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RTD & Julie Gardner Series 4 Interview

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« on: November 05, 2010, 07:08:33 pm »

Its a bit of a long one, but a great read...

How did this collaboration with Starz come about for Season 4? Why now?

RUSSELL T. DAVIES: Well, Torchwood is a show thatís always stayed lively on its feet and always expanded, and this is just about as far as it can expand now. Itís a brand new audience and a brand new continent.

JULIE GARDNER: We moved out to L.A. a year ago, with BBC Worldwide Productions, so we were here just when the viewing figures were coming in from the U.K. for Children of Earth, and we were really excited by the reception that the title was getting. Russell had one particular story in mind, which we canít talk about, that he was burning to tell, and it fit in incredibly well, within the framework of what Torchwood was going to be for Season 4. It just felt right, with us being in L.A. and since Children of Earth was straining to be more global. There were American characters in there and there was a big society throughout. It was a natural extension of everything weíve done with the title.

What do you feel Starz will bring to Torchwood that fans of the show havenít yet been able to see?

DAVIES: Thereís a great ambition behind Starz to have contemporary pieces that are saying a lot about the world. As a drama, Torchwood is very ambitious. Starz is not after plain, domestic pieces, and weíd already started to do that with Children of Earth. That had a lot to say about society, and thatís what Starz latched on to. In terms of what we can do thatís new is that we can tell stuff on an international basis and have great American stories. A lot of it is going to be set in America and itís going to have an examination of America, an ambition thatís American and a thrust that goes with this nation thatís very exciting and truly contemporary. Letís be honest, certainly in the West, America is the dominant culture. It sends shockwaves across the whole of Europe. Itís a really interesting place to take the story, once you see what the story is. Weíre coming to the storyís heartland by bringing it here. Starz offers an enormous stage, and the confidence and freedom to tell the story that we want.

Will it change the look and feel of the show at all, or will fans of the show still recognize what they loved?

GARDNER: Theyíll completely recognize it, but weíre building on the work that weíve done before. When you look at it season by season, the show moved from channel to channel every year. Itís always reinvented itself and always stayed lively on its feet. You can still recognize it. Even though from Season 1 to where we are now is a very, very different show, thereís a flavor there that is very consistent.

What can you say about Season 4 and where youíre going to take the series?

DAVIES: Itís just heartfelt, really. What I mean by that is that the central issue goes to the heart of every one of us and every family. The questions it asks will cut right beneath your everyday life of work, sleep, food and family, and goes right to the heart of who we are and why weíre here. I think weíll challenge you and disturb you. Itís the intensity of that ambition thatís the most fascinating thing. That sounds really vague, but the moment you know the initial core concept, everything Iím saying will make sense and start to click into place in your brain. Youíll say, ďOh, right, I see where this is heading.Ē The questions never really stop. Thatís the fun of it. A whole 10 hours is a long time for a story to roll, but thereís that much power behind it. Itís self-generating, really. Itís very exciting. Itís a proper, intelligent examination of some very big issues.

Are you going to do anything to allow for the fact that you could have people tuning in now, who havenít ever seen the show before?

DAVIES: Absolutely! Iíve done it before. Children of Earth moved channels in Britain, so that was a new introduction for a whole primetime audience. And, I actually got experience doing that with Doctor Who, which I brought back after 16 years, for a new audience. Iím the perfect person to do it, really. Iím used to relaunching things and keeping the audience from the past, but always looking for a new audience. Every show should always do that. Every new season of a show should go out there and look for a new audience because all people should be watching.

Have you figured out how youíre going to do that?

DAVIES: The first episode was written last October, and that is the episode that Starz read and bought, so it very clearly didnít push them away. We went into the meeting with Starz with them knowing nothing about the history and mythology of Torchwood, and it did not push them away. They came to it as new viewers, new readers and new producers, and leapt on board straight away. Weíre delighted. Itís going to work, I promise.

What do you think it is about Captain Jack Harkness, and John Barrowman as an actor, that makes people want to follow him from season to season and network to network?

