Thursday, 14 July 2011

Torchwood: Miracle Day - bigger and better?

Here's a quick review of tonight's Torchwood I wrote for Orange.

So, despite the boo-boys, nay-sayers and slightly rubbish aliens in boiler suits, Torchwood continues its march from digital obscurity on BBC Three to something approaching world domination. After hitting BBC One with the Children of Earth mini-series, it's now gone international for its fourth outing – Miracle Day.

The new 10-part series kicked off as people all over the world suddenly stopped dying. And while that's good news for some – like execution-dodging American child-murderer Oswald Danes (Bill Pullman) – it's bad news for the rest of us: within a few months, there'll be too many people for the planet to support.

Meanwhile, the word “Torchwood” suddenly appeared across the computer system of the CIA, sending a couple of curious agents on a trip that led to the Welsh front door of Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles), the reappearance of Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman, above) and the kind of shiny action sequence we'd never have got back in the Hub.

Taking charge again of the series he created, writer Russell T Davies reminded us how effortlessly he can mix the domestic with the cosmic and the comic with the creepy.

And even though he's largely reinventing the series for a new international audience, he's also managed to keep a strong link with its original flavour: it was great to see that characters like Rhys (Kai Cooper) and Andy the copper (Tom Price) hadn't been traded in for glossy US replacements.

However, some things in the show have clearly changed in the transition: during the whole hour Captain Jack didn't once attempt to roger anything or anyone (although it might have been different in the apparently slightly fruitier mix being shown in the US).

Would the BBC Three Captain Jack have got through a whole Transatlantic flight without bagging off with at least one member of cabin crew?

Throughout the very patchy first two series of Torchwood, I used to grit my teeth and hope that eventually they'd get it right – and in Children of Earth, they just about did.

And while the "Americanisation" of the series might wind up some fans, Miracle Day started confidently and looks set to take the series on to a much bigger stage.

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