So over the past month or two I've been watching Torchwood, and seldom has a series left me more conflicted.
Fandom seems to swoon over it often. Jack Harkness is often made much of as "the guy who will sleep with anything".
Upon watching the series, I have to conclude that what I watched was completely different from what the rest of the fandom saw.
Yes, Jack and Ianto were together. They got together offscreen, had most of their development offscreen, ended with some one-sided declarations of love and.... I don't even know. They're probably the pairing that got the LEAST development on the show. I must also add, that Jack is one of the characters to have the least sex on the show. Especially in season one, pretty much all the other characters are shagging right and left. Except Jack.
For me, the best way to summarize Torchwood would be 'incoherent'. It started off as... I don't even know. Doctor Who only not funny, X-files but with more (way more) sex, "science fiction" with plotlines which wouldn't have been out of place on Supernatural. Season one was a total wreck, in my opinion. The character development was spotty and irrational at times (example: Jack's team mostly don't know Jack is immortal. When one of them shoots him in the head, everybody expects him to die - and yet there are no consequences to this colossal act of mutiny. Nobody even addresses the fact that this character thought he was murdering Jack.). Hardly any characters - including Jack - are called on their bad or irrational behavior.
It didn't help that personally, I thought the cast was severely lacking in chemistry. I detested Owen. I really liked Tosh, but she got very little development. Gwen started out as insufferable, but evened out over the course of season two. Her boyfriend (later, husband) Rhys started out as obnoxious, but improved greatly. Ianto had a lot of potential, but wasn't given the screentime to realize it. Jack didn't have any characters to play out the dynamic I loved so much from Doctor Who (I should note that I personally thought the high points of his character were with Nine and Rose. Now that was a team!)
In season two, things evened out. The first episode of the season was a great improvement, imo, and reminded us just how much fun Jack could be. His play against John Hart was awesome. Over the course of season two, matters improved. The characters grew into themselves (though I will admit, I was extremely disappointed Owen didn't stay dead). There were some excellent episodes (Meat, for example), and seeing Martha Jones again was lots of fun. She's an awesome character, when not mooning over the Doctor.
The season ended on a WTF, though. The dramatic return of Jack's brother didn't do much for me, and once again, I felt that the consequences for various actions were not dealt with properly. (if a person is buried alive/ constantly resurrecting for like a thousand years, they will probably not be very sane when they awaken).
Oh, and Tosh and Owen's deaths were kind of pointless. I didn't care about Owen dying, but I liked Tosh, and wish she had died a better death.
And then came Children of Earth. Which was written by Russel T. Davies whom I like a lot, despite his tendency for melodrama. And THAT gave us a taste of what Torchwood was actually trying to be. The quality was a huge jump up, in my opinion, and gave us a set of truly excellent episodes. I was chewing my fingernails, and really, this is what I wanted to see. How the Earth manages when the Doctor isn't there to cleverly save the day. The prices normal people have to pay, and how difficult it is to do the right thing when there is no Tardis and no genius Doctor and they don't have all the time in the world. Once again I was iffy about the conclusion, because it bothers me when characters insist on making really stupid decisions on purpose just to create drama. Also, the end was more wangsty than angsty.
But in a way, I'm glad I stuck through just for these episodes.
Also, I knew Ianto was going to die (does anybody on the internet not know that?). I thought the effect his death had on Jack was interesting, but not played up enough, and really - it felt sort of contrived. More contrived than Tosh and Owen's, I think. As far as character deaths go, it didn't hit me so hard, but it wasn't really necessary either.
The real question I'm left with is how I managed to stick through the whole thing. I'm certainly not trying to knock the people who like it - taste is subjective, and more power to those who enjoyed.
I think the fact is, despite its flaws, Torchwood had a sort of charm. Or maybe I was riding the high from seasons 1-4 of Doctor Who, and wasn't quite ready to leave it yet. And chances are, when the new series comes out, I'll watch that as well.