GARDNER: Heís just so charming. Heís fun and heís got such a glint in his eye. Heís a proper swash-buckling hero.

DAVIES: He is an unusual mix of being matinee idol handsome and, at the same time, very modern. Heís an openly gay man, playing an openly omni-sexual character. You canít say that of many shows, and he does that with such a glint in his eye, and so much cheek and charm.

GARDNER: Thereís so much relish to him.

DAVIES: He does the role with so much joy that prejudice canít even enter the room for a second. Itís just glorious.

How international will the story be this season? Will a lot of it be in America?

GARDNER: Yes, a lot will be. We have some U.K. settings and stories, and then a lot of it moves to America. Thatís what we mean by international. Thereís a big global threat at the heart of it, and we see the implications play out in those two countries, predominantly.

Are you going to be very specific to the locations youíre using in the States?

DAVIES: I hope so. The ambition is to shoot in Los Angeles, but that is yet to be confirmed. Any place can double up as a number of places. There will be scenes set in Washington, certainly, but we wonít go to Washington to shoot. No one does that anymore. But, we have a very experienced production and design team, so weíll be able to do that. Itís exciting.

Often on this show, the humans are much more monstrous than the monsters are. Will that continue this season?

DAVIES: Thatís very true! Yes, I think the show works very well as an examination of the human race because thereís not really many other races we can examine. So, yeah, it is about us. I think all great science fiction comes down to that, in the end. The best metaphors in Buffy came down to, ďWhatís it like to be in high school, as a kid?Ē Itís the same with Torchwood: The New World. Itís about us and our decisions and our lives, and how we live with each other and how we die with each other. That forms the core of the story.

With Captain Jack left in such a dark place at the end of Children of Earth, how much will that affect him now? Has he recovered from what he went through?

DAVIES: Yeah. Heís a man whoís lived for thousands of years, and heís seen the beginning and the end of the universe. We will deal with it properly, sensibly and intelligently, but at the same time, the most important thing is to move on, as you would want for any of your friends. If your friend had suffered through a terrible time, you donít want to be the friend who sits there and says, ďTell us about your terrible time, all over again.Ē Move on, look up, start a new relationship, and look towards the horizon and the dawn. There will be a lot of that with Jack as well.

How much time will have passed?

DAVIES: Torchwood will have been off-air for two years, so I think it will feel like two years have passed. The script isnít that specific about it, but I think that two-year gap feels right.

How are the events of Season 3 affecting the writing of Season 4? Does it feel like you have a new canvas to write on?

DAVIES: It does. Children of Earth left things almost formatless. They had no base, no authority and no mission, a lot of the time, except to survive. I thought that was very successful, and that is very much the template of the new Torchwood. Theyíre not working for the government. Theyíre not working for the police. Theyíre very much underground and trying to survive. Theyíve taken extreme actions. They have friends, they have enemies and they have betrayals. I love that. What you saw in Children of Earth is the format now.

Do you know what sort of additions youíre looking to make to the cast?

DAVIES: Weíve got one script and very concrete storylines, so we know there are new regulars, new occasional guest stars and relatives of those characters. Itís all laid out, but weíre keeping it a secret. Weíre keeping it close to our chests.

Being such a fan favorite for so many people, do you have any plans to ever bring James Marsters back to the show?

DAVIES: We love him! It could happen, but Iíd have to say itís not going to happen. I donít want to raise any false hopes of people expecting that lovely man back on our screen. Heís so in-demand, heíll be back in someoneís screen, any day now. Heís simply not in this story, but we love him.

GARDNER: Heís fantastic.

DAVIES: The fact that heís willing to come back is just a huge compliment because the man is gorgeous.

GARDNER: In every way.

Can you talk about the writing staff that youíve put together for this?

GARDNER: Itís exciting. Itís a good staff.

DAVIES: Theyíre just about the top names in the industry.

