While, K-9 & Company (1981) was mean to be a Spinoff it ended up just being a special. And not a very good one either. Even Lis Sladen was disappointed by it.
But it is where Sarah Jane and K-9 get together. So that is the most significant fact for The Whoniverse in this story.
You can see it on You Tube at (If you can survive the AWFUL theme tune that is!):
So Fast Forward 25 years to TORCHWOOD
The series is set in contemporary Cardiff and follows the Welsh branch of a (semi-)covert agency called the Torchwood Institute, which investigates extraterrestrial incidents on Earth and scavenges alien technology for its own use. As established in the Doctor Who episodes Tooth and Claw and Army of Ghosts, the Institute had been formed by Queen Victoria following an incident involving the Tenth Doctor and a werewolf in 1879, ostensibly to protect the British Empire from aliens and other creatures — as well as from the Doctor himself.
To paraphrase Torchwood Three’s commander-in-chief, Jack Harkness, the organisation is separate from the government, outside the police, and beyond the United Nations (the last reference thereby placing Torchwood in a different realm than UNIT — once known as the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce).
Sidenote: When they mention that Torchwood 4 in Glasgow was run by a funny little man I always wanted them to do a story with Sylvester McCoy as the head of it.
This was the anagram for “Doctor Who” used by Russell T. Davies when he was working on the re-launch that became it’s own series.
After being the season arcs mystery in the 2006 second season of Doctor Who it became it’s own entity.
Post “Watershed” air times (meaning adult programming after 9pm) it was Doctor Who for Adults.
And frankly I was excited by it. The First few episodes were disappointing but I always give a show some leeway in the beginning for the writers and actors to find there way.
Hell, I gave Star Trek: Voyager 4 Seasons! The New Battlestar: Galactica 2 1/2 years. Revolution, up to their big 6 month break and then decided I didn’t really care anymore.
Torchwood just got better and better, and peaked with Children of Earth, I think. Miracle Day was a bit of a let down at the e
But even then, it’s better than most things on TV.
I mean, is there anything much more disturbing and dark (and beautifully written) than Children of Earth for an adult, very dark and multi-layered story. This was Torchwood at it’s finest.
Some of the best:
Small Worlds (By Sapphire & Steel’s PJ Hammond) (From Out of the Rain which starred Julian Bleach , the re-launch “Davros” In Season 2 and then the actor was featured again in The Sarah Jane Adventures).
Countrycide is just gross, but in a good way, because there aren’t really any aliens in this one. It’s the humans who are just creepy.
Random Shoes with my history I identified with this episode a lot.
In Season Two, the exploration of Owen’s character after he’s dead and Jack’s Past coming back to haunt him made this a great show.
Then the show peaked with the very disturbing alien invasion story, Children of Earth.
Then was let down by Miracle Day and road off into the sunset.
This is where John Barrowman became a mega-star, especially in Britain. Arrow was years to come.
Eve Myles (who was in Doctor Who: The Unquiet Dead) was wonderful.
But Naoko Mori as Tosh stole my heart and when she was killed off that really hurt.
Burn Gorman was very good as the grumpy, edgy one.
And Gareth David Lloyd as the loyal man servant was excellent.
They even had the Future 12th Doctor in as Home Secretary John Frobisher in Children of Earth.
The Casting was spot on. Even when they brought on Freema Agyeman for a couple of episodes the show was still singing.
The Ianto Jones Memorial in the restaurant/bar area Mermaid Quay in Cardiff Bay.
The show really celebrated Cardiff, which isn’t a very large city. The walk from City Center (Cardiff Castle) to the Bay is maybe 10-15 minutes at best.
Overall, as “Doctor Who for Adults” it was very satisfying while it lasted.
Then we come to the biggest hit of the Spin offs, The Sarah Jane Adventures.
And, of course, given my love for the character of Sarah Jane Smith, my favorite. But only just. Torchwood when it was good was VERY, VERY good.
And this show was Doctor Who for young kids.
While Doctor Who has always been about being for what Robert Holmes called the “intelligent 8-14 year old” or younger (the “behind the sofa crowd”) this show was on CBBC (Children’s BBC) and very specifically for the under 10 crowd.
But, of course, it was Doctor Who related, so they also threw in things for the older fans as well.
Though the Pilot, Invasion of The Bane is probably the weakest episode of the entire run of the series it at least got the concept off the ground.
But just because it was a “kid’s show” didn’t mean it couldn’t tackle heady subjects.
The Curse of Clyde Langer is a stand out in this regard.
Especially, since I was getting rather tired of the character and avoid watching this episode for several days because an entire episode devoted to this character at that time kind of made me nauseous.
But I was wrong. It was a magnificent tour de force for the character and the actor.
And tackling Homelessness and loneliness and abandonment was just so well done.
It is one the finest examples of the series as a whole.
The fact that 2 Doctors also guest starred on Sarah Jane sets it apart from Torchwood. Torchwood guest starred on Doctor Who, but The Doctor never appear in Torchwood itself because of it’s adult nature. The BBC had enough trouble with the kiddies watching adult fare as it was, no need to blow your whole leg off!
The Death of The Doctor was the 2nd appearance with Matt Smith and former 3rd Doctor Companion Jo Grant meet the mad man with a box, The Eleventh Doctor…
The first time being when The Doctor crashes Sarah’s Wedding:
The show even influenced Doctor Who itself. The time bug of the Trickster’s brigade in Turn Left is a direct reference to Sarah’s reoccurring villain alien, The Trickster.
They even had there own Comic Relief Special in 2009:
I think it very likely that the show would still be on TV to this day had Elisabeth Sladen not passed away in 2011.
It was the most successful and highest rated shown in the history of the channel.
It was a classic for the ages. Even, Like Doctor Who, it was just a “kids show”. 🙂