The Blue Box Blog

Emma Lou's adventures in Doctor Who fandom

Torchwood: Miracle Day “The New World” Review

Posted by emmahyam on July 14, 2011

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS DETAILED SPOILERS ABOUT ALL OF TORCHWOOD & DOCTOR WHO SEASON 4

Hello everyone! First up a sincere apology for the lack of activity on this here humble blog, a persistent elbow injury has kept me from my keyboard from sometime but happily I’m now able to get back to shouting about the things on my mind.

So what better subject to return to the blogosphere with than a through picking over of the new offering from RTD and Co, Torchwood: Miracle Day? Torchwood has always been a funny old thing, truly the red headed stepchild of the Who-niverse, I remember the giddy excitement of watching Doctor Who Series 2 listening intently, waiting for someone to mention the hallowed word “Torchwood”, the fevered speculation of what it all meant, the news that there was going to be a spin-off…. then the crushing disappointment of we actually got doled out in Torchwood Season 1. Season 2 was a step up in quality but still something lacked, then finally it all fell into place in “Children of Earth”. The proper grown up sci-fi that we’d been promised way back in 2006, a true adult alternative to Doctor Who, “Children of Earth” was a wonderful example of the dystopian science fiction that no one does quite the way the UK does it, a worthy successor to classics like “Threads” and “Survivors”.

Cut back to 2011 and its time for brand new Torchwood in the shape of Miracle Day episode one “The New World”, could it live up to the legacy of  “Children of Earth”? Bluntly for me this episode fell short by some considerable margin, there were elements of the episode I liked a great deal. Eve Myle’s performance as Gwen was outstanding, two years away from playing the role seemingly hasn’t had much of a detrimental affect on her portrayal (see Billie Piper’s early Season 4 Rose for an opposite example!) as Myles slips back into the role like an old pair of comfy shoes. The  injection of funds from the Starz network certainly shows on screen with the Helicopter Vs Land Rover sequence on the beach a particular highlight. I also liked the return of characters such as PC (now Sargent) Andy and Gwen’s parents Geraint and Mary, the bit with Gwen protecting Anwen’s ears with fluffy pink earmuffs was hilarious and the sequence in the morgue with the blown up bloke was excellently creepy….

Sidenote: Is it me or where there a ton of callbacks to The X-Files in this? Jack seemingly went to the morgue having watched the show to get tips on how to play stiff FBI guys, he even went in fancy dress as Fox Mulder! Also R Matheson is our lead CIA guy, Senator R Matheson was Mulder’s sometimes-informant in The X-Files. Curious…

Anyway time for the moans, the pace of the episode was hideously uneven, the audience is put in a scene, a horrendous info-dump occurs then we’re on to another place where the tone is totally different, given a dump of pretty much the same information again, then repeat. I felt like RTD had written two separate episodes, one with the events  of Miracle Day, introducing Oswald Danes and the stuff that happens to Gwen and Rhys, then one where he basically rewrote “Everything Changes” only with Esther Drummond instead of Gwen then smushed them together. Most of the performances didn’t ring true for me, Bill Pullman seemingly choosing to channel Hannibal Lecter through an Ouija board rather than act and dear old John Barrowman trying his best to look mysterious but only managing Blue Steel. Torchwood’s biggest problem throughout its history has been that its writers have mistaken making your characters “complex and dark” for “make them as dislikeable as possible”. Why else would our main characters be A) a murderous pedophile and B) an asshole who crows about a colleges wife’s leukemia?

RTDs characteristic humour also deserted him, with a lot of the jokey bits of the script falling flat and the dialogue failing to sing in ways that has saved some his previous efforts. Ultimately Torchwood’s successful bits have come from the fact that amazing,  things have happened to an ordinary copper like Gwen and the small budget feel of previous season have added to drama, how do regular folk deal with the extraordinary? By scaaling up the budget and making everything “bigger and more Hollywood” Miracle Day has only really served to expose Torchwood’s fralities.

However, all is not lost, this is a 10 episode extravaganza, a slow burn, I hope that “The New World” hasn’t dampened the embers…

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One Response to “Torchwood: Miracle Day “The New World” Review”

  1. Mary said

    You’ve pretty much summed up exactly how I felt. It seems the budget has gone on making it bigger rather than better. This may have a much larger budget than previous Torchwood but it just felt like a cheap, cheesy, American programme. Rather than an English programme with a cash injection. The best scenes for me were Gwen & family, in Wales. I believed those bits. The US set scenes seemed gaudy rather than expensive. There were flashes here that ensure I’ll tune in again. Overall my worry is that by trying to appeal to a wider market they’ll lose what gave it it’s core audience whilst falling short of what that wider market demands.

    You can’t really judge from a set-up episode. I’m hoping that once the story gets going and it’s set on one side of the Pond it will feel more cohesive. Hopefully Gwen will give it the oomph and the rest will rise to that level. I still miss Owen though 😉

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