'Torchwood' scoop: How Starz handles Capt. Jack's love life

Torchwood-Jack

Image Credit: BBC

As Starz gets ready to unleash Torchwood: Miracle Day this summer, there’s one element of the sci-fi drama that’s not referenced in the trailer. When word first broke of the U.S. network picking up the cult favorite BBC series and changing its setting to Los Angeles, fans worried the show’s immortal bisexual hero, Captain Jack Harkness, would be portrayed differently. According to the show’s cast and showrunner, the new series doesn’t hold back. “I knew they would be true to the show and not change drastically,” says star John Barrowman. “If it was watered down, I wouldn’t have done it. For those people who are our stanch fans, it’s going to have the heart and soul of Torchwood which we’ve always had, plus the energy and excitement of a show that’s bigger and better.”

As for his character’s love life, Barrowman says Capt. Jack “gets to have full-on boy-sex a couple of times. On those days going to work I’d wake up and Scott my partner would say, ‘What are you filming today?’ And I’d say, ‘Oh it’s going to be a tough day, I get to have sex with a 24 year old.’”

For Americans checking out Torchwood for the first time, a TV action hero who beats up bad guys, saves the world, and wins the boy is likely a new experience. But showrunner Russell T Davies says that, contrary to what Americans might assume about all European countries, our primetime lineup is more progressive about showing gay characters. “The portrayal of gay, bisexual, and lesbian characters [in America] is currently way ahead of Britain,” Davies says. “The kids on Glee, the beauty and detail of that couple on Modern Family. We’ve got nothing like that. Even a nice Republican sitcom like $#*! My Dad Says, a show I quite liked, was stacked with intelligent gay-friendly stories, and that’s in a corner you’d never expect to find them. If course, it’s all the gay men and women sitting on writing teams pushing their stories forward, which I think is wonderful.”

In Torchwood: Miracle Day, the CIA brings in Capt. Jack and Gwen Cooper for assistance when, suddenly and inexplicably, nobody in the world can die, causing the population to skyrocket, criminals to be indestructible, and a host of problems from overcrowded hospitals to food hording. Spoiler alert:* Yet this season Captain Jack is mortal, putting himself at risk fighting a sea of enemies who cannot be killed. “You’re going to get a lot into the history of Jack,” Barrowman teases. “You see one of his big relationships that defines a lot about who he is. You also find out a lot about Jack and Gwen.”

Gwen, meanwhile, is now in hiding and a protective mother. “You’ll see her as a mother and a warrior,” Eve Myles says. “She’s militant and does what she has to do and has to make the biggest sacrifice of her life. The only place for Torchwood to go was bigger and better. We’ve completely conquered that this year.”

The change in location has been “marvelous,” Myles added, though it was also intimidating. “Coming here to Hollywood to play a character I love, you’d think I’d be the most confident person in the world, and I’m not,” she says. “Walking onto the Warner Bros. lot was the best and most nervous day of my life. I was a sweaty heap.”

Meanwhile Davies says he’s keeping the cost of admission low for new viewers by using the change of location to help explain the show. “You know how sometimes on a show you can tell a new executive has come in, like the Spock’s Brain year on Star Trek — it’s not like that,” he says. “It’s faithful and careful and honest, but at the same time, it’s brand-new for a whole new audience. In Episode 1 you have a brand new cast of American actors who have never heard of Torchwood saying, ‘What is Torchwood?’ So all those questions in the mind of a new audience are literally being said on screen and being answered.”

*Getting ton of grief from readers for including this despite having a bold spoiler alert warning. As I noted in the comments, this is not a big twist that happens in the middle of the season. It’s a previously unannounced part of the set-up for the show and is introduced near the start of Episode 1. People involved in the show knew it would leak this week since the first three episodes were sent to critics. So, again, sorry if you did not want to know this and kept reading anyway, I normally do not report spoilers at all, but once you watch the season I suspect you’ll realize this isn’t the spoil-spoiler you think it is.

Read more:
First full ‘Torchwood: Miracle Day’ trailer

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Comments (159 total) Add your comment
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  • bfd

    YEEEASSS!

    Can’t wait.

    • Dawn

      I can’t be tamed, i can’t be tamed.

