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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

because Fox really, really hates ‘Torchwood’ fans

The American television network Fox is developing an American version of Torchwood.

The Hollywood Reporter has the gall to frame it:

Huge news for sci-fi fans: Fox is developing a stateside version of the U.K. hit series “Torchwood.”

Yeah, “huge news” like Hitler invading Poland is “huge news.”

It gets worse:

Unlike U.S. adaptations that have gone awry, “Torchwood” fans can take comfort that the original producing team is on board. In addition to Davies, exec producers include Davies’ producing partner Julie Gardner (former head of drama at BBC Wales for the show’s first season) and Jane Tranter (another BBC vet, now exec vp programming and production at BBC Worldwide Prods. in the U.S.).

No: this is not comforting. BBC folks were involved in the ridiculous 1996 Fox TV attempted American reboot of Doctor Who, and that didn’t make it suck any less.

What is the point of this? What the fuck is the point? Just make more Torchwood at the BBC, Davies, which at least has demonstrated that it knows how to do it right.

Also, some of the current cast — most likely John Barrowman, who plays the immortal Capt. Jack Harkness — might star if Fox orders “Torchwood” to pilot.

Sorry, but that’s not good enough. That’s really, really bad, actually. They’re gonna force us to watch Our Hero sell out.

It gets worse:

Tranter might try to reboot “Doctor Who” for U.S. audiences while departing “Doctor Who” star David Tennant stars in NBC’s pilot “Rex Is Not Your Lawyer.”

*sob* Can’t they just leave well enough alone?

This has been your WTF Thought for the Day.

(Thanks to reader Kim for the heads-up.)

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  • It might be interesting if Torchwood America exists in the same universe, and Captain Jack is just continuing his storyline from the British show. Of course, that would be completely out of whack with the idea of an American Doctor Who. I guess they saw how successful The Office is and wanted a piece of that British action.

  • Keith

    Not sure what to make of this. Doesn’t sound good, though. I do agree with Maryann, just make more Torchwood at BBC, dammit!

  • Orangutan

    But then there wouldn’t be agitated, angry, upset and disappointed SF fans out there. And as we all know, Fox executives have evolved to sustain themselves entirely on the tears and negative emotions of SF fans.

  • MaryAnn

    It might be interesting if Torchwood America exists in the same universe

    Torchwood was chartered by Queen Victoria, though, to protect the British Empire from the alien influence. Why would there be a Torchwood America?

    There’s definitely a branch of UNIT in New York, though…

  • Patrick

    WTF is right.

  • Max

    Dear Rusty,

    Just start a new show with Barrowman; doesn’t have to be Torchwood, geez already.

  • Hank Graham

    Don’t worry, they can’t possibly do any worse the American version of “Life on Mars.”


    That may not have been as comforting as I’d hoped it would be.

  • Actually a U.N.I.T. show might be pretty cool. Especially if they keep the gritty edge of the Torchwood series and have a team headquartered in New York (To Protect the U.N. Building…Duh!).

    Of course this would entail having to do something original and clever, and we know that doesn’t always happen.

  • Tonia

    Noooooooooo! WTF?

  • Martin

    This is never going to work. Fox has a appauling track record when it comes to sci fi and I’m pretty sure they’ll neuter Capt. Jack completely.

    And an American reboot of Dr Who?

    There really aren’t the words to describe how awful it’ll be.

  • Mimi


  • Martin

    Torchwood was chartered by Queen Victoria, though, to protect the British Empire from the alien influence. Why would there be a Torchwood America?

    Because when Torchwood in that form (Torchwood 1) was destroyed in Doomsday, Capt Jack took Torchwood 3 and made it more of a freelance operation.

    Capt Jack could set up a new base of operations in the US and call it Torchwood.

    But to be honest, is there any point, other than RTD using it as a stepping stone to ‘bigger things’ in Hollywood?

  • As a friend of mine keeps pointing out that this is a BBC Worldwide porduction, that FOX is looking to order a pilot for. And FOX (the network) was not a producer of the 1996 Doctor Who TVM – BBC, Universal and 20th Century Fox TV were.

    The main problem with the TVM was too many cooks in the kitchen, which the US based Torchwood would not have. It would also have the benefit of the original producers and writer on the team – which no other UK -> US translations have had (to my knowledge…)

    What I really see this as is essentially US money for a UK show.

    As for rebooting Who for a US audience – that is stupid.

  • I hate this news. It’s unfortunate. Better than no Torchwood at all? I guess wait and see. Grrr.

  • NorthernStar

    The major problem with this isn’t just the fact that US producers have a terrible record when it comes to remaking shows, it’s the consequences on the BBC’s current Who and Torchwood.

    The BBC are facing budgetry shortages and an American version of Torchwood (and the Who series that may arise from it) would go a long way to breaking even on those cuts. They’ll still have a show to put on, will still profit from its merchandise but have none of the expense of making it.

    And I was really looking forward to seeing RTD’s work on a US mini-series or film.

    I know there’s worse news in the world, but this is quite saddening.

  • Der Bruno Stroszek

    I think the worst problem with the TV movie was that they had to impart over thirty years of backstory to a mainstream American audience whose memory of Doctor Who, if any, involves once seeing a guy in a scarf while hopping channels. It’s hard to really appreciate, as a dyed-in-the-wool fan, how brilliantly the current BBC revival has handled this element until you hear kids talking excitedly about that bit when the Doctor said he stole his TARDIS and you think “Oh yeah! I forgot they hadn’t said that yet.”

