The New World [Episode 1 (Torchwood 4.01)]
A joint production between the BBC and Starz, Torchwood: Miracle Day feels like a natural extension of the Torchwood series and not an Americanized version of the show. For that I am grateful. While Torchwood has been somewhat questionable at times with their stories and plots (particularly series 1’s more puerile and/or soap opera moments) so far Miracle Day is maintaining the level quality established in Children of Earth. Granted this is only the first episode, but so far I’m pleased with what I’ve seen.
People across the face of the Earth suddenly appear unable to die. At the same time ‘Miracle Day’ occurs a message shows up in assorted government computer databases simply titled ‘Torchwood’ before it mysteriously disappears as well. As the episode proceeds we see the implications and consequences of the human race’s sudden inability to die begin to unfold on a number of levels: the chronically ill, maimed, and injured consigned to a life of enduring suffering, legal ramifications for the death penalty, and sustainability levels for food, medicine, and housing.
John Barrowman (Jack Harkness), Eve Myles (Gwen Cooper), and Kai Owen (Rhys Williams) reprise their roles admirably and in a way that makes them readily accessible to new viewers while allowing long time fans to appreciate their return. Myles and Owen nail their scenes throughout the episode.
I was less impressed with the other actors, though I can’t decide if it the writing that hampered the actors or merely the actor’s portrayals for their characters. Bill Pullman’s Oswald Danes seemed more caricature than believable villain. Alexa Havins’ Esther Drummond is a bit underdeveloped at this point but otherwise capably portrayed. Mekhi Phifer’s Rex Matheson seemed off at times, brilliant in some scenes and almost farcical in others. I assume as the story progresses, so too will the development of the characters and the actors depiction of them.
Jack Harkness seems back to his more affable self, considering how things were left off from Children of Earth. Given his commitment to protecting Gwen Cooper, that is not surprising. Still, I imagine some new viewers might freak out about his relatively casual comment/question about detaching the head off the bomber brought to the hospital.
I did like the nod to Owen Harper, Burn Gorman’s character from the 2006-2008 Torchwood periods, by having Jack use his name while pretending to be an FBI agent.
I found myself annoyed by the level of ‘handwaving’ (aka television reality) needed to accept the idea that a convicted murderer would simply be allowed to walk free. Such a thing would take months, not days, if at all. Admittedly, I can’t think of any other way to have worked this point, but I still found it distracting.
If it were that easy to discover who was in witness protection type programs based on their phone numbers in the UK everyone in those programs would have been discovered and/or dead long ago. Just an opinion on a miniscule plot hole.
I actually laughed at what appeared to be the baby’s smiling face after Gwen fired on the helicopter on the first viewing.
Overall, a solid return for Torchwood. A little bit more ‘handwaving’ (even by Hollywood and television standards) than I would prefer in order to keep the plotline running but more than made up for by the other thought provoking reactions to the sudden change in reality for the human race. I look forward to seeing how the story progresses.