      • deedeedragons

        Gee, thanks Miley.

    • darclyte

      BTW, for the uninitiated, Torchwood is an anagram of Doctor Who.

      • Mark

        Now you just have to explain to Americans who Doctor Who is…

      • darclyte

        If they can’t Google it for themselves, then they really don’t need to know.

      • Dustin Ingle

        Pretty sure Americans are well aware of Dr. Who.
        Might wanna stop the US bashing Mark – childish much ?

      • Robin

        Doctor who was invented in america though..right?

      • Jeb

        @Dustin Sensitive much? I’m an American fan of Doctor Who, and most of the people here I mention it to have never heard of it. Doesn’t mean anything against them or the show…let’s get the word out!

      • Ronald Cava

        some of us americans do know who the Doctor is ….:)

  • Rebekah

    I am glad they aren’t going to tone Jack down, but why is he suddenly mortal? I don’t know how I feel about that. One of the best things about his character in terms of his emotional story is that he is immortal, so that spoiler makes me nervous. When is this supposed to start airing on Starz?

    • Eddie’s Momma

      I’m guessing that Jack being mortal is part of the same quirk that is making mortals immortal.

      A bit of a turnaround that he’s got to deal with while saving the day. Again.

      • jul

        The little “Spoiler Alert” in the story should have been posted at the beginning of the story–not buried in the middle RIGHT BEFORE THE SPOILER. Thanks, James Hibbard. >:(

      • Rebekah

        @Eddie’s Momma– Ooooh, I get it. I hope that’s the case. Then maybe that would mean it is just temporary.

      • Jersey Jeff

        Jul is quite right. That spoiler was truly obnoxious, and not properly packaged at all. James Hibbard and his editor are both butt-heads.

    • elizabeth

      I think it premieres July 8. What I haven’t learned yet is will the miniseries appear weekly like the first two series, or on consecutive nights like the CoE miniseries did? Does anyone know?

      • Mickey

        The series is weekly.

    • Bruce_F

      He’s the Face of Boe so I’ll go out on a limb and say he turns out alright. Nothin’ to worry about.

      • lawsontl

        Au contraire: they implied he might be the Face of Boe, but RTD said in a later interview that he wasn’t actually certain they’d go through with it, but wasn’t it a fun idea to play with? The man changes his mind more often than his underpants.

        No one is safe on Torchwood except Gwen.

      • cipher

        lawsonti: he changes his underpants? Who says the Captain doesn’t go commando? (ok, yes, I saw the Dr. Who Episode on the Game show space station and he did have underwear on for a while).

        Why am I commenting on this? I really wanted to suggest to Rebekah to set a good example for other viewers and wait and see how the plot develops before having concerns about Jack’s mortality. It’s all in how the story’s told.

    • Sharlin

      In Doctor Who lore, Jack becomes the face of Boe, so he’s only going to be mortal for a little bit. He has to warn the Doctor in the future anyway!!!

      • Barbara’s Bush

        See lawsonti’s post for the correction on this line of thinking.

    • German

      Sulla recente camangpa della Regione Toscana ho gie0 scritto anche troppo. Pur riconoscendo anch’io che l’immagine scelta era un po’ fuorviante, ho continuato a difendere l’iniziativa e penso tuttora che in un Paese poco civile come il nostro tutto sia meglio di niente, riguardo alle discriminazioni di genere. Ecco invece una camangpa analoga che sta per pervadere l’Inghilterra. E su questa credo che pochissimi troveranno qualcosa da ridire. Ma il Regno Unito – con tutte le sue contraddizioni – e8 un Paese civile, e da quelle parti se la possono permettere. Gli italiani non la capirebbero, nemmeno col testo tradotto. Queerty Paolo Colonna | 0:55 You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

  • Brooke

    Woah, wait, that bit about Jack being suddenly mortal is more than just a MILD spoiler, EW! Was it really necessary to throw that in there? All the other promo material I’d seen only referenced that everyone else is suddenly unable to die.

