TV’s ‘Torchwood’ turns up the heat

Sci-Fi & Fantasy

John Barrowman and Eve Myles star in TorchwoodCaptain Jack is back.Not Sparrow. The other one. Harkness, from “Doctor Who.”John Barrowman is the star of “Torchwood,” the “Who” spinoff that has his popular character leading a young group of alien hunters including Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles, pictured above with Barrowman). It premieres Saturday night on BBC America and is billed as a sexier, edgier cousin to the tradionally family-friendly “Doctor Who.”

Eyebrows across Britain and, later, the world were raised when it became apparent that Barrowman’s character, a suave con man from the far future, played the field – both sides of it. It soon became obvious he was smitten with both the Doctor (then played by Christopher Eccleston of “Heroes” fame) and his then-assistant, Rose Tyler (played by Billie Piper).The Doctor and Rose first met Jack during one of their time-hopping trips to Blitz-era London, where the rogue was trying to sell them an alien artifact. When his ship was destroyed, he joined the TARDIS crew for a while before getting left behind in the chaos of an alien invasion.Jack reunites with the Doctor near the end of “Doctor Who’s” third season, which is currently airing Friday nights on The Sci Fi Channel.What does the name “Torchwood” mean? First, it’s an anagram of its parent program’s name, “Doctor Who.” Second, it’s the name of a house in Scotland where the Doctor (in the incarnation played by David Tennant) saved Queen Victoria from a werewolf. She was so spooked by the incident she banished the Doctor from British territory for all time (HA!) and promptly established the Torchwood Institute to defend England from supernatural threats.Those who have seen the show say it fills the thematic void left behind after “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel” and “The X-Files” left the airwaves, so check it out. I’ve still got two preview DVDs to give away that include clips from “Torchwood” as well as “Doctor Who,” “Robin Hood,” “Hex” and other BBC America shows. E-mail me with your mailing address and one can be yours!

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