‘Torchwood: Miracle Day’ Mid-Season Review: Who is Torchwood Anyway?

torchwood-miracle-day-jacktop11headerI came into this season optimistic, believing that Starz and RTD could pull off a feat larger than the last. Instead I’ve found this season to be a disappointment coming off the emotional/action/alien powerhouse that was Children of Earth. I’ve found myself soldiering on through the series more because it’s Torchwood and general hope that it will get better than anything else.

“Miracle Day” is too big a story (and a little sloppy at times, but I digress) to be telling following the massive scale of “Children of Earth”, I’m not referring to budget, but the fact that “Children of Earth” pulled out all the stops. It was a simple concept that was clear and terrifying and destruction was unparalleled to anything the Torchwood ‘verse has ever seen before. I the first episode we were all asked “Who is Torchwood?” and I think that Torchwood’s identity has been lost, or confused in it’s journey across the pond.

When “Firefly” became “Serenity” they did the same, took a show that dealt with small, intense stories week to week and created an epic tale involving the entire ‘verse and with severe and lasting consequences and developments for the crew. If we were to see a continuation we wouldn’t want to see Captain Mal and Crew taking on the Alliance once again, we would want to see them back in their element, moving on and doing what they do.

I believe this is where Torchwood erred, instead of trying to top the scale of “Children of Earth” with a larger budget and American support it should have looked at what makes Torchwood special, and built a story where Gwen and Jack and Rhys and even Sgt. Andy living in a post-567 world, dealing with the loss and guilt, moving on and rebuilding with the events of the past informing their new direction but not overshadowing it.

I wasn’t overly impressed with “The New World”, the first episode of Torchwood’s new “Miracle Day” series. I was excited by the concept, and being back in a world where Captain Jack Harkness and Gwen Cooper save the day on a consistent basis with his brooding sexual charm and her endearing Welshness.

However, in “Miracle Day” we the insufferable Rex to contend with, the bland analyst Ester, and an assortment of new characters that aren’t sufficiently fleshed out enough to really connect with in enough time to leave an impact.

Torchwood: Miracle Day Lauren Ambrose Jilly KitzingerAside from Jack and Gwen the most intriguing character in the first episode is Oswald and he is completely isolated from the main plot. It’s only in the second episode that the incredibly talented Lauren Ambrose appears as the enigmatic publicist Ms. Jilly Kitzinger. It takes well into perhaps the third episode before Dr. Vera Juarez becomes more than a doctor on a mission and warms into becomes a person that we can really get behind.

Much of Torchwood’s innate charm is missing this season, and Gwen’s return to Wales in the latest installment “The Categories of Life” adds credence to my theory that part of the problem is the location, Cardiff was very much a part of the character that defined Torchwood in previous seasons and I’m feeling its absence.

Also seriously missing, is Captain Jack at the helm. Jack Harkness is Torchwood, but in this new series he’s playing at the peripheries where he should be central in leading the investigation and the missions. He seems to be all but sidelined since the premiere. In “Escape to L.A.” he got to team up with Gwen to pull the fantastic caper with disguises and accents danger and silliness, it was exciting and fun and it’s exactly what this season needs more of.

Instead, Jack seems to be picking up the slack where he can, if he’s working something serious behind the scenes it needs to be brought to the fore where we can see it instead of making us watch Jack let Rex just walk all over him for absolutely no reason except that Jack claims he has the loudest voice. It’s like Jack has completely forgotten who he is, or the show hasn’t sufficiently explained why he’s acting so strangely. Is it because he’s feeling weak and scared in his new mortal state? Perhaps, but this issue is never explored.

Jack would defer to a man like The Doctor, not to Rex. Earlier in the series I thought that maybe Jack was working an angle to letting Rex take the lead thing, but the farther along in the series ewe get the less likely that seems to be the case, and the more irritating the whole balance of power gets to be.

Additionally, where’s all the sex? Yes, they’ve had a few scenes, but it’s not the same. In the past Torchwood has dealt with sex as something as natural as breathing no matter how freaky it was. Guys, girls, aliens, ghosts, just a matter of fact, adults have sex. That matter of fact nature, and the humour (and sometimes more serious issues) that accompanied such shenanigans is sorely missed in this new season.

I was more optimistic about the season in my “The New World” review, but none of the questions I asked have been answered, and none of issues that I wished would improve have gotten better.

Jack’s mortality in a sea of the living dead has been merely glanced over and no real progress has been made even looking into why he is an exception to this “miracle”. Since the death of Newman there has been barely any contact with the FBI and the whole mystery of who sent the Torchwood blast also seems to have been all but dropped.

Yes, we have sort of figured out the deal with Oswald Danes, but it’s kinda lame. PhiCorp, the big evil pharmaceutical company in the weirdest PR move of all time decides to take a child molesting murderer under its wing as its spokesperson. I get that they are supposed to be evil and behind the miracle (although I’m sure I hope there’s still someone behind them) There are a ton of other folks out there that didn’t die when they should have, there is no reason they should have picked a man as evil as that…unless there is, but I’ve got to say keeping us out of that loop is a huge misstep.

On a more positive note:

I have absolutely loved Gwen and Eve Myles for continuing to present such a capable, funny, and kick-ass character. I’ve enjoyed the scenes back in Wales, and liked the brief moments where Jack gets to shine.

Regarding the controversial “death” of Dr. Vera Juarez, that’s what Torchwood does; they make us love a brilliant character then remind us that nothing is safe. I give it points for that.

My hopes for this series rest on Lauren Ambrose’s Jilly (aside from Gwen of course) Ambrose brings more to the character than the lines she delivers, she plays it like there’s an entire back-story to why Jilly has decided to go down this route, representing such a despicable person despite her disgust with him. I want to know that story, and I want to understand her. My fingers are crossed that it will deliver. – Sara

Are you still watching Torchwood: Miracle Day? Love it? Hate it? Or just hoping it will get better?

This post also lives on G33KPRON.

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One thought on “‘Torchwood: Miracle Day’ Mid-Season Review: Who is Torchwood Anyway?

  1. Pingback: ‘Torchwood: Miracle Day’ Mid-Season Review: Who is Torchwood Anyway? « G33KPRON – Games, Comics, Movies, Gadgets, Music, Cosplay & Girls

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