July 10, 2011

Mortality & Miracles: A Review of TORCHWOOD: MIRACLE DAY

(WARNING: Trailer may contain spoilers; review will be spoiler-free)

As I write this, our local PBS station is reshowing series 4 of Doctor Who on Sunday evenings, and last week was "The Stolen Earth".  This is said only to put things in perspective - Davies, at his best, can do solid adult drama with a fantastic edge, and was able to build on his strengths with Torchwood: Children of Earth. At his worst, he can be over the top and simply not know how to end stories, opting for sentimentality and mawkishness (Can you say, The End of Time)?

With Torchwood: Miracle Day (which premiered on Stars this past Friday night), he has, in effect, started off strong, and sets several plotlines in motion. If you wanted to be especially snarky about it - if Moffat's debut season as Doctor Who producer took Davies' ideas and twisted them, Davies returns the favor, taking Moffatt's "Just this once - everyone lives" line from The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances

Essentially, this first episode does what the best first episodes do - introduce the major players, describe the premise, and (for our returning cast) tell the getting-the-band-back-together story. Given the now international scope (with scenes taking place in Wales and Washington, DC), there is a slightly better look to the show, and the scenes flow together very well. (It helps that this premiere was directed by Bharat Nalluri, who directed episodes of the UK Life on Mars and Hustle, or as I like to think of it, "Leverage with a slightly self-aware sense of humor and better writing"). The acting is rather consistent, the pace is strong, and contains a few subtle nods to the past (both Torchwood and, if I'm not mistaken, a UNIT reference).

In fact, I will say this - it's a lot better, in my opinion, than The Walking Dead. I'm not a big fan of either Kirkman's comic or the AMC Show - it's not a knock on either; neither would be my primary choice. But Torchwood: Miracle Day does something in its first episode - begin talking about the full implications of events, setting up further episodes to look at the moral and philosophical implications of the "miracle" (as well as the miracle itself).

(Torchwood's no stranger to exploring issues around death - check out Series Two. But this does so with a much darker - and grislier - sense of humor.)

I have deliberately stayed away from learning spoilers for Torchwood: Miracle Day - much of it is engaging in a sense of discovery, of wanting to experience - wanting to know - what's going to happen. It's also great that good science fiction television is finding its way into the weekend - Torchwood: Miracle Day is on Friday nights, and Falling Skies (which was renewed for a second season) is on Sundays.

In short - Torchwood: Miracle Day is worth watching. And should be a part of your weekend.

1 comment:

Rogerogreen said...

Looks intriguing.
BTW, it's Starz network, not Stars.