TV

Review: Torchwood Miracle Day

 

Torchwood

Miracle Day

BBC

 

 

Gwen has a conflicted relationship with Torchwood.  It killed her friends, threatened her family, and nearly brought about the end of the world several times.  And yet, it’s exciting.  Being in Torchwood makes Gwen fell alive, important, and heroic.  As Miracle Day opens, Gwen is as far away from Torchwood as can be; in an isolated cottage by the sea with her small family.

She grabs a gun and takes up a defensive position when someone rings the door bell, supposedly because, as a former Torchwood operative, she is still a target; but some of her paranoia stems from her unconscious need to be in an exciting world where threats are around every corner.

Ironic, then, that the case that brings Torchwood back together is one which makes her immortal, and thus, not really threatened at all.

In bringing the show to America, the writers had to leave some of the baggage behind.  Of course, that’s nothing new to the Doctor Who family of shows, where a massive alien invasion on Earth is magically forgotten the next day.

The trauma that drove Jack off the planet at the end of Children of Earth (and the events of Children of Earth), are never mentioned.  Jack is, at least outwardly, his regular boisterous self.  But what we start to see as this series progresses, is how all the dead friends Jack left in his wake over the years have started to weigh on him.  Perhaps seeing everyone on Earth become immortal, makes the deaths of past Torchwood members seem all the more pointless (I think Gwen at some point laments that the miracle didn’t happen sooner so they could have been saved); or maybe faced with his own new-found mortality makes him understand what death really is.

The relationship between Gwen and Jack is classic Torchwood.  Their back and forth dialogue, and Gwens love/hate (or need/want) feelings for Jack, are exactly as we’ve come to know them over the previous seasons.  They are the only thing of Torchwood that remains (both in the sense that they are the only two surviving members, and that they are the only thing taken from the previous three series), and they stay true to that; keeping this new series, however different, anchored to the older ones.

Miracle Day has a different tone than the previous series.  The first three were like old fashioned pulp-sci-fi; with monstrous, Lovecraftian aliens with names like ‘Shnarlax of Tresini.’  There was a slight cartoonish element to it.  By contrast, the new series feels like a police procedural.  Not bad, but different.

The concept of the plot was great, and there was thoughtful exploration of what would happen to Earth and society if something like Miracle Day were to actually occur.  However, the bigger issues were left in the background at the tail end of the series.  As the conspiracy took over as the focal of the plot, the fallout from Miracle Day, which should have been more and more prevalent and dire, became less and less noticable.

Rex and Esther just spend most of this series running, so I don’t think we get to know them on the level we did the previous cast (though to be fair, they had two seasons of stand-alone episodes to flesh them out).  But they are believable and worthy members of the team.

Overall, I miss the ‘color’ of the previous series.  But judged on its own merits, Torchwood Miracle Day is a solid Sci-Fi miniseries with an interesting premise and likable cast.

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