FOX developing American-ized Torchwood

by Paul William Tenny

torchwood.jpgThe series of tubes is abuzz with news originally reported by James Hibberd that FOX is developing an American-ized version of Torchwood. Rather than just shamelessly rewriting somebody else's news (I see a lot of people doing this and it's embarrassing), I'll leave the factual reporting to Hibberd and slip into some more useful analysis instead.

I actually disagree with some things I'm seeing on Twitter, where people are saying that Torchwood is a bad fit for FOX because of how FOX has historically treated sci-fi shows. This was true with Firefly and certainly true with other shows, but it's not at all accurate when it comes to the past few years. FOX has been giving underperforming shows like Dollhouse and Terminator: SCC more slack than they probably deserved.

And that's coming from a big Joss Whedon fan and someone who liked what he saw with Dollhouse, although Terminator was junk that deserved to die.

Shows that perform well in the ratings will stick around no matter where they are or what they are, which includes FOX. Beating up on them at this point is pretty misguided. If anything with all the rope that FOX gave Dollhouse, one could make the argument (backed by facts) that FOX is the best network of the four for this. ABC probably doesn't care, CBS doesn't need it, and NBC wouldn't know what to do with it.

That said, I'm concerned that some of the original producers have been attached. Torchwood suffered from a lack of dramatic writing talent and long term vision. That kind of failure is alarming when you consider that the show's creator is going to write the pilot and also produce. Russ Davies is a talented guy but with all respect to him and the British television industry, this is not the minor leagues.

I fear that Davies is in over his head here. I don't believe he's ever been involved in such a demanding situation. American industry will not tolerate a show that takes a year off to do a mini-series to figure itself out, one that kills off 80% of its cast, nor will it be satisfied with an eight or ten episode run per year. Davies and his producers are going to struggle to produce 22-24 episodes every single year (assuming they get an order that big) and they certainly aren't going to be able to do it with the handful of writers they use on British shows.

These guys are going to have to hire a real writing staff, manage much larger budgets, work for much longer periods of time, and Davies is going to have to learn how to run a writers room with more than three people in it (if he's running, which actually isn't all that clear). It doesn't seem fair to place such burdens on people who have never dealt with that. This show will need an experienced American showrunner, period.

I look forward to seeing what comes of the pilot, but they mountain they've got to climb is substantial and not to be ignored.

in News, Television


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