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British sci-fi spinoff or high-quality dinnerware?


Torchwood, which premiered Stateside this month on BBC America, is a spinoff of the British science-fiction series Doctor Who. The show details the adventures of the covert Torchwood Institute, which investigates crimes committed by alien races on Earth. The team is based in Cardiff, Wales, and is led by Captain Jack Harkness, a bisexual time traveler from the 51st century who’s described on the Torchwood Website as “dangerous, driven, and sexy.” In fact, the show has been heralded (and, in some cases, decried) for its frank explorations of sexuality, both human and alien. “Torchwood” is an anagram of “Doctor Who” and was originally a code name devised while the series was in development. According to the mythology of the show, however, the Torchwood Institute was founded by Queen Victoria, following a meeting with Doctor Who and a werewolf.

Deadwood, which premiered in 2004 and was canceled last year, was a popular HBO series created by David Milch. The show detailed life in the titular nineteenth-century Western gold-rush town, home to Al Swearengen (Ian McShane), an amoral saloon owner who often butted heads with the town’s sheriff, Seth Bullock (Timothy Olyphant). The show also featured the gravel-voiced Powers Boothe (who should not be confused with Treat Williams, the star of the unrelated WB drama Everwood). Laura Albert, perpetrator of a literary hoax involving the concocted pansexual persona JT LeRoy, was one of Deadwood’s better-known writers. Deadwood is also well known for its baroque dialogue and liberal use of expletives. The F-word, for example, was reportedly used 2,980 times in the show’s three-season run, though this tally has not been officially confirmed.

Ed Wood
Ed Wood was born on October 10, 1924, and became famous as America’s undisputed all-time-worst film director. His movies include Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959), Bride of the Monster (1955), Night of the Ghouls (1959), and Glen or Glenda (1953), a docudrama in which Wood starred as a transvestite (a lifestyle he pursued in his private life as well). Some film critics have called Glen or Glenda the worst film ever made, while others reserve that honor for Plan 9. (Both films were also “honored” by being referenced in the titles of porn movies, Glen & Glenda and Plan 69 From Outer Space, respectively.) Wood has long been a favorite among connoisseurs of camp, but his legend was introduced to a larger audience by the affectionate biography Ed Wood (1994), directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp. The film was, ironically, a critical hit, winning two Oscars.

Wedgwood is a British pottery company founded in the eighteenth century and described on its Website as “synonymous with beauty, craftsmanship, and innovation.” Its founder, Josiah Wedgwood, introduced industrialized processes to the world of pottery and was also the maternal grandfather to Charles Darwin. According to legend, Wedgwood’s exacting standards led him to smash subpar products while hollering, “This will not do for Josiah Wedgwood!” His namesake company later merged with Waterford Crystal to become arguably the world’s most important purveyor of fine tableware. Local Wedgwood aficionados can join the Wedgwood Society of New York, founded in 1957 and publishers of the journal Ars Ceramica, the 2006 issue of which featured the articles “A View of Pottery in South Amboy, New Jersey, in 1832” and “What the Butler Sold.”


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