It’s been almost five years since we last saw Captain Jack Harkness in Miracle Day. Ever since there have been rumours of a fifth series for the show but nothing really strong from John Barrowman or Russell T. Davies. Should the show return though? The fourth series was probably the weakest and with new Doctor Who spin-off “Class” starting in the Autumn, is there a need for Torchwood to come back onto our screens?
Series one and two of Torchwood followed identical formats. 13 episodes set mainly in Cardiff with a team of five, fighting aliens and in some cases helping victims who had fallen through the rift. It was brilliant to see what happens on Earth when the Doctor isn’t there to help. Captain Jack was brilliant along with his team. The show worked. Onto series three and we were down to three team members. This series took a new format. Five episodes broadcast in five nights and just one story. It was brave from RTD to move away from the tried and tested series format but it certainly worked a treat. It was the most emotional and intense series yet and the show was quickly rising up to be one of the best sci-fi shows around. However series four came around and again the series was based around one story but was told across ten episodes and to be honest it dragged a bit. If Miracle Day was a five episode story like Children of Earth it would’ve worked better but there were too many episodes where nothing appeared to happen. A more successful fourth series would’ve almost guaranteed a fifth series and beyond, but it was the first setback in the show’s life.
So there are only two original team members remaining, Gwen Cooper and of course Captain Jack Harkness. I think if the show returned these two would need to come back initially. There’s been too long since the last series to completely change the cast, viewers would doubt it was the same show. At least Captain Jack would have to be there. He was the heart and soul of the team. I think the team would need to be expanded as well. In Miracle Day, we had the Americans helping out, though that didn’t really work despite Rex being an enjoyable and charismatic character. The inclusion of the Americans made the show feel as though it had lost its soul. One of the charms of the show was the locality of it. The rift was key as the danger was always central in Cardiff and that worked. Yes the danger in series four meant that there’d be worldwide implications, but it would’ve worked better if the Torchwood team remained the close knit Cardiff based bunch we’d grown to love.
If the show does come back, it would be great to see a return to a five member team with Captain Jack leading them and Gwen Cooper at least appearing to ease the transition. Going back to the format of series one and two would also seem like the smartest plan, they were the series where the show enjoyed the most success and was at its peak. Returning to dealing with more local problems would also be a benefit. If we were shown more worldwide issues then you’d have to ponder why the Doctor remained absent.
So to answer the title question; yes, of course Torchwood should come back. I think there’s a fairly good chance of it too. With Steven Moffat handing over the head writer role to Chris Chibnall next year, there will surely be some changes to the Doctor Who universe. Chibnall wrote a lot of the episodes in the first two series of Torchwood so he may be keen to revive the show along with RTD. It would be tremendous to see John Barrowman reprise his role as Captain Jack and as his absence from Doctor Who goes on, Torchwood seems like his most likely route back. The new spin-off “Class” is being aimed primarily at a younger audience so there’d still be room for the more adult targeted Torchwood.