Poor Jane Epenson. It’s hard to hear when people don’t like your baby.
The Torchwood fans are very passionate. I’ve never dealt with a more passionate group of fans, so they weighed in very loudly about this last season — which was the only season I was involved in. I was very proud of what we did. I thought it turned out amazingly well. I don’t think you can ever beat Children of Earth, the previous season, which was an absolute masterwork. But, I thought we did very well. I thought we did things with that show that are not normally seen on American television.
The thing of it is, Miracle Day the concept wasn’t bad. The problem stemmed from the execution, starting with the 10 1-hour episode format. Children Of Earth would never have been nearly as good if it had been 10 1-hour episodes. I cannot for the life of me fathom why no one else sees this.
This week’s episode is going to piss off a lot of people. As for me, it reconfirmed my doubts about Davies returning to a “one-hour, once-a-week” format. Despite being literally the same length, minutes-wise, Miracle Day is not nearly as good as Children of Earth. There was something about telling the story in five consecutive two-hour episodes that forced the entire series into a more immediate, tighter story. Each piece of the story was more fleshed out, since every episode was 120 minutes instead of 60; but the overall arc was more concise, since there were only five episodes. Returning to the “shorter-episodes, longer-arc” format has been a detriment to this series of Torchwood. There’s too much room to sprawl. We’ve been slowly losing narrative tension ever since the third episode “Dead of Night.” This week the story ground to a straight up halt.
Not that there wasn’t some good stuff in this episode. The flashback sequences reminded me why I had tuned into the Torchwood pilot in the first place, and why I had been so disappointed with the story they chose to tackle. Jack is immortal–a fixed point in time that never ages, and cannot die. He’s been on earth since the late 19th century, knowing how all of history should play out before him, yet taking the slow path to get there. I love me some period drama–I originally tuned in to Mad Men for the 1960s prop and costume porn it provided, and I still tune in to Masterpiece Mystery when they air the Poirot mysteries, to watch the 1920s and 30s brought to life. A series this rich in history should take advantage of that more often. Unfortunately, they were too busy doing Monster-of-the-Week to bother.
The theme of this episode was “Family and Love put you at Risk.” Also, that American Television really needs more George Eliot references. (Thank you Jack Harkness for making sure we’ve met our yearly quota. Quick, someone tell PBS they can stand down until 2012.) Continue reading
This episode was when Miracle Day hit its stride.
Torchwood, for those not wholly familiar, was terrible during its first two seasons. Descriptions that I used to those who asked ranged from “The Dr Who team does X-Files” to “It’s ‘Waiting For Dr Who’ (and no, the Doctor does not show up.)” Not even crossing over old companions helped–if anything that strengthened the feeling you were hanging out with “extras shipped in from the Department of Back Story,”* and not a one of them very likable at that.
*Yes, I love that phrase.
Children of Earth changed all that. Yes, these characters still were Whoniverse, but no longer were we treading water with them during “Monster of the Week” stories. The tightness that the single story arc brought to the spin-off refocused the characters down to a point where you stopped missing the Doctor. It helped that two of the least likeable (Owen and Tosh) were killed off, never to return. Miracle Day has begun delivering on the promise of this refocus. I found myself glued to my laptop screen in a way that I have never been when watching something streaming over the internet. It was fantastic.
Torchwood‘s second episode was awesome.
Now this is the Torchwood I fell in love with. A tight suspenseful episode where Gwen kicks ass, instead of whimpering and the wacky crap is tempered with doses of well written dialogue. The Americans felt less like “British Caricatures of Americans” and more like characters on par with Jack and Gwen where the actors had realistic American accents (for once.) The discovery that even though the human race is not dying, it’s still aging manages to tie in Greek myth with modern science. I loved Doctor Vera’s realisation that the trauma ward was going about this all wrong because it’s instincts were backwards. Treat the minor injuries first, because the major ones aren’t going anywhere! So simple and yet such a profound moment. The whole discussion she has with the other doctors that Health Care has to be reformed–and RIGHT NOW–is especially timely, but also ironic. We’ve finally found a way to get congress and the President to fix Health Care Reform. It’s just going to require that nobody dies ever again. Also–dude, evil Newman!
The day Torchwood stopped with this whole “Monster of the Week” nonsense is the day Torchwood became a great show. For the second time, Davies is handing us science fiction with a fascinating premise: what if one day we all stopped dying? Continue reading
Torchwood: Miracle Day debuts tomorrow (and if the web is kind to me, I’ll have the recap up this weekend.) Davies spoke on a conference call yesterday with tidbits and teasers for what we should expect.
Nobody is safe. Now that Jack is mortal again, there’s no guarantee that he’ll survive this adventure. Davies was very firm that the idea that Jack is destined to become the Face of Boe is just a “conjecture,” and it’s not set in stone. “You know how I love killing people off,” he adds. “I think the stakes are high when you’re saving the world — so long as you’re not a family drama, you have to be that dangerous, you have to show that lives are at stake. You have to show how high the stakes are.” He said that if anything, this series gets darker than Children of Earth, although it’s also more romantic, especially in episode seven. This time around, the show is a bit more confident, because nobody knew if Children of Earth would work.
The rest of the interview is here.
With the US version set to debut on July 8th, and the UK one six days later(!), we have for you today an 11 minute behind-the-scenes featurette.
The cracks are beginning to show. This whole “Starz/BBC” collaboration was always going to have issues. Now comes word from io9 that we in America won’t see the same version that runs on BBC1:
When Torchwood returns to television next month, there’ll be two different versions of every episode. Some scenes will only be in the US version, while other scenes will only be in the UK version. What’s that about? Continue reading
In an interview with Den of Geek to promote Torchwood: Miracle Day, Russell Davies and gives some real talk about Torchwood’s last outing, the remarkable “Children of Earth.”
Did it strike you, in the reaction afterwards, that people complained more about the death of a character than killing a child?
Not really, I suppose. Because when you see a child die [on a television drama], part of you is thinking he’s not really dead. It’s a child actor. Whereas a lot of people, women in particular, had invested in Ianto in lots of different ways. Continue reading