Jack Harkness

Jack Harkness

] Witnessing the murder of his colleague Owen, Jack shoots his killer in the forehead, killing him in an act of swift revenge.cite episode|title=Reset|series=Torchwood|credits=Russell T Davies, J.C. Wilsher, Ashley Way|network=BBC Three|airdate=2008-02-13] Whilst the Doctor scolds Jack for joining the Torchwood Institute (an organisation he perceives as xenophobic and aggressive), Jack maintains that he reformed the Institute in the Doctor's image; Jack himself had initially been critical of the moral failings of a 19th century Torchwood.

The character's unexpected popularity with a multitude of audiences, would later shape his appearances both as a traditional "action hero" and as a positive role model for younger viewers.cite web|last=Elliott|first=Sean|title=Exclusive interview: 'Doctor Who' & 'Torchwood' series producer Julie Gardner teases next seasons of each show|work=iF Magazine|publisher=Electric Entertainment|date=2007-07-30|url=http://www.ifmagazine.com/feature.asp?article=2267|format=|doi=|accessdate=2007-07-30] Expanding upon his action hero role, the character would develop some supernatural abilities in "Torchwood", primary among them a seemingly absolute immortality (either through resurrection and invulnerability), the ability to heal others through kissing, and also a limited degree of telepathy. Jack also alludes in one episode to evolved "51st century pheromones", which make him more sexually attractive. Russell T Davies referred to a scene in "Last of the Time Lords" as promoting a theory that Jack may one day become recurring character "the Face of Boe" (a large, mysterious disembodied head in a jar) as a consequence of his immortality and slow aging.cite web|title="Last of the Time Lords" Podcast|url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediaselector/check/doctorwho/ram/313_commentary?size=au&bgc=CC0000&nbram=1&bbram=1&nbwm=1&bbwm=1|date=2007-07-27|accessdate=2007-06-30] The Face first appeared in 2005 episode "The End of the World", appearing fully three times and maintaining a presence through to the end of the 2007 series. When asked how he felt to hear that Jack was 'destined' to become the Face of Boe, Barrowman describes himself and Tenth Doctor actor David Tennant as being "so excited" to the extent where they "jumped up screaming", claiming "It was probably the most excitable moment we had during the shooting of that series of "Doctor Who". It was amazing."

Critical reception and impact

Following the character's initial introduction in the revived series 1 of "Doctor Who", the character became incredibly popular with fans,cite video|people=Russell T Davies, David Tennant, John Barrowman, Freema Aygeman, Anthony Head|year=2007|date=June 26|title=Doctor Who Confidential, "'Ello, 'Ello, 'Ello"] [cite news|first=Marcus|last=Casey|title=Captain Jack's a real gas|url=http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,23739,21971088-5003422,00.html|publisher=couriermail.com.au|date=2007-07-27|accessdate=2007-06-27] cite news|first=Dave|last=Itzkoff|authorlink=Dave Itzkoff|title=Sexed-Up British Intelligence|url=http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F6091EF63D550C768CDDAA0894DE404482|publisher="The New York Times"|date=2006-05-25|accessdate=2007-06-27|quote=...Jack proved so popular, he was granted his own spin-off series, "Torchwood"...|format=Fee required] to the extent that Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner created a spin-off series, "Torchwood", primarily centred around the character. "The Times" described the undeniable success of the character as having propelled actor John Barrowman to "National Treasure status".cite news|first=Cailtlin|last=Moran|authorlink=Caitlin Moran|title=Captain Jack's back!|url=http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/tv_and_radio/article1926461.ece|work=Times Online|publisher="The Times"|date=2007-06-16|accessdate=2007-06-27] Part of Jack's mystique was his sex appeal, swashbuckling heroism and sexual appetite.cite web|url=http://www.afterelton.com/archive/elton/TV/2006/10/torchwood.html|title="Torchwood": Captain Jack Gets His Own Show|accessdate=2007-06-27|date=2006-10-24] In anticipation of the character's return to "Doctor Who" in series 3 after a successful run in the first series of "Torchwood", mainstream media hailed his return.