GARDNER: We started with Jane Espenson. We have such a shared viewership with Jane. We love all the work that sheís done, and sheís watched Torchwood in previous years. Then, we were able to get Doris Egan, who we loved from Smallville and House. I was working with John Shiban over here already. Iím a big fan of Breaking Bad and all his work on The X-Files. And, we invited John Fay back, who had done such good work for us on Children of Earth. Thereís a mix of British writers and American writers for the next season.

How are you splitting up the writing?

DAVIES: The episodes are divvied up. I wrote the first episode. Thatís all I can definitely say.

Do you plan out the over-arcing story, and then the staff splits up the individual episodes?

GARDNER: Yes. We spent four weeks with them, working through all of the stories. The way the episodes divide up is that you can see writersí interests in particular characters or moments, so itís very organic.

What are the advantages that the mini-series format gives you, in telling an ongoing story, as opposed to doing individual episodes?

DAVIES: I love it. I simply prefer it. The monster-of-the-week stories were brilliant, in their day, in Torchwood, but having discovered this new format, I think itís more ambitious and intelligent. It allows you to stop and take pause and look at the world. Those ambitions are admirable. While Iím on the show, that will never stop. While the show keeps running, weíll never go back to the week-to-week stories.

Does that help keep things more fresh for you?

DAVIES: Yes, it does, thatís true. When I was working on Doctor Who, it was always one-off stories every week and I wanted to do something different, so I started working on The Sarah Jane Adventures, which is the childrenís spin-off of Doctor Who, and thatís one-off stories. I want different things on my plate and on my palate.

Are you going to take Torchwood: The New World to San Diego Comic-Con in 2011?

DAVIES: I would think so. We canít promise anything, but yes.

GARDNER: We love going to Comic-Con, so weíd love to go.

What do you get from that kind of feedback?

DAVIES: Itís like nothing else in the world. Itís an enormous buzz.

GARDNER: Itís just fun. And, thereís such love of the titles. Itís lovely to be there.

DAVIES: Theyíre like us. We love these shows. Theyíre fellow geeks. Thatís the brilliant thing. Itís a celebration of it. Itís fantastic.
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« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2010, 08:00:09 pm »

Its a great interview, but they havent really given anything away. What do they mean about the format of the show after series 3 though? I know they only made 5 episodes but what was so different about it.

Im not being stupid btw, I just havent seen it yet
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« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2010, 09:17:02 pm »

Sorry Torchwood! I'm out.
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« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2010, 09:23:21 pm »

Sorry Torchwood! I'm out.

What? Why?

Love the DD reference btw Tongue
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« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2010, 10:32:29 pm »

Its a great interview, but they havent really given anything away. What do they mean about the format of the show after series 3 though? I know they only made 5 episodes but what was so different about it.

Im not being stupid btw, I just havent seen it yet
The 5 episodes were one big story, telling 5 days following each other.
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« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2010, 10:55:26 pm »

The chance for further series sounds good. RTD seems happy to carry on for the time being assuming The New World does well. This is great news!
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« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2010, 11:31:27 pm »

My only fear is that it will stray too far from the Whoniverse now that its on Starz.

First season, we had Jack longing to see the Doc again.

Second season, Martha freakin' Jones showed up!

Third season, we had Gwens bone chilling speech, and a Martha reference, and plans for Mickey to appear.

I don't need a guest appearance from Matt Smith or anything, but as long as it gets subtly referenced, kind of like it did in season 1, I'll be happy.
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« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2010, 11:33:56 pm »

I feel like I am following you around these threads Tongue

To be honest, I really dont see there being any reference to DW in the new series. I dont think thats anything to do with Starz, I just dont think it would fit. Gwens speech made sense in S3, but thats been done now so without an appearance by someone from the main show, I dont see how they could make any reference without it seeming like its been hammered in for the sake of it
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« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2010, 11:45:16 pm »

I feel like I am following you around these threads Tongue

To be honest, I really dont see there being any reference to DW in the new series. I dont think thats anything to do with Starz, I just dont think it would fit. Gwens speech made sense in S3, but thats been done now so without an appearance by someone from the main show, I dont see how they could make any reference without it seeming like its been hammered in for the sake of it

Well, they could fit it in. Like there was a rumor that Martha would cameo because Rex is trying to find Jack Harkness, and is searching for people he's associated with. So that could be RTD's way of giving us a bit of the Whoniverse, and then moving on. And that would be completely fine with me. Im not saying it has to be a Whoniverse story, I just don't want it to seem like Torchwood never existed in the Whoniverse, and that this is truly a 4th season and not a 1st season rebooted.
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« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2010, 11:50:16 pm »

Oh right. I never knew about the Martha rumour. Well that could work and would fit the story if thats what they are doing.

