Torchwood: Children of Earth – Happy tenth anniversary to a controversial series

Today marks ten years since the broadcast of Torchwood: Children of Earth’s first episode. We look back on what made it so different to what came before, and why it continues to stand out today.

Children of Earth was a game-changer for Torchwood. The first two series had been hugely popular, and we had even seen the show crossover into its parent series in the brilliant Doctor Who episodes The Stolen Earth and Journey’s End just a year before.

But for its third series, the show went through a radical transformation. Torchwood was moved from BBC Two to BBC One, arguably the most popular channel of the BBC. The series had now become “event television”.

Instead of telling a mixture of stories like the first two series, the third would aim to tell a single epic story across all of its episodes. An ambitious task, but to compensate, the episode count was reduced from thirteen episodes to just five. And unlike previous or future series, Children of Earth was broadcast over the course of a single week.

A controversial series

So the third series of Torchwood changed things in a big way. But for better or for worse? The series featured many controversial moments. Controversy was usually to be expected from Torchwood, but even the fans were shocked by many major moments.

The two biggest examples was the ending of episode four, which killed off one of the show’s most popular characters, and the resolution to the series, in which Jack made a morally questionable and shocking choice to save (almost) everyone.

Did these choices make Children of Earth the best series of Torchwood? Or did they push the series too far from what it originally aimed to be? Over the coming days, we’ll be looking at each perspective. We’ll also be taking a retrospective look back at the series, episode by episode. Does it still hold up ten years later?

Regardless, we wanted to say happy ten years to a series that left a big impact on fans. There isn’t anything quite like Children of Earth. Not just for Torchwood, but for television in general. It’s a series that stood out for strong reasons, and may have been Russell T Davies’s best mature TV series. (Although Years and Years, a hugely popular British show that’s just started showing in the US and Canada, could very well change that.) And for that much, it’s certainly worth praising all these years later.

Are you a fan of Children of Earth? Is it your favorite Torchwood series? Or did it move too far away from what made the series stand out in the first place? Let us know in the comments below.