In the media, Jack is described as both the "first openly gay companion" and as a "hunky bisexual". [cite news|first=Ian|last=Burrell|authorlink=Ian Burrell|title=BBC to screen 'Dr Who for adults' as new spin-off show|url=http://news.independent.co.uk/media/article320110.ece|publisher="The Independent"|date=2005-08-16|accessdate=2007-06-27] Jack's notability is largely due to his mainstream representation of a bisexual man in science fiction television, for whom sexual identity is "matter-of-fact", and not an issue. The ordinariness with which Jack's orientation is regarded within "Doctor Who" embodies part of a political statement about changing societal views of homosexuality. The distinct flexibility of Jack's sexuality contributed directly towards the character's popularity and public interest. The overtness of Jack's sexuality broke new grounds, the labels "pansexual" and "omnisexual" being applied to the character on occasion. In "The Parting of the Ways", Jack kissed both Rose and the Doctor on the lips, the latter being the first same-sex kiss in the history of the programme. Despite the boldness of the first LGB character in the series' run, there has been very little uproar about the character, although there was some controversy at the time of Jack's introduction. [cite news|title=Doctor Who scenes cut for being 'too horrible'|url=http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/entertainment/film_and_tv/s/159/159082_dr_who_scenes_cut_for_being_too_horrible.html|publisher="Manchester Evening News"|date=2005-08-15|accessdate=2007-06-27] Speculating, Barrowman tries to link Jack's popularity with this portrayal, noting "I think audiences just get Jack because he's honest ... to finally see a character who doesn't care who he flirts with, I think is a bit refreshing." Jack has also been cited in America to contrast the portrayals of non-heterosexual characters in mainstream television in the US and the UK. Gary Scott Thompson, producer of the 2008 revival of "Knight Rider", said, "If I could use Jack in "Torchwood" as a role model—I would absolutely use him as a role model—I love his conflictedness about ... everybody," and added, "We can't get away with what they do. ... America is extremely [prudish] , and we're living in a Republican regime, where it becomes even more [so] ." [cite news |first=Mike |last=Syzmanski |title="Knight"’s Poitier Still Lesbian? |url=http://www.scifi.com/scifiwire/index.php?category=1&id=60510 |work=Sci Fi Wire |date=2008-09-25 |accessdate=2008-09-27 ]

The presence of the character in prime time television sparked discussion of the nature of bisexuality in a number of outlets where normally it is dismissed or overlooked.cite interview|last=Barrowman|first=John|subjectlink=John Barrowman|interviewer=Jonathan Ross|title=Jonathan Ross|program=BBC Radio 2|date=2006-10-21] cite episode|title=Interview with John Barrowman|url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0686373/|series=Richard & Judy|network=Channel 4|airdate=2006-01-09] cite journal|last=Yoshino|first=Kenji|authorlink=Kenji Yoshino|title=The Epistemic Contract of Bisexual Erasure|journal=Stanford Law Review|volume=52|issue=2|pages=353–461|publisher=Stanford Law School|month=January | year=2000|url=http://www.kenjiyoshino.com/articles/epistemiccontract.pdf|doi=10.2307/1229482|format=PDF] Channel4.com cites Jack as a positive role model for gay and bisexual teenagers,cite web|url=http://www.channel4.com/health/microsites/L/lgb_teens/boys/are-you-gay.html|title=Am I gay or bisexual?|accessdate=2007-06-27|publisher=Channel4.com's LGB Teens Health site] where little had been present for this audience in years gone by and subsequently leading to a greater culture of tolerance. Readers of AfterElton.com, a gay mens' website, voted Jack the tenth best gay or bisexual television character of all time, the poll itself ultimately being won by "Queer as Folk" character Brian Kinney (also the product of Russell T Davies). The website praised Jack - one of only two bisexual characters on the list of 25 - for being having both "tough" and "tender" sides to his personality, as seen in the "Torchwood" episode "Captain Jack Harkness". [cite web|date=2007-11-29|url=http://www.afterelton.com/people/2007/11/top25gayTVcharacters?page=0%2C7|title=Readers' Choice: The Top 25 Gay TV Characters Revealed!|accessdate=2008-01-13|last=Jensen|first=Michael|format=|work=AfterElton.com] Amongst science fiction characters, Jack also topped another AfterElton rundown of top characters, beating "Hellblazer"'s John Constantine for the top spot, commenting upon Jack's representation of a "'post-gay' approach to sexual themes" and awarding him a full 10/10 for cultural significance. [cite web |url=http://www.afterelton.com/print/2008/1/tenbestscificharacters?page=0%2C4&loc=interstitialskip|title=Ten Best Gay and Bisexual Science Fiction Characters|accessdate=2008-01-21 |date=2008-01-20 |format= |work= AfterElton.com]

