TORCHWOOD: MIRACLE DAY: Episode 1
The Hughes Verdict!
Its always been hard for Torchwood to step out from the shadows of its older brother Doctor Who. Even its anagram title is a reminder of the task it faces to even be respected in the word where the Tardis exists, but to be fair to all those involved, the past three seasons they have managed to create their own little legacy for fans all over the world.
Death is a strong focus for nearly every storyline that has been created within the Torchwood walls, way back from the first episode to when Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) discovered the one and only Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) could not die, to the season finale of season two when half of the team met their demise.
The critically acclaimed and quite fantastic Season Three’s Children Of Earth ended in a strong disturbing note that took many fans by surprise with again the Grim Reaper playing a huge pivotal role, but as we embark on a new fourth season which booms out bigger and bolder thanks to a American studio Starz and BBC collaboration, it seems the Reaper can put away his Scythe and hang up his black cloak because somehow no one can die on our planet Earth. Why? How? Well we have a full nine more episodes to find out, because the beginning episode is all about re-starting for fans of new and old, an odd mix which a few times threaten to derail the whole show!
Unlike Children Of Earth which started with a flow and continued from one episode to the next, Miracle Day tried to introduce the world of Torchwood to the American audience while trying to appease fans in Britain. We had two new characters who suggest could well form the new team of Torchwood if it goes into a fifth season. We have Esther Drummond (Alexa Havins) who is following the route of our Gwen from the original episode, in trying to find out who or what are Torchwood, a quest that leads her to a meeting with our Jack and while die-hard fans will feel the echoes of the past, its a quite easy to see why we have this because Esther and Rex Matheson (Mekhi Phifer) are probably the two most important new additions of the new show. Rex in particular who survives a fatal accident is the main thrust of the opening episode. His mad rush from America to Wales to find out why he did not die and to meet the only surviving members of Torchwood is not only important to the plot but for the overall future of the series. It is his character alone that has to re-unite the fans of new and old, I mean if you don’t like him then the whole show does not work but happily he manages to create a great start thanks to some great one-liners that made this fan laugh a few times.
Gwen though still shines like a beacon of light when she is on screen. We finally see her living a normal life in a hidden retreat with her husband Rhys, trying to live a normal life with her new baby, but somehow we get the feeling that she simply can not forget her past but just when we feel she may have lost her edge, we are greeted with a fantastic silly set-piece that homage’s John Woo’s Hard Boiled. Gun in one hand, baby in the other, her hidden retreat discovered and she came out blaring with a surreal image that will probably be remembered by fans for years to come.
So much was going on in this opening episode that its hard to see how creator Russell T Davies can jiggle all the plot threads for the remaining episodes, especially when you take into account the character of Oswald Danes, a dark character who is played quite brilliantly by Bill Pullman. He really comes across like a nasty piece of work, a paedophile killer who survives a lethal injection and then negotiates his freedom. With all the grand scale of the plot, its this in particular that intrigues me more and it be interesting to see where this goes!
Its easy to forget Jack, the main hero of the show. He was overshadowed in this episode saved really with an excellent helicopter chase along Roscilly Beach which announced his arrival, but apart from that, the only hint we get is while no one on earth can die, the once immortal Captain can, which makes a suggestion that this new world wide problem could be all about him, for what reason we can only speculate!
Miracle Day was a good opening episode but not a great one. Its goal was to introduce the whole world of Torchwood to a new audience and for that it worked, its just for fans like me, we need to see the second episode move on now, into a bigger, nastier bite that we all know the show is capable of!