Note: I am writing and posting this after the first airing of “Torchwood: Miracle Day” on Starz on the East Coast. If you haven’t seen it yet, this post contains spoilers. If you’re in the UK, you have a week to wait and it sucks, I know. Please come back and read this after it airs there.
I expect that the experience of seeing this new series of Torchwood is completely different for two distinct groups – those of us who have been longtime fans of the BBC version and those who are just getting into it for the first time since Starz signed on and has done a promotional blitz here in the US. I wonder what the newbie reaction must be, because on the surface and judged only by this first episode, it can’t seem that different from your average cable thriller. Lots of guns and explosions, quite a bit of grossness, but no aliens yet. And the absence of that last thing was the main thing that gave me, the longtime Torchwood fanatic, a bit of a pang.
But on the other hand, even though it took about 20 minutes to see them, it’s so good to see Jack and Gwen back and kicking arse in the Torchwood way of old. And Rhys and Andy! For the most part they really are the characters we knew back in the olden days, with Gwen getting restless and Jack being secretive and protective, and Rhys really not happy with the lot of it. It was interesting to see the parallels between Jack and Esther, the young CIA agent, to how he treated Gwen in the very first Torchwood episode. Even down to the retconning!
That leads to the new characters. Rex is complex and not a hero in the least, and it looks like he and Jack are going to really hate each other. Which is nice. I actually might like Arlene Tur’s character, the doctor (bodes badly that I never caught her name) the best, because she has nice chemistry with both Rex and Jack. Oswald….boy, the week after the Casey Anthony verdict was probably not the best time to meet him, was it? Instantly blood-curdling, and they didn’t back off on the child-molesting and killing part of his character. No redeeming qualities whatsover. So it’s going to be interesting to see how he apparently becomes this huge cult-like leader for this newly weird world.
And weird it is. No one’s dying, the Somalians aren’t killing each other, the guy who had rods rip through his heart is taking the world’s fastest plane ride from the US to the UK while popping Vicodin and mopping up the blood from his chest, and Jack is injured. Strangely, the last part was the least shocking to me – it only makes sense that if the rest of the world becomes immortal, the immortal man would become fragile – but it freaked out Twitter. I guess we now have to add Jack to the list of potential RTD-kills-them-all victims.
In all, I am pretty satisfied with what they did to Torchwood. It was a very slow episode because I didn’t need the 40 minutes of “What is Torchwood?” explanation before the 10 minutes of real action before it ended
10 8 minutes earlier than expected (grrrrrrrrr.) So I sincerely hope that next week has a lot more action, some actual evidence of alien involvement and a few less explosions. But the characters are the same, there’s already decent references to previous series (Gwen’s parents!) and the newbies don’t suck. Plus next week is the debut of Oswald’s PR flack, Jilly, whom I hear is possibly the best character of the whole show. So, to steal a phrase from another science-fiction show that sadly didn’t age as well as Torchwood seems to be, I want to believe.