I admit, I'm coming in very late on this. I've seen very little Dr. Who, and no Torchwood to date, until tonight's premiere of Series 4, which is set in Los Angeles. Let it be known that today I officially became a fan of Torchwood.
Let me count the ways, in no particular order:
1) High production value. Every minute of this show looked fantastic. Every location was lush and nothing looked cheap or thrown together or like a little sound stage. They weren't afraid to do night shots, driving in the rain shots, sweeping vistas of Wales (that house!), hospital interiors with that weird lighting they have, the inside of an airplane, dark hallways, high-tech command centers, and just about every other kind of location you can think of. And it all looked great! On top of that, the makeup and special effects were flawless.
2) John Barrowman. Hunky but not overly Hollywood, not afraid to be who he is, and a very funny and gracious human being off the set. He's extremely likable and easy on the eyes in a friendly way, and I wish we'd seen more of him in this premiere, but I do understand why we didn't.
3) Fascinating premise. I did go to Wikipedia to see what I'd been missing, and to fill in some of the information that the premiere hinted at but didn't give directly. Obviously, modern day alien hunters in Los Angeles and the whole X-Files feel is straight up the alley of Urban Fantasy News. Within that, the story introduced in the premiere episode is a fascinating mystery that is not neatly tied up in one episode, leaving the viewer wanting more in a good way, not with a frustrating cliffhanger that smashcuts to black.
4) Stellar writing. I sat down to watch this premiere without having seen one minute of the previous incarnations of Torchwood, and I was introduced to the premise and characters in ways that made sense and fit with the tone of the show, but that never felt like forced exposition. The only "I am explaining everything to you now" scene worked flawlessly as a natural result of the action. The humor was understated and, again, a natural result of the interactions of the characters. The pacing flowed well, the dialog was completely believable.
I predict a Torchwood sweep at the next Saturn Awards. I could not find any flaw big enough to be worth mentioning except maybe the Jeep chase scene at the end which seemed a little contrived, but it was fantastic eye candy, I have to admit, and made me want to get in a Halo Warthog and drive around for a while.
Torchwood fills in the holes left by such shows as Heroes, X-Files and Millennium (yes, I'm a geek, I still miss Millennium!) and does it with class, mystery and humor. You can see every dollar on the screen, and it's money well-spent, because I will definitely be back for more.