For a show with as complicated a history as Torchwood has, the newest installment, “Miracle Day” is surprisingly easy for newcomers to understand. I’m a huge fan of the show, and recommend anyone who likes outside the box, somewhat dark science fiction at least check it out, but you don’t have to have seen the earlier episodes to follow what goes on here.In part one, airing on Starz network, Gwen Cooper, former Torchwood agent, is living in hiding with her husband and daughter. Gwen and Rhys are doing their best to simply stay out of everything, raise their child, and forget their past.The rest of the world deals with two strange incidents, the second overshadowing the first quickly. The first incident involves the word “Torchwood” being e-mailed all over the place, setting off a furor of people wondering why and how this was done, and what, exactly, is Torchwood? Fans know that Torchwood was an institute established by Queen Victoria herself to deal with “the strange, the alien” as Captain Jack Harkness explains to confused CIA agent Esther Drummond. Most lose interest in the enigma of an obscure and classified British secret agency as it becomes apparent that no one is dying. Anywhere on Earth.Among those effected are a different CIA agent and a death row prisoner, both of whom should have died that night… but didn’t. Digging into the mystery, Rex Matheson, mortally wounded but somehow still living government agent eventually manages to put together the pieces enough to realize that he needs Torchwood. He even manages to find Gwen, just as Gwen and Rhys are attacked by helicopter-borne assassins. Gwen and company are saved by the timely last minute intervention of Jack Harkness, who Gwen hasn’t seen since the events of the previous series “Children of Earth.”Jack is a complicated character. He’s from both the future and another planet. He traveled for a time with Dr. Who. In those travels, he suffered a very unique accident, and now can no longer die. He has come back from all manner of injury, including being blown to bits. Rex, Jack, Gwen, Rhys, and the baby all end up going to America to start looking into what has happened. In another twist, while no one Earth can die now, Jack seems to have lost his healing ability.Torchwood always promises action, thrills, and brains, and this delivers. Some people are thrilled with this “miracle,” of course. But then reality sets in. With no one dying, and the birthrate continuing, predictions are that the Earth will start running out of food in four months, for example. How all this plays out, who was behind the “Torchwood” emailing, and what’s happened to humanity (and Jack) will be seen as the ten part series continues.
I admit I enjoyed this opener. They spend some time establishing bits and hints about Torchwood to make things understandable to new viewers, but have plenty of nice Easter Eggs for long term fans as well. One of the fake ID’s that Jack uses has the name of a fallen comrade, for example. The action sequences were great, with Torchwood’s humor intact (Gwen firing at the would-be assassins after putting ear muffs over her baby’s head, Jack and a CIA agent falling several stories into a fountain with Jack starting to flirt with her about as soon as they land).
I only have one real concern about the “Americanization” of Torchwood. Jack is from the future, where such distinctions are much less important, and has been shown to be bisexual. Actually, various themes about sexuality ran through much of Torchwood’s past. While there was a lot of build up and establishing stories and backgrounds here, there was no hint of any of that. I worry that the American mind set may have crept in- shooting, fighting, explosions are fine, but sex is bad. I really hope that’s not the case; it gave Jack some depth and was a great deal more realistic that way.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Torchwood is back from limbo! Huge new peril/mystery for them, some good new characters
||has it been Americanized?