The first season of Torchwood, a spin-off from Doctor Who, was pretty hit or miss, with more shows that just didn't work than ones that did. The main problem was the horrific writing on several episodes and the idiotic plots. I didn't have much hope for season two, but surprisingly the show takes a giant leap forward in terms of quality. The stories are now well thought out, the sex isn't just thrown in for shock value the way it was in the first season, and the whole season holds together as a cohesive whole. If you gave up on show after season one I wouldn't blame you, but you should give it another try.
When PC Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) is taken off a murder investigation at the order of the mysterious organization Torchwood, she starts looking into the just who and what they are. What she discovers is an organization that is "outside the government, beyond the police." They're charged with finding alien technology and exploring its uses along with handling any extraterrestrial baddies who might happen to show up. The group consists of computer specialist Toshiko Sato (Naoko Mori), medical officer Dr. Owen Harper (Burn Gorman), and all around handyman Ianto Jones(Gareth David-Lloyd). They are lead by Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), a mysterious man who can not die. Impressed that Gwen was able to not only track down and infiltrate their headquarters but also that she's handy in an investigation, she's invited to join the group and now spends her days (and nights) tracking down aliens.
In this season Torchwood really found its voice, and I attribute a lot of that to the fact that series creator Russell T. Davies is no longer writing the episodes. The first season spent a lot of time loudly proclaiming that it was okay to show homosexual sex on TV, and whatever story they were telling be damned. This time around the homosexuality is still present, yes, guys still kiss, but it's more natural and actually fits in with the stories. That's a great improvement.
The quality of the stories this season is much, much higher. There are still a couple of missteps, but in general the writers know what to do with the characters and what type of tales work the best. There's a lot more heart to this season, with several episodes that really tug at the heartstrings without going overboard. One such episode deals with a soldier from 1918, Tommy. He was taken from a hospital bed by the Torchwood of that era and frozen for the day that he'd be needed. Every year he's thawed out and revived for a single day and over the past few days that he's been awake, Toshiko has become quite fond of the doughboy. When a rift in time opens up however, Tommy is the only one who can close it, but that will mean going back to his own time. Not only that, but it's determined that he'll be sent back to the front lines in France, suffer shell shock, and be executed for cowardice. How can Toshiko convince him to go back, knowing all of this?
It's frequently mentioned that working for Torchwood is extremely dangerous, and they not only mention that fact but illustrate it this season. People get hurt and killed, even sympathetic characters, in this season which really ratchets up the tension and suspense on the show. Not only that, but it creates a moral dilemma for Captain Jack. He can't die, which makes sending his friends into dangerous situations all the more difficult. They're risking everything while he's not risking anything at all.
Bringing more emotional depth to the characters, telling tighter stories, and getting rid of the really stupid aspects that plagued the first season, this second season of Torchwood is a winner.
The Blu-ray Disc: