Hey, guess what I got in the mail, guys? A press kit from Starz, containing info on their new series Torchwood: Miracle Day, with pictures, character breakdowns, and, oh yeah, the first three episodes of the series. Which won’t premiere on Starz until July 8th.
We’ll be doing full recaps of the episodes here on MTV Geek as they broadcast, as well as some other cool Torchwood content coming up, but since it was a no-brainer to pop the screener in and check the series out, here’s ten non-spoilery questions and answers about the first three episodes of the show:
1. What’s Miracle Day?
Well, as the info is already out there, one day, everybody on Earth stops dying. They get sick, they can get hurt, but they just don’t die. What’s not out there? How well Russell T. Davies and the rest of the writing team really, thoughtfully explore the effect of that cause. It’s not nearly as simple as, “Over-population is going to kill the Earth.” The world literally changes overnight, and credit to Davies and company for packing the first three episodes with just what those changes mean, from religion, to medicine, to war. This is a series that truly is global in scale.
2. Okay, Fine, Fine, But What About Torchwood?
If you’ve watched the previous three series, you’ll know that pretty much only Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) and Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) are left alive. You don’t have to wait too long in the first episode to see them back in action, and I don’t think it’s too spoilery to say by the end of the first episode, they're back together. By the end of the second episode? There may or may not be a brand new Torchwood. Just sayin’.
3. Wait, I Thought Captain Jack Was Hookin’ Up In Space!
Me too… That’s where we left him in the last episode of David Tennant’s run on Doctor Who. But it’s actually a good thing that the series tends to completely ignore this… Or at least, not address it. There’s just enough info and set-up so that new viewers will be up to speed lickety-split, and some great shout-outs to fans throughout the episodes. Look for Captain Jack’s alias in the first episode, and how he describes a warehouse in the third.
4. How About The New Cast?
Honestly? A bit of a mixed bag, though pretty much everyone is improved by the third episode. Torchwood famously killed off all of their boring, boring cast members over the course of the run, leaving the only three interesting ones for the last series (and then heart-wrenchingly killing off one of those). At first, at least, we have a bunch of new, cipher characters.
Alexa Havins is a CIA Analyst who’s kind of taking the young, naïve role Eve Myles had back in season one. Mekhi Phifer is a CIA Director, and basically just being Mekhi Phifer. Arlene Tur, as a driven doctor dealing with revising medical policy now that no one is dying probably comes off the best, but she also gets the most to do. Bill Pullman is… Well, he’s creepy as a pedophile that manages to survive his execution due to Miracle Day, but he’s also, “ACTING!!!” The best addition to the cast is Lauren Ambrose, who I hesitate to say anything about, other than she’s the character I’m most dying to know more about when Episode Four finally hits.
Like I said though, pretty much everybody gets more comfortable in their roles over the course of the first three episodes. It feels like the writers needed as much time to get to know them as we do.
5. I Hated Torchwood Seasons One and Two, But Loved Children Of Earth. Will I like this series?
Probably, actually. Seasons one and two suffered from being a too Americanized version of a British show, trying to push boundaries like a kid sticking his hand closer and closer to a pile of mud: you’d prefer they don’t do it, but it doesn’t really matter in the long run. Children of Earth was propulsive, exciting, original, and most of all, big. Davies and company have clearly taken the lessons from the first three seasons and applied them here. So rather than a British series trying to be American, you’ve got an American series that takes on the earnestness of British television. So it’s good fun, and exciting throughout.
On the Children Of Earth side, it doesn’t come barreling out of the gate in the same way, but it continues to build over the first three hours, and becomes more and more clear that – like CoE – Miracle Day will be dealing with some HUGE issues. Not just character issues, but social and political issues. This is a series that is very much relevant for America today.
So basically, it’s dumb television smashed together with smart television… Just the way we like it.
6. Specifics, specifics!
No, really, I’d like to keep getting these screeners, thanks.
7. Come on… Tell us something!
Okay, fine, I will say this: there’s a pretty huge twist at the end of episode one involving one of our main characters that makes this a very personal battle. And then there’s another huge twist at the end of episode three that makes you doubt everything you thought was happening at the end of episode one. Kind of makes me giddy for the next seven episodes, actually: it really feels like I have no idea where they’re going, and that’s a great thing.
8. Fine, jerk. But what about the sex… This is Starz, so there’s lots of sex, right?
Cool down, flyboy. This is nowhere near the depraved levels of, say, a Spartacus series. Remember, the series is also being shown on the BBC. So there’s some light swearing, and a PG-13 sex scene in the third episode totally appropriate for the bi-sexual friendly nature of the show. There’s even one particular scene I think we’ll be passed around in screencaps for a looooong time. But we’re not even at HBO levels here. There’s actually way too much plot to waste time on sex scenes. No, I can’t believe I wrote that, either.
9. Any final thoughts?
Glad you asked, imaginary Q&A person! Torchwood: Miracle Day is smart, propulsive entertainment with some stellar lead performances from John Barrowman and Eve Myles. It works brilliantly for old fans of the series, and will definitely pick up a ton of new ones. Granted, it’s not a homerun out of the gate, but there are some awesome, fun sequences throughout. It’s exciting, smart, and most of all, great scifi that should get people talking. Oh, and just to reiterate, it only gets better as it goes on. I wish I could talk specifics, but suffice to say that by the time Gwen Cooper does… What she does… In the first episode, while holding her baby, there was no turning back. This is a show that means to entertain, and make you think at the same time. You know, like TV used to do. I can’t wait for you guys to check it out.
10. Hey, I thought you said there were ten thoughts?
Ah, rats. Ummm… Go watch Children of Earth? I dunknow.