    • James Hibberd

      The first three episodes were sent to critics for review this week. It’s revealed in the first episode, and demonstrated in Jack’s very first scene, and is part of the season’s whole premise. So people working on the show expect it to get out there pretty quickly and most critics will write about it without even realizing it’s a spoiler. Will remove ‘mild’ though, and I’m sorry if anybody saw that who didn’t want to.

      • MJ

        Uhm, James, I believe the word is staunch, not stanch.

      • BIG boo

        YOU may have seen the first three episodes, but WE haven’t. I am a STAUNCH Torchwood fan and did not no about this twist for the season. IT’s not in the trailer, now is it? Very unprofessional in my opinion of you.

    • Jen

      I agree!! I was just about to post a comment like yours, although, I admit, with a few more words in caps-lock. MILD spoiler alert?? Are you CRAZY?! Jack being MORTAL is the biggest f*cking spoiler I’ve heard about MD. *sigh* Remind me again why I should watch Torchwood without Ianto…

      • elizabeth

        I’ve been wondering how this planet-wide immortality would affect immortal Jack, so I’m not terribly surprised. What does worry me is (1) will Cardiff’s TW3 roots and the Whoniverse be completely ignored? Granted the facility has been destroyed and the rift supposedly closed, but still…. And (2) I’m REALLY worried about Rhys. (I love Rhys the way we all loved Ianto.) First, TW has always been about mortal peril (hence the loss of the beloved Tosh and Owen and Ianto, no is safe on the show), all the more to highlight the horror Jack suffers as immortal. Second, there was something about the trailer, and now this blurb about Gwen’s sacrifice (and she is due, unfortunately) that made me start worrying about Rhys. Oh, well, I survived the horror of Ianto dying and still love these characters, so hopefully I’ll get through this too. But much like Ianto helping to keep Jack grounded, Rhys helps keep Gwen grounded, which to me makes them so important, and why so many of us were soooooo done in when Ianto died. I am still excited though, I do love these characters.

      • cregis

        Sorry, but I wouldn’t miss Rhys. To me he’s like Darren on Bewitched, an average man married to an extraordinary woman, she didn’t need Darren, he was just a male writer’s dream.

      • Bryan Thomas

        You should watch Torchwood with or without Ianto because the show wasn’t about him, that’s like me saying, “Why should I watch Torchwood without the Pterodactyl?” They are going to have a ton of awesome new characters/actors (Lauren Ambrose being one of them)

      • BIG boo

        @cregis – You obviously just don’t GET this show, nor the characters, do you? Sad.

    • longtones

      Agreed! I’m a huge torchwood fan who is online regularly and I hadn’t heard that yet. Nor did I want to. I’m pretty sure thats a major plot twist!

    • tvgirl48

      Definitely a HUGE spoiler I hadn’t heard yet. I’m curious as heck to see how he figures out he’s mortal though. (And someone needs to edit this article, there are a couple typos that really bothered me)

      • elizabeth

        Yeah, it’s not like the Man in Black who gets a bloody nose and knows, Jack can get injured, he just does die from his injuries.

  • Summer

    As a faithful, rather hardcore Whovian, I really hope this brings a wider American audience to both Torchwood, and the rest of the awesome Whoverse. People just don’t know what they’ve been missing! I also am kind of worried about Jack’s sudden mortality, as I believe that is such an integral part of his character. but, I do have faith in RTD, and so I hope it will work out!

    • Gina Vera

      I know hope they get another season maybe longer!

  • chocolateislove

    Jack’s not just bisexual, he’s omnisexual. He flirts with boys, girls, and aliens alike.

    • Mark

      While Captain Kirk could act like he was God’s gift to women, Jack will act like he’s God’s gift to every single thing in the universe. It’s a tough job but somebody has to do it.

    • Sara

      Wouldn’t you, if you looked like that?

    • elizabeth

      Thanks for correct JH. I was going to, but I’m glad I read the comments first. I will add for newies that Jack has been married before to at least two women and had a daughter with one of them. He also had an important wartime love affair with another woman during WWII. Which to me underscores the idea that love is love, and Jack is a lover. (And hard not to love back! *grin*)

    • BIG boo

      Yet in truth 95% of the time its just “boys”, now isn’t it? Cause it has to be “shocking”.

