It's a long time since a tv progamme left me physically shaken and emotionally shocked and stunned, but Torchwood did it.
First of all, I'm glad that the BBC didn't shy away from the hideous nature of the conclusion and order writer Russell T Davies to make it all a bit more cosy, so congratulations to them for keeping the deep, deep darkness in.
Secondly, what a triumph of writing, casting (Peter Capaldi as the Government official unable to find the spine to do the right thing), music, from the tense, pacy stuff to haunting choral melodies, and effects (why is it that nothing makes you jump quite as much as a liberal splattering of green goo?) this was, all brought together by director Euros Lyn.
For me the scariest thing wasn't the druggie alien in the tank, frightening though its misty profile was, but the way in which the Government first covered up the past and then conjured up a truly evil plan to deal with the situation. The cleverness of the writing, tapping into our perception of the current political scene, even tapping into the Swine Flu anxiety, to create a chilling credibility, had me shaken. If I, who generally view politicians as good people, could find the fictitious Government's actions so easy to believe, we really do have a problem.
Having said that, I can't imagine that anybody really thinks that the real life Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg would ever preside over a Government that would hand over 10% of our kids to a random alien junkie, but everybody's favourite elephant has done a much better job than I ever could of showing exactly why we could so easily fall for that storyline in his reviews of the last few days. I do disagree, however, with Millennium's comparison of Denise with Harriet Jones. Davies shut off any avenue of hope for the future by ensuring that the discredited PM was replaced by the Jacqui Smith type who came up with the idea of selecting the kids from the failing schools.
While I'm on this theme, I don't quite understand why Gwen and Rhys don't, if this woman becomes PM, release the recordings they had tfrom the earlier discussions to discredit her.
I wondered how Aaron Sorkin might have tackled the plot challenge of an alien demanding the handover of children. I can't imagine that complying would ever have entered Jed Bartlet's head. I suspect that his administration would have concentrated on trying to either cure the alien species of its dependence or tried to produce a synthetic substitute.
What did defy credibility was that a Government could so quickly and efficiently organise a round up of all those children when they had spectacularly failed to kill three relatively unarmed people. Sure, they had the ingenious ideas of bombs in stomachs and encasing the man who can't die in concerete, showing him naked, handcuffed to a table first, but they could have saved themselves loads of trouble by simply making sure that their snipers had had eye tests. How many of them missed both Ianto and Gwen, leaving them free to turn up at the secret base where Jack was being held? How incompetent was it of the bosses not to circulate to the gate people pictures of Gwen and her husband as they turned up in the undertaker's car? Did their Welsh accents not ring any bells? Really!
As if the scary Government wasn't bad enough, the final conclusion, where Jack sacrificed his own grandson, was grotesque and something which actually hurt to watch. Stephen was here watching it with me. He had the help of a rather nice bottle of night harvested Aussie dolcetto to help with the pain and prevent him from having the ability to get behind the sofa, while I had to rely on Coke Zero.
Seriously, though, a programme which could render two blethers like us speechless was quite something.
And for the future - yes, there's potential for Jack to meet up with the Doctor in the future. The ending might have looked like the end for Torchwood, but I suspect the BBC will bring it back given the critical acclaim this series has received.