I is for Ianto Jones

A Change in the Programme

Originally, “I” was supposed to be “Its bigger on the inside,” but since my “blue” post was already about Doctor Who, I thought that it was better to find something else. Ianto Jones is a fictional character from the British television show, Torchwood. Yes, yes. It is a spin-off from Doctor Who series, but dammit, Russell Davies is an amazing writer.

Such a stern picture, but he is really a big teddy bear. Just ask Captain Jack. Image from http://www.blastr.com/2010/11/steven-moffat-wont-bring.php

Such a stern picture, but he is really a big teddy bear. Just ask Captain Jack. Image from http://www.blastr.com/2010/11/steven-moffat-wont-bring.php

Just the “help” (spoiler alerts)

Ianto is referred to as the General Support Officer for Torchwood Three based in Cardiff, Wales. This is the third division of Torchwood and they hunted aliens and their technology. Originally, the role of Ianto was to last for five episodes and then he was done, but he appealed so strongly to fans that lasted for three series (seasons). He was a quiet character that ran the administrative duties, made tea, and keep track of the ammunitions.

Ianto comes to the fore in episode four of season one. In “Cyberwoman,” we see him trying to save his girlfriend who has been partially assimilated as a Cyberman as seen in the Doctor Who episode, “Doomsday.” We all know that this will end badly, and Ianto looses his girlfriend. From this point, Ianto does not have much to hide, and we are treated to his sense of humor by way of one-liners peppering the scripts.  It is in the middle of series one, where we Davies hand in exploring human sexuality. What begins as a bit of a fling, turns into a deepening relationship between Ianto and Captain Jack.

Fun in the fauna. Image from http://lgbttvcouples.tumblr.com/

Fun in the fauna. Image from http://lgbttvcouples.tumblr.com/

We are lucky to see their relationship build, and see the tragic death of Ianto while trying to save ten percent of Earth’s children. The Ianto fans, however, lost their shit. They wrote letters. They wrote to anyone who was in any way connected to the Doctor Who franchise. They made websites. They called the writer and producer homophobic (really?). They designated donations in Ianto’s name for the BBC charity, Children in Need.

 A memorial at Mermaid quay for Ianto Jones. Image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ianto_Jones_memorial_at_Mermaid_Quay.jpg

A memorial at Mermaid quay for Ianto Jones. Image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ianto_Jones_memorial_at_Mermaid_Quay.jpg

The character of Ianto Jones made quite the impression in British cult television. Again, this is a science fiction drama that is relatable to the viewer through the character’s personal struggles. Geek, gay or both it is nice to see it all being portrayed as a normal attribute.

G is for Galatica, Battlestar Galatica

Art, back when it was all done by hand. Image from http://www.megomuseum.com/remego/battlestar.shtml

Art, back when it was all done by hand. Image from http://www.megomuseum.com/remego/battlestar.shtml

Fleeing from the Cylon tyranny, the last Battlestar Galactica leads a rag-tag fugitive fleet on a lonely quest… a shining planet known as Earth. ~ spoken by Lorne Greene at the close of each episode of the Glen A. Larson’s original Battlestar Galactica.

So, when normal geeky GenXers had already seen Star Wars the year before, my first exposure to Science Fiction and space travel was Battlestar Galactica and then Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (Erin Gray was such a hottie and still is. Gil Gerard.. eh). Looking back it now, it is almost painful to watch Battlestar. It was appropriate for the time, but now we have…

What does the SciFi Channel know about high productions?

In 2003, The SciFi (now SyFy) Channel showed a four-hour miniseries of a new Battlestar Galatica. announced that they have revived the 70’s space opera and would be adding it to their line-up. The purists decried the move as unacceptable, especially after seeing that Starbuck is now a girl (who I think would wipe the floor with the boy Starbuck.. Rawr!). Others could not see how SciFi could have high production value expectations that it takes for space shows. They already had Stargate SG-1, where would the bucks come from?

Could this really happen? No, but it makes awesome TV! Image from http://scienceinmyfiction.com/tag/battlestar-galactica/

Could this really happen? No, but it makes awesome TV! Image from http://scienceinmyfiction.com/tag/battlestar-galactica/

The bucks came from the show itself. Producer Ronald D. Moore gave us nitty, gritty life in space with real plot devices and was not afraid to mix things up. Think about trying to land a Battlestar on a planet to rescue prisoners from another ship. Balls, real balls!  He created an ensemble cast and crew that was critically acclaimed and stacked-up nominations, awards, and best of  lists. We had gone from geeky science fiction to one of the best dramas airing on television at the time. (In 2002, Fox aired and then cancelled Firefly before it had a chance.)

The legacy Ronald D. Moore gave goes beyond the spin-0ffs of Blood and Chrome and Caprica. He proved that a science fiction television show can be engaging beyond the special effects, the fantastic, and the parables of current events. He made science fiction appealing to an audience beyond geeks by making characters who are relatable by their struggles with religion, politics, and existence.

bsg-3