      • Blake J

        So what, 99.99% of other series all have straight leading characters, so if Captain Jack is pretty much gay, that is part of what makes it special.

      • Viv

        when we first meet jack, he’s seducing rose in doctor who, then the soldier, then rose, then doctor who, then an alien, then a couple he mentions, so, uhm, yeah–he’s pretty, hotsexy omni. yum.

  • Flip

    I am hoping for some HOT man-on-man action with Jack!! I loved his sex scenes with Ianto and I want more, please!!!

    • Flip

      Oh, and since this is Starz, the network that airs Spartacus, I EXPECT full frontal male nudity!!!

      • Michael Sacal

        That’s one thing I don’t want to see, lol.

        So far Camelot has avoided showing us “Merlin’s wand”, if you will, and I hope TW does the same.

        Given that the show is on Starz, I was never worried that they might tone down Jack’s sexual preferences, specially since Spartacus featured a gay couple.

      • Mary

        Since this is ALSO going to be airing on the BBC, don’t get your hopes up.

      • orville

        Ok, wait. If it’s going to be aired on BBC, why not BBCA too then?

      • Flip

        @Michael Sacal, you’re a man and you’re scared of seeing a penis? Jeezus Krist!!!

      • Megan

        @orville: Starz is providing some of the cash to produce this series of TW. Part of the agreement is that they get the American broadcast rights.

    • lawsontl

      SCENES? Scene, singular. A wank in the hothouse. The rest was just flirting and kissing.

  • Carla in Houston

    I’m guessing Jack’s mortality will be temporary, as will the immortality of the rest of the world. Perhaps the two are connected?

    • Qj201

      Jack mortality “should” be temporary because in the Whoverse it has already been strongly implied that Jack is the Face of Boe.

  • googie

    Eve Myles is a great actress! I can’t get over the loss of all the other characters! Barrowman, although interesting, CAN’T ACT!!

    • Bekah

      If you think that I’m guessing you’re watching the wrong show then… It’s about Jack, and John does a wonderful job potreying him.

    • Allonsy86

      You know, I was about to post the same thing about Miles….bring back Gareth, his one liners made the show at times. Plus, full on sex?! W/o Ianto? I’m not so sure the heart and soul of TW will be in this….not sure I’ll be watching. Although the MAJOR spoiler was intriguing, I’m not hooked into Starz run TW yet w all I read. Maybe Moffatt can take this over as well….

    • cipher

      Y’all have full rights to your own opinions, but mine is that Eve is, well, talented, but there’s something naive about her self-image. I think it shows that she’s too aware of how cool it is to be a big star and it leaks out in her portrayal. Hence, you see a lot of Gwen-bashing that really should be blamed on her.

      As for Barrowman, take a look at the first 7 seasons of X-Files and compare how Duchovny used the least amount of manipulation to make the most depth out of his portrayal. I think Barrrowman does the same. Uses bits of himself, but still does it with subtlety, finesse and g&d-awesome good humor. I’ve never seen anyone so good have so much fun with his craft and seem so un-stuck-up. Not modest, just not overwhelmed by his own wonderfulness. Oh well, hard to explain. Just my opinion. Do feel free to go back to maintaining yours!

  • Bob

    Guess I’ll be screening the episodes first before letting the young teen kids watch.

    • Flip

      OMFG, get a life.

    • Scott

      Showing love, diversity and equality on TV?? THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!! Wouldn’t want them seeing two men… gasp…. KISSING!!!

      • Desmo

        I don’t think there is a problem with two guys kissing, more full guy on guy sex that she might be worried about, which is a completely normal thing to worry about with children.

      • Di

        Or full on sex w/ a man and a women, or two women. Really just not exposing my kids to porn (or gratuitous violence) is the goal here.

      • deedeedragons

        Helen Lovejoy, LOL “Won’t someone please think of the childen”.

      • Flip

        It’s not porn, Di. Get a life, you conservative p. of. s!

    • elizabeth

      I wouldn’t screen this for my kids just because there may be a gay couple. I would however, because TW has always been the adult Whoniverse spin-off, and runs later so it can feature stronger themes. It can been an intense show. A mature 14 year old doesn’t need screening, otherwise probably a good idea.

