Nothing seen from two seasons of Torchwood comes close to Children of Earth, a story told in five days (five full hours).
Taut, lush, big and deeply satisfying, it has the look and feel of an epic action movie, with the time and space to make the characters sympathetic and to base the shock and awe mostly on the psychology of their acts, rather than the pyrotechnics of special effects.
The Torchwood team of alien battlers is down to three members -- Capt. Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), Ianto Jones (Gareth David-Lloyd) and Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) -- who each give stirring performances, as do such guest stars as Peter Capaldi as the bureaucrat John Frobisher, who's thrown into government negotiations with a deadly threat to Earth's children, a race called the 456.
Despite the intensity of the story line, divided skillfully into five acts, it even manages some of Torchwood's signature sexiness and wry humor. It's the perfect start to BBC America's HD channel.
Torchwood: Children Of Earth premieres on BBC America on Monday July 20 at 9 p.m.