I agree with you though that they should try and keep a link to the show. It needs to stand on its own two feet, but it needs to remember its roots too. Im sure if its wanted by RTD et al, then they will find a way to keep them intertwined
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« Reply #10 on: November 05, 2010, 11:57:04 pm »

Oh right. I never knew about the Martha rumour. Well that could work and would fit the story if thats what they are doing.

I agree with you though that they should try and keep a link to the show. It needs to stand on its own two feet, but it needs to remember its roots too. Im sure if its wanted by RTD et al, then they will find a way to keep them intertwined
That's all Im asking. Im not asking for the season 4 Doctor Who finale, lol I just don't want it forgotten about completely.
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« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2010, 12:15:01 am »

I heard a few bits of speculation about Martha being in it, but I thought that was just wishful thinking on the fans part. Do you know if there is any more to it, Iceman?
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« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2010, 12:15:59 am »

I heard a few bits of speculation about Martha being in it, but I thought that was just wishful thinking on the fans part. Do you know if there is any more to it, Iceman?
There was an insider on GB who claimed he knew that Martha was written in the script. Haven't heard anything besides that though.
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« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2010, 12:20:30 am »

I hate insiders. I want to be an insider Tongue

I suppose if she isnt filming L&O then a small cameo wouldnt be out of the question. Would be nice to see Martha again
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« Reply #14 on: November 06, 2010, 12:23:48 am »

I hate insiders. I want to be an insider Tongue

I suppose if she isnt filming L&O then a small cameo wouldnt be out of the question. Would be nice to see Martha again

I want to see her in SJA (like she was supposed to be in the s2 finale) but this isnt the thread for that discussion.
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« Reply #15 on: November 06, 2010, 11:06:31 am »

(((spoilers)))

Cool interview.
So, now it's on starzzzzzzzz (sorry, went all Resident Evil there!) does that mean we should expect Torchwood: Blood & Sand?
ie loads of violence & nudity?
I have absolutely no worries about the quality of it after watching Children of the Earth, just, please - no more killing children. Now I'm a parent, I found that almost unbearable to watch.
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« Reply #16 on: November 06, 2010, 05:48:16 pm »

I dont think it will reach the epic nudity heights of Blood and Sand. Not if they are keeping it on BBC1 over here anyways. They didnt even really have swearing in COE. I think they said '****' once.

Is there any news on what channel it will be on over here? Do you think they are likely to bump it back to 2 or 3?
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« Reply #17 on: November 06, 2010, 06:38:18 pm »

I'm hoping BBC1 or 2.  My main thoughts on scheduling have been who will air it first? :S
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« Reply #18 on: November 06, 2010, 06:42:59 pm »

I think it will still get a UK airing first. Id be very surprised if it didnt and I dont think it would sit well with the larger fanbase over here.

As for channels, I think it might get relegated. I cant see BBC1 having a ten week show running. They dont generally go in for that. At least, I cant think of anything like that recently off the top of my head, so it will most likely go back to BBC2. On the other hand though, if they want to capitalise on the ratings success of COE then they may keep it. I suppose those ratings come down to fanctors though and length and slots are going to be very different this time around. Its all very technical but I know its stuff like that that they will consider
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« Reply #19 on: November 06, 2010, 10:12:09 pm »

I would be surprised if they kept it on BBC1, for all the reasons that Roranicus put, but I hope that they do nonetheless. It deserves it and will really help in the ratings, and ultimately a decision about a potential Series 5
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