      • t86

        Agreed. One of the earliest 1st season episodes had a sex scene that turned rather dark, and no, it was a *het* scene. Last year’s mini-season 5 episode-r entitled “Torchwood: Children of Earth” was really, really not for the pre-teen set for reasons having nothing to do with sex, and very little with graphic violence (although there was a bit of gore). CoE made what governments and people of power are willing to do to human beings, children even, visceral in a way that was deeply disturbing. In other words, it was amazing, strangely *realistic* nightmare stuff where the monsters are *us*

        Don’t know how they are going to keep this season from being a letdown just by comparison, but I’m glad that the WhoVerse is coming up with innovative ways to keep TW going when lots of other good science fiction programming is falling by the wayside.

  • Comixchick

    Good. Jack ain’t Jack if he’s not getting his freak on. Maybe Ianto can come back from the dead (hope, hope)?

    • Flip

      Curing the immortality disease could have the pleasant side effect of raising Ianto from the dead…*hint hint*

      • World-Traveler

        *sigh* RTD has already said there will be no Ianto.

      • Flip

        He’s a known liar.

      • cipher

        ZOMG! Zombie Ianto! Kewl! And…yuk.

    • Bob

      dec 24 On2006 8:00 a 14 year old boy named scott jackson was found dead doctros couldn’t come up with the cause of his death. His mother checked his emails trying to figure out what happend. It turns out he was still signed on to my space. She found that he had gone to sleep without reposting a chain mailRepost this message to 6 videos or else a faceless girl will kill u tonight

  • Karen

    Harkness. Not Harnkess.

  • Dee

    I can’t wait, big Torchwood and Dr. Who fan! I don’t even mind paying for Starz just so I can watch this. Hopefully they’ll have more than 8 episodes tho…

    • Flip

      It’s 10 episodes.

  • Thiago – Brazil

    Can’t wait… but i miss Ianto.

  • Betsy

    My question is how does he figure out he is mortal. He dies and doesn’t come back to life? That would be a really short season. I am disappointed that I now will have to subscribe to Starz in order to watch it. I’ve watched it from the beginning on BBC America!

    • Flip

      Without Starz co-producing this season, you wouldn’t be watching Torchwood anywhere.

      • Shaz

        I wish people would stop saying that – it’s just not true. The BBC never cancelled Torchwood. It was RTD’s decision to take it to peddle it in America and the BBC agreed to let him try. Despite Starz apparent lack of willingness to acknowledge the fact, the BBC are and always have been equal partners in this project. It should also be pointed out for those that don’t know how the BBC works, that RTD was the head writer on the show and has never owned the rights to it despite what he often implies in interviews.

    • Donna

      Betsy, that is the best comment yet! So true. I am now more intrigued. And totally agree about having to subscribe. Especially with the Netflix/Starz head butting. I have to say, though, that it better not be as dark as Children of Earth. That tore me apart.

    • Debi

      Subscribers to DishNet get a free YEAR of Starz… might be worth looking into that.

    • h.

      He probably gets hurt and it doesn’t go away…like it has to heal naturally and over time and he’s like ‘Oh…well…bugger.’ He probably won’t test the theory. I hope. :p

    • Brett

      He’ll start displaying the symptoms of the thousand STD’s that he picks up during his omnisexual adventures.

      • Lisa

        ^LOL!

      • Flip

        Creep!

  • Pam

    I cannot wait!

    • djsavaunte

      YEA!!! Can’t wait, the Whovers already has a small following in the US thanks to BBC America. With TW coming to America and Doctor Who’s season opener being filmed partly in America started a Buz that will spark an interest in people that have been missing out.
      BBC America is the largely extent of exposure to British programing myself and a few friends get, Doctor Who, Torchwood, Top Gear and Primeval being favorites. That being said,worrying about correctors mortality? It seems to be part of the norm main characters to die. We jokingly refer to being replaced or fired as getting “BBC’ed. I mean think about it, brilliantly written into Doctor Who’s script is the ability to replace the main actor anytime they fill the need without changing the story line. On the other hand the American audience doesn’t do well with drastic changes in their favorite shows causing the show to lose viewers, so I think our beloved TW characters should be safe while on this side of the pond.

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