For those of you who have already read some of my various blog entries, you surely have some sense of my eccentric personality. One facet of said personality is a particular affinity for creating strange terms or utilizing obscure references for very specific sentiments, usually originating from TV shows, of course.

 

Showrunner Russel T. Davies doesn't mind ruthlessly killing off his team.

The members of Torchwood Three...membership subject to change without notice...

Now since I’ve reached the point where I’m very well aware of my own tendency to use these indecipherable expressions and quotations, I’m usually pretty good about either avoiding their use when communicating to people who won’t understand them, or at least offering enough explanation for people to follow whatever convoluted point I’m making. However, my “Dear Vampire Diaries” posts very pointedly follow a stream of consciousness pattern as I lay out my first impressions of watching this unfamiliar show, and as such on at least one occasion I know I’ve left something of a mystery for the uninitiated.

 

There’s an expression that has become common parlance amongst many of a friends (a group consisting largely of aspiring screenwriters such as myself, interested in discussing the finer points of storytelling). It’s an expression that I believe I technically coined, though its origins become fairly obvious once you understand the context. You see, today I aim to explain just what exactly a “Torchwood Plan” is and, believe it or not, it originates from a television series known as “Torchwood”.

 

I couldn’t exactly blame you for not being familiar with Torchwood, since it’s technically a British series, even though the American cable channel Starz helped produce its most recent series “Miracle Day”. Torchwood is both a spinoff and an anagram of “Doctor Who”, which is probably one of the most seasoned scripted TV series of all time. Although the ever-increasing popularity and influence of Doctor Who has definitely begun to spread to North America and other parts of world, its origin is also British, so I’ll take a step back and start with the very basics, since the point here is to have you understand what on Earth I’m talking about.

 

It also really saves the series when someone decides they want nothing to do with the franchise ever again *coughecclestoncough*

In addition to their time travel capabilities, Time Lords can also regenerate from near-death situations, but to do so will change their appearance. The Doctor has experiences this many times.

 

The Cliff’s Notes version goes something like this: The Doctor is an alien from a species (known as Time Lords) who have mastered time travel. Time Lords generally frown on interfering in the course of history, and take on a role as observers in time. The Doctor got bored with this, however, and likes helping people in need, so one day he stole a rather finicky Time/Space travel conveyance known as a T.A.R.D.I.S. At this point, The Doctor had pretty much all of time and space at his fingertips…so of course he spent a disproportionate amount of time in and around Great Britain. Of course with an entire universe in need of his help, even The Doctor can’t be around all the time to help us…that’s where Torchwood comes in.

 

Torchwood is the name of a secret quasai government-sanctioned organization, founded to defend the Earth against alien invasions. Torchwood has a few known branches/offices, but the series focuses on Torchwood Three, the branch located in Cardiff, Wales. In addition to their standard alien defense duties, Torchwood three monitors the unusual occurrences surrounding a nearby rift in space and time. Their leader, Jack Harkness, even has an incredible amount of experience dealing with aliens, since he was born in the distant future, sent back in time to the 1800s and is still alive in the present day. You see, Jack has some unique chronological properties that make him nearly indestructible and practically immortal.

 

Now with the kinds of technology and resources that Torchwood has been known to utilize, together with a leader of Jack’s description, you might think they’re the Men In Black times a thousand…and you’d be kind of wrong.

 

Torchwood has had four series (seasons for us yanks) at this point, two produced like a more typical TV series and two produced more like miniseries. I’m going to avoid an unnecessarily arduous, detailed and spoiler-ridden account of Torchwood continuity for the purpose of this discussion, and simply look at series three a.k.a. Children of Earth, in order to explain just what one must do to employ a Torchwood Plan.

 

The 456 simply ruined my last family reunion, we couldn't leave them alone with my cousins for five minutes without something terribly unsettling happening.

And you thought your deadbeat brother-in-law was a bad influence on your children! They ain't got nothing on the 456!

In Children of Earth, all the children in the world start acting strangely for precise intervals, until their strange behavior proves to be heralding the arrival of aliens known as the 456. After some unconventional negotiations with the government of Great Britain as well as some representatives from other governments of the world, the aliens reveal their true and unsettling motives causing great concern and discussions of considerable moral ambiguity amongst the civil servants.

 

Meanwhile the Torchwood crew, who were simply minding their own business while trying to perform their collective job, find themselves the target of a team of assassins. They manage to cheat death, but without some collateral damage. The team must also waste a bunch of their time trying to rescue each other instead of solving the alien mystery at hand, but they too discover what the aliens want.

 

It’s at this point, with the Torchwood team working out of a makeshift base, most of their resources unavailable to them and with the government considering them a threat to public interest that their leader decides they must make a stand against these creepy aliens.

 

It makes a certain amount of sense though, right? Torchwood was specifically created to deal with alien crises, and that’s what they’re up against now. Plus, Jack Harkness has more experience interacting with aliens and supernatural problems than you’ll ever have doing anything with your one measly lifespan. Surely he knows something the audience doesn’t know. Surely he has an idea of some exploitable weakness these aliens have, so he can force them off our planet. Surely Jack has a plan, any plan at all!

 

Well, he does. Unfortunately for everyone involved, it is THE quintessential Torchwood plan.

 

So Jack and his closest colleague force their way into the room where the governments’ representatives have been negotiating with one of the aliens, who has actually come down to Earth. Once there, Jack very forcefully tells the aliens that they won’t meet their demands or even compromise with them. He basically tells them where they can shove it.

 

The aliens, understandably annoyed by this, respond by killing a number of innocent people, to demonstrate that they can back up their threats. Meanwhile Torchwood cannot, and pretty much just watch all those people die, then retreat because they didn’t actually have any way of stopping the aliens in the first place.

 

For the record, I have no idea what's happening in this picture, thus easily making it the best candidate to post here.

It's like the sci-fi- equivalent of saying "Swiper no swiping!" and expecting the cartoon thief to set aside his criminal past for you.

Basically, Jack applies logic that occasionally stops a school bully from tormenting a child on a playground to an alien representing a technologically advanced and definitely hostile alien species making lofty life-or-death demands of an entire planet. They have no weapons, spaceships or technology capable of forcing the aliens to leave, or even reduce their demands, yet they charge in and tell the aliens to leave. I honestly don’t know what they expected to happen as a result of this encounter, they practically had the absence of plan.

 

So that’s the Torchwood plan that coined the term. A plan so terrible it absolutely ruined my enjoyment of that miniseries. They tried to threaten a powerful, destructive alien threat not to destroy humanity in the emptiest way possible, then were somehow surprised when it backfired HORRIBLY.

 

Granted, I think my annoyance with the Torchwood style of problem solving leads me to overuse the term somewhat, but any time someone enacts a plan with virtually no thought for the possible consequences, or even a full-bodied idea of how the plan will turn out in the best case scenario, you can bet that Jack Harkness is smiling to himself somewhere in space and time.

 

So now you know and, of course, knowing is a large portion of the battle, not quite totaling a majority.

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