My Torchwood rewatch takes me to Small Worlds by PJ Hammond. I didn’t remember much about it from broadcast but since became quite interested to watch it. Writer PJ Hammond created and wrote most of Sapphire and Steel back in the later ’70s / early ’80s, a great show I’ve just rewatched for the first time.
Quick review: I enjoyed this, but I don’t think it works as Torchwood; I also think it lacks something dramatically. Here’s why…
All supernatural creatures great and small
This story crosses into the supernatural, fairies to be exact and we get a mix of cure flying sprites in photos mixed with evil, child-snatching mini-demons. The story centres on a young girl selected to become a fairy and the impact that has on those around her (a lot of them get killed). Jack has encountered them before and survived while those around him died. There’s an elderly woman who knew ‘Jack’s father’ and we get nice character stuff around Gwen probing just how old Jack actually is. There’s lots of nice shots of the Torchwood car driving around the team looking serious. Then it goes a bit limp.
Fairies aren’t alien and here the story mirrors the X-files. Mulder and Scully mostly dealt with secret aliens on Earth but sometimes branched into stories of legend and folklore, or tales of mutant people with odd abilities. It dilutes the concept and it’s hard to see how they exist together.
In Small Worlds. we are to believe the fairies have no weakness and can not be challenged. In the end Torchwood saves nobody, and Jack lets the girl be taken away and has the distraught mother to deal with. There’s no agency, no attempt at really making a difference and the whole plot is undermined by the lack of agency the team really has. There’s a place for that kind of story, but this didn’t even make much effort. It’s a mix of ideas, character and some action, but a missed opportunity to explore wider.
It’s watchable and very well performed, just misses the target in my view.