“I bet the ranks were very grateful”

In high school I was a devoted “Doctor Who” fan. Then I recovered, and for years afterwards I scrupulously avoided any taint of Whovian fandom. But ever since reading about John Barrowman in Billy Masters, I have nursed a secret desire to watch “Torchwood.”

I can now report that “Torchwood” is, in many ways, a patch on “Doctor Who.” For example, the TARDIS is bigger on the inside than on the outside, but Torchwood has its own morgue. Advantage: Torchwood.

And maybe this dates me (I mean, reveals me as someone who grew up watching TV in the 1980s), but I get a big thrill out of seeing a queer male character at the helm of a formulaic alien procedural. In a serious mood of scholarly inquiry, I recently sacrificed several hours to the new “Doctor Who” and ascertained that Jack was introduced as bisexual from the start, which for some reason I found extremely gratifying. Conversely, or perhaps correlatively, the most terrible insult on “Torchwood” is to call someone Jack’s “part-time shag.” The Doctor’s nemesis was a natty Time Lord in a Nehru jacket; Jack’s is a heavily armed ex-boyfriend (who retorts as above to Jack’s protest that “I worked my way up through the ranks”). “Doctor Who” was about strong but largely unspoken bonds of loyalty and affection; “Torchwood” is about snogging. Other advantages: Eve Myles’s huge, gorgeous eyes (one can see the complete circle of each iris, surrounded by plenty of white, at a certain point in every episode). Eve Myles’s tiny bit of pudgy chin. The amazing things Eve Myles can do with her face.