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New ‘Torchwood’ Season Shows How Civilization Snaps

The five-part miniseries has already been dubbed as ‘epic’ by many critics

BBC America is prepping itself for a huge week of “Torchwood” beginning July 20 when the third season miniseries, “Children of Earth,” makes its way across the pond.

Critical praise has been lavished on the latest outing of the “Doctor Who” spinoff story despite concerns a shortened season means BBC might be looking to step away from the adult drama.

But creator Russell T. Davies says that simply not the case.

“It was a story I’d had in mind for ages, [and] I”m just glad the BBC gave me a canvas big enough to tell the tale,” Davies said, according to press materials provided by BBC America. “Underneath the sci-fi and the aliens, there’s something very relevant to the world, I hope. The way we sit in the west, and watch footage of atrocities in different countries, and imagine it’s all so far away and so impossible here. Which is a nice, comfy lie we tell ourselves.”

In developing “Children of Earth,” where aliens with possible hostile intent come to the planet and use the children as a way to communicate with the rest of the world, Davies said he wanted to show how life as we know it could easily crumble.

“I wanted to tell a story in which civilization snaps, in which we turn on ourselves, in which nothing is safe,” Davies said. “Plenty of people live like that, on this planet. In this story, it’s Britain’s turn.”

Putting together “Children of Earth” was a solid team effort between Davies and writers John Fay and James Moran, and both producers Peter Bennett and Julie Gardner, and director Euros Lyn.

“Lots of thrillers are written by just one writer, but we had three, across five episodes,” Davies said. “Which meant a lot of e-mailing and late-night phone calls. But we really worked as a team, all locked in one room, to thrash out the storyline and create the characters, and that’s my favorite way of working.

“We all knew the tone and the ambition of the piece, and we all aimed in the same direction,” he said.

The miniseries, although not a typical full season, explores deeply some of the intimate details of the lives of the main characters, including Capt. Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) and Ianto Jones (Gareth David-Lloyd). At the same time, the relationship between the two becomes even deeper.

“It just grew naturally out of the scripts and performances from John and Gareth,” Davies said. “And it’s such a rich area — the sheer will-they-or-won’t-they tension of two men getting closer. But again, you can come to ‘Torchwood’ as a new viewer and follow their relationship from the start, you won’t get lost. And it’s honestly a pleasure to write for two such fine actors. They make the whole process a delight.”

“Children of Earth” starts July 20 beginning at 9 p.m. ET on BBC America, and a new episode will air each night that same week beginning at 9 p.m. with an encore of the previous night’s episode set for 8 p.m.

Also on July 20, BBCA will allow fans to catch up on “Torchwood,” whether as a refresher or as an introduction into the hit series, with “Torchwood: Inside the Hub” beginning at 8 p.m.

Even if viewers can’t catch the recap of the series, Davies said it’s perfectly OK. “Children of Earth” is designed for both new and old viewers alike.

“There are fleeting references to the past, but from the moment it starts, we’re telling a brand new story,” Davies said. “It’s been deliberately written so that no one will be lost — and at the same time, the faithful viewer will discover so much more about the members of the Torchwood team. There are plenty of rewards for the long-term fan.”

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