The Blue Box Blog

Emma Lou's adventures in Doctor Who fandom

Torchwood: Miracle Day “Escape To L.A.” Review

Posted by emmahyam on August 4, 2011


Roll up, roll up one and all for Torchwood: Miracle Day episode four, its time to see whats in store. I went into this weeks show with a renewed sense of hope, the episode was co-written by one of my favorite “X-Files” writers  John Shiban, scribe on such slices of fried gold as “The Walk”, “Leonard Betts” and one of my guiltiest X-Files pleasures “Teso Dos Bichos”. Also this is episode four for Gods sake, surely now they’ve done all the introducing everyone and moving people into position and having great big laughs at those crazy British words for things and talking and talking and talking and talking about HOW MASSIVE MIRACLE DAY IS OMG it must surely be time for something to actually happen!

Well, something did happen, kind of. The show has finally settled into its storytelling, we have four distinct storylines at play (the ramshackle new Torchwood Vs PhiCorp, Oswald Danes’ rise from “Very Naughty Boy” to “Messiah” in a flurry of jaw-droppingly clunky Jesus metaphors, Gwen’s Dad and Doctor Basil Exposition dealing with Miracle Day’s fallout) which we assume will eventually blend into one big finale. Now that all four have become their own separate entities with in the narrative oddly the show as a whole doesn’t seem so disjointed. Gwen and Jack finally step out of the shadows of their own show, their storyline actually feels like they’re at the centre at the mystery of Miracle Day. The humour that grated so badly last week was actually amusing (Gwen’s “I’m mortified!” at having to do a US accent was great) and the chemistry thats so apparent between Eve Myles and John Barrowman in real life was front and centre. Alexa Havins’ Esther Drummond was absolutely fantastic and even Mekhi Phifer was tolerable seeing as he was only required to be angry and shoot someone this week.

Even Oswald Dane’s story which was severely getting on my whick last week is starting to make some sort of sense, his outrage at being cock-blocked from the news by someone else horrendous in the shape of very thinly veiled Sarah Palin clone Ellis Hartley Monroe was actually a good piece of story telling, starting as darkly humorous then transitioning to terrifying. Was anyone else as horrified as I was that everyone was cool about a convicted sex offender picking up a baby? (A quick side note; that little girl got the biggest laugh of the show from me when she obviously saw her Mum or Dad off camera and give them a big grin and wave as Bill Pullman picked her up). Also great was the incredibly grim fate of the misguided Tea Partyer Ellis Hartley Monroe, a little bit of wishful thinking on the part of the writers I think.

While I enjoyed these elements of the show there are gripes that continue to niggle with me somewhat, even though there was some movement in the plot, the episode seemed full of bits of filler, the lingering establishing shots of LA, Rex’s confrontation with his Dad and Gwen’s lengthy phone call to Worlds Most Useless Husband Rhys. The impression is that the writers are desperately padding out the story to fill 10 episodes, an overwhelming opinion amongst some of my fellow viewers . Some of the characters still haven’t quite settled, poor old Doctor Basil Exposition still stuck with impressing  THE  MASSIVE IMPACT OF MIRACLE DAY OMG on us all and Jilly Kitzinger suddenly developing some morals out of nowhere and expressing more than a little distaste for Oswald. General dumbness on the part of people allegedly only one step down from “ninja” in the secret agent stakes making phone calls in the open AND in broad daylight and having their arses handed to them in fights rankled. How has Gwen managed to stay under the radar this long exactly? The seemingly constant recycling of former Torchwood moments continue, especially in the preview for episode five where Gwen seemingly recycles her direct to camera monologue from Children Of Earth.

Most of all though the thing that remains the biggest sticking point with me is how ordinary the story seems, essentially Torchwood 4.0 is The X-Files re-imagined. Where The X-Files was concerned with the actions of a shadowy consortium trying to save their miserable hides from alien colonisation Torchwood now reflects the current concerns of your average conspiracy theorist. Massive shadow governments, information control and big pharma. PhiCorp are now more or less The Illuminati, with their triangle symbol only needing an all-seeing eye  on top of it to complete the image, the “Overflow Camps” are essentially the “FEMA Death Camp” theory brought into reality. Where is the little spark of aliens-and-tech weirdness that made Torchwood unique in the first place? They even had one of the old X-Files standards in the form of “Shadowy Assassin/Exposition Guy”. I can’t help but feel at this point that “Miracle Day” can’t avoid a massive “reset button” finale, where everyone just drops dead or the natural cycle of death is restored and Jack goes back to being Captain Scarlet and buggers off into the sunset, not unlike The X-Files then.

Despite this litany of grumbles overall I actually enjoyed this episode, moving from through the previous ranks of “awful”, past “acceptable” and on to “OK”. I just wish it had been episode two instead of episode four. I look forward to episode five (the halfway point!) with some renewed hope, if it can continue some of the momentum its managed to gather in this outing then episode five might just be something to cheer about. Heres hoping…







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