The color bands you see in the recent screenshots of rtorrent are not screen artifacts, they’re intentional.
Just as an experiment I tinkered with the rtorrent-extended package in AUR, which applies a lot of patches to the 0.8.6 versions of libtorrent and rtorrent — including colored title lines. This allows you to paint both the foreground and background in any standard console color variation, with highlighting applied when the torrent is actively uploading or downloading.
On the whole there’s not a lot I would add to or subtract from rtorrent, which isn’t to say it’s the perfect program, only that it does what I need it to do without being scant. On the other hand, those colored bars really do make things much easier to read when you’re sifting up and down through pages of torrents.
The rtorrent-extended package also includes the ability to snub peers, ban slow peers, magnet links, ipv6, tracker info and a bunch of other things. Whether or not these tweaks eventually become part of the rtorrent mainline is something to be seen. There are a lot of variations on rtorrent that are worth investigating — desktop frontends, web interfaces, and so forth. But this one I can endorse simply on the grounds of visibility. ;)