“Torchwood: Miracle Day” just aired its first episode. I offered a general review of the series yesterday, and I have some specific thoughts on the premiere coming up just as soon as I cheat painting a wall…
I imagine my posts on this series (or miniseries, or whatever we’re calling it) will be more discussion-starters than in-depth reviews, both because it’s all part of one large tapestry that I’ve seen a significant amount of, and also because what I’ve seen of “Miracle Day” was pretty uneven, and typifies various flaws in Russell T. Davies’ writing style that were familiar during his tenure on “Doctor Who” and the early days of “Torchwood.” (Though I found the ending of “Children of Earth” a bit rushed and problematic, the four hours leading up to it were about my favorite thing Davies has done.) But we’ll see.
In terms of our introduction to this new version of the franchise, it was obviously designed to be as accessible as possible to newcomers. So we spend lots of time with our new American characters, with Captain Jack first popping up halfway through and his previous adventures with Gwen largely hinted at.(*) And the Americans at this point are a mixed bag. Mekhi Phifer’s Rex is the typically smug and abrasive Mekhi Phifer character dialed up to 11, Bill Pullman’s child-killer Oswald Danes is creepy (but at times distractingly so), and Alexa Havins’ Esther Drummond mainly is there to give and receive exposition so far.
(*) And by doing it that way, the show can’t really deal with the question of why Esther wouldn’t be familiar with the various extremely public alien invasions, monster attacks, etc., that Torchwood and/or the Doctor have dealt with. Under Steven Moffat’s leadership, “Doctor Who” has tried to say that history was rewritten so that only the Doctor himself (and perhaps other people involved at the center of those events) remembers that stuff, but it’s a can of worms a new version of this show can’t even open, even if it’s a little distracting to those of us who’ve been watching from the beginning.
Unsurprisingly, the scenes involving the main cast that worked the best tended to involve Jack and/or Gwen (and Rhys). That those also happened to include the premiere’s two big action numbers (Jack and Esther at the CIA archives, and then Jack and Gwen shooting it out with a helicopter) also helps, of course, but I have a greater investment in those characters and even as Davies and company are trying to open up the world for newcomers, it’s clear their affections are still strongest towards the old gang from Cardiff.
As I said in the review, the parts of the miniseries I found the strongest tended to exist outside the plot and mainly dealt with the different ways the miracle works (the severed head was suitably gross) and how society responds to it. The one nitpick I have so far is that everyone seems to accept Jack’s newfound mortality based on very little evidence. Just because he can get cut or bruised without it instantly healing doesn’t mean he’s automatically the only mortal man on Earth – it seems just as logical to assume that he’d be in the same situation as Rex and everybody else, where he can get hurt but can’t die – but the plot requires us to assume Jack can die, and so we just have to.
Our first hour in, what did everybody else think?