jack on Doctor
Who. John believed that Captain Jack was able to be
more fancy-free on Who because he was part of a
team where he’s not the leader: “The Doctor
is there to call the shots—and Jack usually ends up
Captain Jack had a lot more to carry on his shoulders and
was often challenged by his own team members. As Russell
put it, “Badly written television characters are always
the same. Well-written television characters can be different
in different circumstances—just like we all are in
thanked John for being so open about his sexuality. He confessed
that he initially did not set out to become a role model
for the gay community when he started working in the acting
industry. “But it’s happened and there comes
a point where you have to look at yourself and say ‘I
can make a difference or I can sit back and let it all happen.’
And I’m not the type to sit back and let it all happen.
[Captain Jack] represents who we all are.”
then called for more characters like Captain Jack on television,
though he acknowledged that more Barrowman might shake up
an American network. He had already caused a little bit
of a stir on BBC America. The censors had blurred out his
naked behind in Day Two. “My bum was too hot for the
TV over here.” Don’t worry, John. We’re
mourning the loss, too.
he SAYS there won't be a musical episode...
about a musical episode of Torchwood to shake up
the networks? “Nope. As much as my musical side would
love to do that,” John confessed. He did, however,
reveal that he rewrote the lyrics of “The Wizard and
I” (from Stephen Schwartz’s Wicked)
to “The Doctor and I”. So maybe we don’t
have to wait all that long for a few Torchwood/Doctor
Who show tunes.
the musical tangent, John apparently played a joke on Eve
Myles, who plays Gwen Cooper, during the mortuary scene
with Jack and Ianto covered by red sheets. When Eve pulled
back the sheet covering John, he had a big handlebar moustache
and proceeded to sing “Let me entertain you! Let me
make you smile!” Seriously, this guy never behaves,
does he? Then again, all the more fun for us.
possible that John Barrowman has infected his fans with
a musical theatre bug because the last question of the panel
was about his upcoming performance as Zaza in La Cage
Aux Folles. He was also asked to answer in a Scottish
accent. “If you want to see it, you better hurry because
it’s selling out very quickly. And if I may say so
myself, I look pretty damn good in a dress.”
on that very lively note, the panel ended and so did Comic-Con
2009 — for me, at least. A bunch of people stayed
in Ballroom 20 to watch the musical episode of Buffy
the Vampire Slayer, which Russell had previously described
as “unable to be topped” even by the likes of
for those of us who are still craving a little more Captain
Jack and the Torchwood team (or what’s left of it),
the DVD for "Children of Earth" has already been
released in stores. So if you haven’t seen the third
series yet, buy it now—and get ready to have your
insides twisted. Because that is what Torchwood
loves to do.