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At the same time that I found out about the new series of Doctor Who, I was told about the spin off series, Torchwood. The series takes place in the same universe as Doctor Who, but is completely Earth based.
The story goes like this: In a ep of the new Doctor Who, the Doctor finds himself battling an alien life form that wants to kill Queen Victoria during her visit to the Torchwood Estates. As you might expect, the Doctor saves the day (and the Queen) but Her Royal Majesty takes issue with the Doctor's reckless attitude and decrees him an enemy of the Empire. In accordance with this decree, she founds the Torchwood Institute, in deference to the name of the estate, whose sole purpose is to defend the British Empire from alien attack and especially from the Doctor.
While references abound for Torchwood in the new Doctor Who series, Torchwood takes direct action during the introductory ep of Tenth Doctor, The Christmas Invasion, when the Prime Minister authorizes Torchwood to destroy an alien ship. In a later ep of Doctor Who, the Doctor directly encounters Torchwood and finds out that they defend the Empire from alien attacks by scavenging alien technology and using it against future threats. In this same episode, Torchwood unleashes a resurgence of the Cybermen on Earth. In the ensuing battle, Torchwood is destroyed. At this point, one of the Doctor's former companions, Capt. Jack Harkness takes over Torchwood, moves it from London to Cardiff, Wales, and re-makes the organization (it's third incarnation) into a more empathic, less aggressive, morally grounded version.
If you were to take Angel, The X-Files, Men In Black, and Doctor who, put them in a blender and turn it on high and you'd get Torchwood. I find Torchwood more appealing than it's parent program because of the darker subject matter, as well as the morally flawed characters. The interplay between the Torchwood team alone is fascinating to watch. While I would recommend Doctor Who to any sci-fi fan, I would recommend Torchwood to my friends. For some reason, that cynical, wise ass attitude would work as well for my friends, as it does for me.