Politics and Torchwood: Children of Earth

torchwoodI enjoy a good polemic and I also appreciate didactic drama. But I’m not so serious that I don’t adore well crafted pap.

Often people ask why a seemingly otherwise balanced and normal man watches Doctor Who and, by extension, Torchwood. I don’t have kids after all and I’m not an obsessed sci-fi geek. When I dress up as Doctor Who (as I have done only once in the last decade), I do it ironically.

My passion for Doctor Who is easily explained: it’s escapist. When I watch an episode, I cease to be a grown up with adult cares. I am transported far away from everything every day. I don’t generally pick nits or worry about continuity errors. The plot holes can be galaxy-sized for all I care, as long as it’s fun. It’s about being told a story. I lap it up. I go with the flow and enjoy the schmaltz and drama and, momentarily I guess, become a little bit childlike.

But watching Torchwood this past week has been a little traumatic. Yes, it was very silly in some senses. I wept too. More than once. But it was neither proper polemic or serious informative drama. It was brilliant, diverting, classy television. I loved it.

But one thing about politics keeps coming back to me. So often, we’re asked to look past the personalities of our politicians. Technically under our system we don’t elect individuals as Prime Ministers but parties to form governments. My rational brain leans to judging policies not people.

But when something goes wrong or something goes on in private, Torchwood reminded us, the personality, character and values of the person we call our Prime Minister really is vital. Policy only goes so far. You’ve got to trust the person too.

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