    Obviously Torchwood won’t have this problem, which isn’t to say there aren’t about five million other ways this could go wrong. How will they handle the sexuality, I wonder? It seems to be a talking point if a US network drama features a token gay character, whereas in Torchwood it would be a bit of a shock if they had a token heterosexual.

  • Lisa

    I wouldn’t mind if they did this within the existing context (i.e. not just a remake – just an American branch of the Cardiff Torchwood and no messing about with Dr Who. at all.) and if Joss Whedon wrote for it.

    Otherwise why bother? why not just call it another name?

  • Victor Plenty

    Fox doesn’t just hate Torchwood fans. Fox hates everyone and everything. Fox is bent on the destruction of all life and the extinction of all hope. I’m surprised that anyone is surprised by any of Fox’s efforts to make life suck more.

  • D

    Cheer up, people. Maybe Fox won’t screw things up this time.
    Wait, didn’t I just say that last fall about Dollhouse?
    Never mind. We’re doomed.

  • Knightgee

    The good news is that Davies is attached to it, meaning it could be as awesome as Children of Earth Days 1-3 were. The bad news is that Davies is attached to it, meaning it could be as full of emotional manipulation, plot-holes, and out of character moments as Children of Earth Days 4-5.

  • ACK! no… nooooo (swoons back onto the sofa of pissed off)…

  • OK, but…

    Imagine that they cast a certain skinny out-of-work Scots bloke as head of Torchwood US. He’s worked with RTD & Julie before, they might take a chance on him. He doesn’t have spiky hair, he wears glasses, he speaks with a Scottish accent, and, oh yeah, he only has one heart. But! Then Captain Jack pays a visit to Torchwood US and meets him.

    CJ: OMG, it’s you!

    SB (Scottish bloke): (baffled) Well, of course it’s me. Who did you think?

    CJ: (sidles up to him, sotto voce): Undercover, eh?

    SB: (sidles emphatically away): Not with me, thanks.

    LOL! Can you write fanfiction for a show that doesn’t exist yet?

  • Barb

    Half the time I gotta wonder if the reasons behind these not needed Americanized versions are so that they can replace the actors without accents (hello, but we suppose to be a melting pot so why are we having all of our exUS actors go American – Hugh Laurie and Simon Baker). Some whine about not understanding what the actors say (I’m not one of them). If that is the case, turn on your close captioning on the tv. I am totally fed of with them remakes. The US Touching Evil re-used all of the Brit scrips and Americanized them (don’t recall any eppies that were new scripts). I won’t even go into Viva Laughlin (a joke) or Life on Mars). I won’t be watching.

    I may be remembering this incorrectly, but when Jane Tranter shifted over to the states, there was mention of Americanizing many Brit shows. Why not just advertise the originals. There is nothing wrong with them.

  • Does this mean that British versions of Firefly and The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. are just around the corner?

  • texphile

    NO NO, NO…. WTF indeed! Fox has the absolute WORST track record for pitching and then ditching scifi shows; Firefly and Dollhouse being the most glaring examples. Torchwood US???? CF in the making. Barrowman would join up I think, just because RTD and Julie Gardner were on board. Ditto for DT. It would sink like a stone in 3 episodes though.

  • I probably should resist further commentary on this post given the fact that Torchwood was hardly my favorite British sci-fi show, but it should be pointed out for what it’s worth that Davies and the other writers on that series–and on the RTD version of Doctor Who, for that matter–borrowed plot elements from American TV shows all the time.

    Not to mention the fact that the plot of the show’s first episode (ordinary police officer comes across secret government organization while investigating a crime and eventually becomes a member of said organization) sounds suspiciously like the plot for the American movie Men in Black.

    For that matter, my original take on Torchwood–at least until the writing improved and the plots actually started getting interesting–was “the type of British sci-fi show one would expect to see if David E. Kelley wrote British sci-fi shows.”

    Then again, I can’t help but ask why can’t RTD create an American sci-fi show for Fox from scratch?

    Oh, right. Because most of us Yanks won’t bother to watch anything that isn’t a sequel, a spinoff or a reality show. And those of us who would don’t really count.

  • innpchan


    I’d settle for an AMERICAN version of Brisco County…

  • Paul

    I don’t think Fox’s entertainment division hates anything; I just think they don’t love anything. They are calculators, living proof that computers could never create real art without a human hand at the wheel. They see ratings from a British show, buy the rights, add what is popular in America, and whala, they have a TV show refit to the taste of Americans who don’t want to watch it and will disappoint the Americans who do.

    Their news division, on the other hand…

  • NorthernStar

    Hmm…here’s a thought-

    RTD decamps for America under speculation of a Dr Who film.

    “Torchwood” was the working (smoke screen) title for Dr Who series one and it worked very well.

    DT has just dropped out of Burke and Hare for “other commitments.”

    Clearly, there’s a movie on the horizon!

    What’s that? Straws?

    I’m not clutching any…


  • Heh. I can’t help thinking of this quote for some reason.

    So are we going to sit around crying into our lattes or are we going to do something about it?
    –Burn Gorman, Torchwood, “End of Days”

  • Jennifer

    I always wonder why the US networks just can’t get the rights to British shows. I know I’d much rather see the original Doctor Who on ABC, CBS, NBC, or FOX, than some crappy weird rip off.

    Why not expose American’s to something that already works? We might be different. But I know for a fact I’ve converted pretty much all my friends to loving Doctor Who and I don’t think they’d go for an Americanized version.

    Torchwood, I think could work as a spin-off Americanized version. But they’d have to have completely new storylines.

    Honestly though, I’d rather just see the originals on network TV, not some Americanized version. I like hearing something different than what I hear every day.

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