Jack has gone on to become a recognisable figure in the British public consciousness, and therefore has attracted some parody. The character of Jack Harkness has been parodied several times on the satirical impressionist television show "Dead Ringers". Played by Jon Culshaw, the show pokes fun at his bisexuality and apparent campness, as well his melodramatic personality in "Torchwood". In one sketch, he walks bizarrely towards the camera, kissing a policeman as he passes him. [cite episode|title=Season 7, Episode 1|series=Dead Ringers|credits=Jon Plowman, Jon Culshaw, Jan Ravens, Phil Cornwell, Kevin Connelly, Mark Perry|network=BBC|airdate=2007-02-27] In another sketch, he can be seen having a threesome with two Cybermen, [cite episode|title= Season 7, Episode 6|series=Dead Ringers|credits=Jon Plowman, Jon Culshaw, Jan Ravens, Phil Cornwell, Kevin Connelly, Mark Perry|network=BBC|airdate=2007-03-29] classic "Doctor Who" villains dating back to 1966.cite serial|title=The Tenth Planet|series=Doctor Who|credits=Kit Pedler, Derek Martinus|network=BBC|airdate=1966-10-08]

The character's popularity with young children has led to the creation of a Captain Jack action figure. The first figurine depicts Jack as he appeared in his introductory episodes, [cite web|url=http://www.forbiddenplanet.co.uk/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=31618|title=Captain Jack Harkness - £6.25 |accessdate=2007-10-04|work=Forbidden Planet International] specifically "The Empty Child", in RAF uniform and carrying a sonic blaster. However, a second "Doctor Who" figure of Jack appears as part of its 2008 wave of repackaged Series 1-3 figures, revising its depiction of Jack to better match his later greatcoat and revolver look as seen in "Torchwood" and later "Doctor Who" appearances. [cite web|url=http://www.forbiddenplanet.co.uk/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=45038|title=Doctor Who 2008 Wave 1-2-3 - Captain Jack Harkness with Revolver|accessdate=2008-05-30|work=ForbiddenPlanet.com] The company GetRetro and their retail division, SciFiCollector, have also released a Jack action figure as part of their first wave of "Torchwood" action figures. [cite web |url= http://www.action-figure.com/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=22481|title= GetRetro Gets Torchwood |accessdate=2008-05-06|work=Action-Figure.com|date=2008-01-14] [cite web|url=http://www.play.com/Gadgets/Gadgets/4-/5541028/Torchwood-Captain-Jack-Harkness-Figure/Product.html|title=Torchwood: Captain Jack Harkness Figure|accessdate=2008-06-04|work=Play.com]

References

External links

* [http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/Jack_Harkness Jack Harkness] at [http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/ "The TARDIS Index File" website]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/characters/jack.shtml Captain Jack Harkness on the BBC's "Doctor Who" website]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/torchwood/sites/team/pages/captain_jack.shtml Captain Jack Harkness on the BBC's "Torchwood" website]
*imdb character|0009589|Captain Jack Harkness


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