Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
I think life post-Ianto might just be okay. Maybe.
In the series opener of “Torchwood: Miracle Day,” things are not right for immortal Captain Jack Harkness, aka the future Face of Boe (John Barrowman). With a wound not mending, he’s become his normal pre-Satellite 5 self again: all mortal and stuff. But he seems to have made a trade with every human in the world–they all seem, interestingly enough, unable to die (in one gruesome scene, we watch a bomber’s exploded corpse show signs of sentience). It’s an intriguing scenario that not just brings the last two remaining members of Torchwood Three together again, this time on American soil, but also raises some pretty heavy philosophical questions: What of executions? (Interestingly, this first episode aired the same day as the execution of Humberto Leal Garcia in Texas). What of pain? What of over-population? It’s not that hard to imagine how the miracle of non-death could in reality be a curse.
This is, for those familiar with “Torchwood,” the show’s fourth series, the first three having premiered on British airwaves. It’s since become a naturalized American citizen, finding a new home on American premium cable tv (the lucky Starz), with a cast of Americans to comprise the new Torchwood team. Creator Russell T Davies–whom, by virtue of having written a “killer” episode, I have forgiven for having killed off the aforementioned Ianto and thereby the coolest and hottest and possibly only male-on-male sci-fi romance ever–seems to have managed the tricky feat of introducing “Torchwood” to a whole new audience (aka potential converts), while still catering to the show’s existing followers (those familiar with the show will undoubtedly have caught Captain Jack’s reference to former TW team member and casualty, Owen Harper). RTD does a great job of reintroducing–and further complicating–the mystery of Captain Jack. Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) has never been my favorite TW character, but she is in such commendable serious ass-kicking form here, that I hoorayed at seeing her once again.
RTD’s script isn’t entirely perfect, but campy imperfection seems almost part of his charm as a writer. When workhorse CIA agent Rex Matheson (Mekhi Phifer) gets out of his hospital bed and gown (and into his suit from a violent car accident that somehow seems to have mended itself during his hospital stay) and slogs all the way across the Atlantic to Wales (paving the way for all sorts of Welsh jokes–watch out for one that deftly references New Jersey), there’s a sense of the comical and ridiculous to it all. (Let’s not forget that “Torchwood” is after all a spin-off of “Doctor Who,” which has admittedly had its fair share of the cheesy through its entire nearly 50-year run. …And please don’t write to me in a huff, fellow Whovians, for I have not blasphemed–only spoken the truth with some endearment!).
Overall, it’s great to see “Torchwood” back on the telly again. This “Torchwood” seems freer, no longer susceptible to the BBC’s mistreatment. But only time will tell how the American audience will react to this import. (I kept wondering, will we be seeing captions pretty soon, due to complaints regarding accents, every time Gwen or Rhys utters something?). It will also be interesting how the UK audience–which for the first time must watch the show on delay (how the tables have turned)–will behave: Will the Brits resort to piracy, as many Americans have in the past been wont to do? How will that affect ratings, iPlayer and all? And what of the Cardiff rift? (I suppose leave it for the bloody Welsh to deal with, eh?). And couldn’t RTD have waited till this series to kill Ianto? (Sorry, couldn’t help myself).
Here’s looking forward to next week’s episode, “Rendition.”