Ok, so Christmas TV may not just be repeats of The Great Escape but there are still too many over shown classics and celebrity ‘special’ episodes of quizzes we don’t watch the year for our liking.
Luckily Christmas is a time for receiving presents (don’t forget to stick a Blu-ray player on your list for Santa) and the BBC’s commercial arm is hoping to cash in with this Torchwood collection featuring all four series of the hit Sci-Fi series.
The collection is available in both DVD and Blu-ray format but this review relates to the Blu-ray edition.
While the release is sold as a boxset, it’s actually just the existing standalone releases wrapped up in a flimsy, top-opening cardboard box that’s unlikely to survive repeated use.
The re-use of the previous releases means the covers, menus and discs lack a common style and features are inconsistent – only Miracle Day includes Audio Menus and Audi Description.
For the better part of £50 (RRP is higher) I’d have hoped for a heavier duty slipcase and, at the very least, consistent disc art. BBC Worldwide and 2Entertain deserve a finger wagging for cutting costs in such an obvious way.
Between the opening episode (Everything Changes) to the close of Miracle Day, Torchwood loses most of its cast, changes tone, shape and format and yet remains one of the most inventive and enjoyable shows British TV has produced in recent years.
Watching the four series back to back is both a reminder of the genius of show creator Russell T Davies and the ease with which the BBC will turn its back on a successful show once its internal champions move on to new jobs.
Future generations of TV fans and pundits will wonder at the management folly of throwing the show’s best series (Children of Earth) away with a one week run in the height of summer and forcing the production team to find a co-funder while throwing away £20m on yet another singing competition.
British TV is being propelled down a creative blind-alley of safe formats, often bought in, with little to distinguish them from a dozen other indentikit offerings.
Torchwood is proof we can do better, especially when someone with passion is allowed to oversee the entire creative process.
In a sane world, creative people like Davies would run the BBC while the armies of pen-pushers who currently do so found fulfilment as management consultants.
As with all TV releases we look to the extras package for our value for money.
In the case of Torchwood, not only does your money get you four seasons of quality, high octane drama, it also snags you a list of extras which shames most film and TV releases.
Series One includes cutdown versions of Torchwood Declassified, audio commentaries, out takes, deleted scenes, episode guides and a John Barrowman video diary.
Series Two offers much the same plus a The Life and Deaths of Captain Jack feature.
Less impressively, Children of Earth features a single 30 minute Declassified and a 5 minute audiobook extract, essentially an advert for something else Worldwide would like you to spend money on.
Miracle Day contains commentaries on episodes 1 and 10, short cast and crew interviews, special effects and behind the scenes Declassifieds, a deleted scenes/out takes package and the 26 minute Web of Lies ‘motion comic’ which was available to purchase from iTunes during the show’s transmission.
All of this adds up to a pretty decent extras bundle to compliment in excess of 34 hours of Torchwood episodes.
So should you be adding this to your Santa list?
We were hoping for the ultimate Torchwood release but this sadly isn’t it.
Should Miracle Day turn out be the last hurrah for Captain Jack and Gwen we’d expect BBC Worldwide to revisit the series with a proper, uniformly styled collection.
If you don’t already own the first three series this release offers great value but if you own at least two of the previous releases you can complete the collection a lot cheaper.
Our verdict: 4/5