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How good is the new 'Torchwood'? Find out!

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How good is the new 'Torchwood'? Find out!
Bloody Torchwood! They've kept us waiting ages for their new adventures following the emotional overload of the brilliant second season. But now that the hankies have dried and Owen and Tosh are but distant memories, is Torchwood: Children Of Earth worth the upgrade to BBC One? Well, we've seen the first three episodes and it's highly impressive. Read on for our spoiler-light verdict...

The amazing opening episode 'Day One' hits the ground running, beginning with a mysterious event in 1965 Scotland before zapping forward to the present day and some possessed children. With the move to BBC One hopefully bringing in a broader audience, Russell T Davies's script economically and seamlessly manages to re-establish the show's trio of surviving regular characters for new viewers without alienating the existing fans. In particular, Jack and Ianto's hospital-based introduction - involving a very nasty hitchhiker blended with some light-hearted banter - is a delight to watch. Twin Peaks fans should keep their eyes peeled for a damn fine in-joke involving an estate agent too.

Evoking the great Quatermass adventures, the episode generates a terrific amount of suspense with the impending arrival of an alien entity on Earth. Just what are they, what do they want and why are they using the world's children, in a sequence of chilling scenes, to announce their intentions? Possible answers gradually emerge, although the second episode does shift the main focus towards the British government's devious exploits and a fight for survival for the Torchwood crew. Liz May Brice is compelling as the uber-mean bitch baddie who makes it her mission to scrap Jack. For a ruthless assassin, she certainly sets the pulse racing!

Creating believable and appealing supporting characters has been RTD's forte in recent years, and 'Children Of Earth' doesn't disappoint. A young NHS Doctor called Rupesh is a seemingly harmless addition, eager to please Captain Jack; a troubled man with a highly disturbed past called Timothy White, played by the ever dependable Paul Copley, generates plenty of pathos; and a Home Office PA called Lois stumbles across something very shocking indeed on her computer - a blank page of all things! All these characters are cleverly interwoven into the plot, although they might not all be what they seem.

At times, 'Day Two' does pale in comparison to the opening instalment, which bears one of the most explosive and ingenious cliffhangers in the history of the Whoniverse. But while the foot is taken off the gas and the various plot threads are not balanced well enough, the episode does allow us some precious time with Deputy Andy, Gwen's bloke Rhys, Ianto's family and someone very precious to Captain Jack - thankfully not his wooden brother Gray.

The fiery arrival of an alien visitor in 'Day Three' is expertly handled by director Euros Lyn. It's a lesson in establishing and sustaining suspense, as we are given quick flashes of what creature is lurking in the mist, accompanied by some horrific sound effects. The power of imagination really takes a horrifying grip while we wait for the grand reveal... which never comes! Well, not until the BBC lets us get our grubby little mitts on 'Day Four'.

Packed full of sparkling lines ("Have you gone bender?"), stunning twists, deep emotions dealing with Jack's immortality and some corking action sequences involving Ianto and a JCB, Torchwood: Children Of Earth is an exciting, funny and creepy enterprise over its first three episodes. It's not perfect, though, as the second and third episodes don't fully capitalise on the masterpiece that is 'Day One'. Despite many inspired moments, there is the nagging feeling that the plot is being stretched too much to fill time when we'd rather devour a Deep Pan than a Thin Crust.

Overall, the shortened third season of Torchwood looks like it's hurtling towards a thrilling final two hours. There's certainly an epic, global feel to the plot - bolstered by the appearance of a familiar American newsreader - and this feels like real event television and deserves to be a success. Just wait until you see the jaw-dropping revelation at the end of 'Day Three'. Someone's been a naughty boy...

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