July 20, 2009 at 05:15 PM EDT

It’s premiering tonight, and I’ve got to warn you — it’s too good! Torchwood: Children of Earth is everything a miniseries should be: dramatic, suspenseful, well-acted, tightly scripted, and it drops bombs you will not even begin to believe. As those of us in the Whoniverse already know, Torchwood is a Doctor Who spinoff about an extra-governmental agency that investigates paranormal beings and doings, and basically just makes sure that whatever’s out there, doesn’t get us down here. Torchwood is headed by the rakish, roguish (is there a difference?) Capt. Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), and after many a grisly team member death, pretty much only has Capt. Jack’s boyfriend Ianto Jones (Gareth David-Lloyd) and the awesome Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) still in its employ. (Every once in awhile the Doctor himself dropped in for an assist, but you can hardly count on that.)

If you know a Torchwood fan—and as dweeby as we are, you assuredly already know whether you do—they’ve practically been hyperventilating over Children of the Earth because no one in this country has seen a new Torchwood episode in well over a year. At any rate, if you do know such a tortured soul, do not tell them I told you this: I’ve already seen the whole thing. That’s right, I stayed up way past my bedtime a week ago Sunday night watching the screeners, thinking of course that I’d savor them, and watch an episode a night. No such restraint. I ended up marathoning the whole thing, completely mesmerized. The not-too-spoilery backstory is that while all of the world’s children suddenly freeze at precisely the same moment, the British government puts an officially sanctioned hit on the Torchwood team members, for reasons unknown. It’s all very How-can-Torchwood-save-us-if-they-can’t-save-themselves? But the real intrigue, the SPOILERY stuff folks will be talking about, is Capt. Jack. The character’s always lacked, well, character. He couldn’t walk the straight and narrow if he tried, so it’s probably for the best that trying doesn’t even occur to him. Still, he’s always come across as largely harmless. No more. The stuff we find out about our beloved charming wag is stunning and will completely shift our perception of him.

I won’t say more, both because I don’t want to ruin it, but know this: Torchwood: Children of the Earth airs tonight at 8pm on BBC America. Any of you excited?


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