For years, US networks have tried to re-tooled hit British television series for American audiences with a measure of success. However there have been some failures like Coupling, Men Behaving Badly, Life on Mars and Viva Laughlin! So you can imagine my curiosity when the announcement of the Torchwood: Miracle Day series on Starz featuring original cast members. Early interviews boasted of a big budget production with US filming locations. The Torchwood: Children of Earth mini-series was the culmination of an epic crescendo that spanned two seasons of the weekly series. It would be unfair to pronounce judgement on the current series since it’s still airing. It’s also unfair to be too critical of this show in general because it was always campy although much darker in tone than its Doctor Who progenitor. However, there is one change in the new series that I find disagreeable.
In 2005 Doctor Who came back into our world in the form of sexy Christopher Eccleston (sorry Tom Baker). A bonus of the revived series was the introduction of one of the most unique sci-fi characters on television – Captain Jack Harkness. He was a character without limits. Captain Jack is originally from the fifty-first (51st) century but chose to live in our time. He has visited many planets but chose to live on Earth. However, he left Earth at the end of Torchwood: Miracle Day because the simultaneous deaths of both his young grandson and his lover Ianto Jones life here was too much to bear. He’s hard to pin down and even harder to describe because if there’s one place Captain Jack has never been is inside the proverbial box. That is until now.
Captain Jack Harkness was never about gay or straight and considered classifications to be “quaint”. In the Doctor Who series Captain Jack flirted with men, women, robots and even a cute Malmooth. He loves love; and his love is a complete experience: heart and body. A man who loved Jack wasn’t necessarily gay before or after, but at that time – he loved Jack. Although he’s always been larger-than-life, certain humans were special to him. He allowed himself to fall in love, knowing that he would always end up alone, but that never held him back. Science fiction is about possibilities and Captain Jack is one of the few television characters that really embraced that. So why has the new Starz series been beating us over the head with Captain Jack’s ‘gayness’?
Am I bothered that there have been not only one but two graphic homosexual sex scenes so far involving Captain Jack? Nope, that’s why there’s a fast-forward button. By the way, John Barrowman has clearly been hit the gym with a vengeance. Thank you, sir! I’m bothered because it’s just so unnecessary. Is Captain Jack is flaunting his sexual history with men to irritate Rex (butthead of the year)? Then Rex would really lose sleep knowing that Captain Jack has romanced women as well and still could. Oh no, that’s not true because his flexibility has been completely omitted from this series.
For years, the entertainment industry has discouraged gay actors from coming out of the closet because it would interfere with the fantasy perpetuated to the female demographic. In the past, even straight celebrities have hidden marriages and relationships because of possible negative effects to their image. John Barrowman has been openly gay for years but women love his portrayal of Captain Jack Harkness. Simply because unlike John, there’s a possibility that Jack will love them back. Those daydreams are long gone, ladies. Personally, I will miss the way that Captain Jack would gaze at Gwen Cooper and vice versa. If the decision to limit Captain Jack’s sexual preference was for the sake of American audiences. That is odd because the entire, original ‘Torchwood’ and resurrected ‘Doctor Who’ series have aired repeatedly on American television – uncut and uncensored. We all know what’s up with this cosmic playboy.
Throughout the entire Torchwood series, Captain Jack Harkness and Gwen Cooper (played by the sultry Eve Myles) had a will they/won’t they tension. From the first moment, their chemistry was undeniable. There were stolen glances, looks of longing and really bad timing. It always looked as if they might run off together to some distant planet and would you blame her? Captain Jack comes into your life and upends it. He’s like a bad drug. You can’t get enough of him and hand yourself over completely, despite the potentially disastrous consequences. He was fun, courageous, immortal and sometimes immoral. However, a relationship with this boyishly handsome rogue would only be a fixed point in anyone’s life. Jack, like the Doctor, is a catalyst for something special in the lives of those around him. At a fixed point he would make you brave, sane, sure, hopeful and loved. His passion was a force that would be sweep you up and carry you away, no matter who or what you were. Torchwood: Miracle Day is not yet over and I’ll watch the whole series because although he no longer fancies girls; Captain Jack Harkness will always be my favourite bad boy.