Why Torchwood USA is a Terrible Idea

The Hollywood Reporter broke the story that apparently FOX is developing a U.S. version of the popular BBC show Torchwood, which for the uninformed, is a Doctor Who spin-off with a more adult flavor. The good news apparently is that creator Russell T. Davies (who has some free time now that he’s left Doctor Who) will be writing, and series star John Barrowman might be reprising his role as Jack Harkness. Of course, there’s no telling if this move is a real attempt to bring the Who-verse to American audiences, or if it’s just a case of someone thinking “Ooh! CSI Cardiff! Grab that!” Still, my knee-jerk reaction (apparently shared by a lot of the show’s fans, judging by the Internet buzz so far) is that this is a terrible idea. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Remember the last time Doctor Who tried to come to America? It is a black mark on the franchise called the 1996 movie which featured the Eighth Doctor in San Fransisco. Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty.
  • Coupling. Blackpool (known stateside as the trainwreck Viva Laughlin). Teachers. Eleventh Hour. Life on Mars. Just a few examples of incredibly awesome British TV shows that became mediocre to horribly, horribly painful American TV shows. There are obviously exceptions to this – Queer as Folk comes to mind, and it was actually written by Russell T. Davies. But if you want an example of just how horribly Hollywood can mess something up, have a look at the American version of Coupling, which uses the exact same scripts and somehow manages to fail horribly.
  • FOX. Really. FOX? Really? Because they have such a great track record of nurturing cult science fiction shows. < irony > On the bright side, at least Joss Whedon isn’t writing this one. < / irony >

I’m all for sharing the Doctor Who love with American audiences, but I think this is probably a case of: If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.  Otherwise we’re going to have Torchwood: Miami starring David Caruso, or better yet – a Doctor Who reboot starring Zac Efron as the Twelfth Doctor.

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