Ah, Torchwood is back and it feels almost good. After spending a few seasons on the BBC, Britian’s Sci-Fi version of the X-Files comes to America with a bigger budget and unshackled from the confines of broadcast television. Debuting on the Starz network tonight, the show has a lot to live up to. Torchwood fans expect to see Creator Russell T. Davis go balls to the wall (literally and figuratively) with his new found creative freedom. What we get in the first three episodes, however, is a lukewarm, slow burn. After the stunning Children of Earth a few years ago, I have faith that, in the end, the 10-episode journey of Torchwood: Miracle Day will be worth it.
Miracle Day has an amazing, unique Premise that reminds me a bit of The Sandman Comic Book Series. What happens if no one in the world can die? You would think it’d be all sunshine and kittens but no, it’s surprisingly horrible. Right away Davis and company answer the question “What do you mean by can’t die, you mean simple things like getting shot?” No, can’t die, means can’t die no matter what. We get graphic shots of people being blown up, crushed, and in one freaky moment (I believe in Episode Two), Jack tells the Doctor who is working on a patient who was burned alive to cut his head off. I freaked out when his s eye’s popped open.
Not only is there the human cost of the victims, but it turns out the planet’s resources really are based on the idea that people die, as one character says, over 350,000 people die worldwide everyday, without those deaths you run into problems of eventual food shortages and other resource shortages. Then you have the religious nuts that form a cult.
There’s a weird and ridiculous subplot involving a Death Row inmate Oswald Danes (Bill Pullman) who is on the road to becoming some sort of messiah, I’m sure by the end of the 10th episode he will be running for some political office. Did you know that if you don’t die during execution it somehow entitles you to get out of jail? Yeah, I didn’t understand this canard either. Another subplot that starts building is the involvement of a Pharmaceutical company that knew Miracle Day was coming and will soon be profiting off of it.
These two plot threads are a distraction from what makes Torchwood, Torchwood and that’s John Barrowman’s “Captain Jack Harkness” and how cool is Eve Myle’s “Gwen Cooper?” They truly are the heart and soul of the show and there’s an amazing moment where Myles is toting a Gun in one hand and her Baby in another shooting up the place. It’s awesome!
Watching everyone in the CIA try to figure who and what Torchwood is, was funny and put a smile on my face. By the third episode other conspiracies started to build as we’re introduced to one of the sleazy CIA Officials, Wayne Knight (Newman!) who for some unknown reason is out to kill Gwen and Captain Jack. So far the treatment the CIA is giving the Torchwood crew is laughable. Once Mekhi Phifer’s “Rex Matheson” tracks them down, he doesn’t ask Torchwood for help, he gets involved in a firefight, then arrests them on British soil and drags them to America and says Rhys (Kai Owen) is the “spouse” and isn’t involved? It was a bit heavy handed and unnecessary. I love Rhys and hope he gets involved in later episodes, but somehow I doubt it.
In the BBC Version Captain Jack is a sexual horndog, with the freedom that Pay Cable provides, I expected full on graphical gay sex in the first episode, surprisingly the dingleberries don’t come out until midway in the 3rd episode and it’s pretty tame (no frontal) – by Pay Cable standards.
The first three episodes are all about setting the stage of what’s to become a much more intricate plot so it’s really hard to review Torchwood in pieces. As I said in the beginning the Greatness of Torchwood is always where the show ends up, not where it begins. Torchwood: Children of Earth started slow but turned out to be one of the best things I ever saw on Television.
I have faith in this series and Davis. I’m going to give it an A- on the basis that I’m positive it’s going to end up being amazing. But I reserve the right to revisit this score later. After a long hiatus, Torchwood is back! Torchwood airs Friday nights on the Starz Channel.
Final Grade A-
EM Review by
Originally posted 7-7-2011