September 14, 2011

Torchwood : Miracle Day

As River Song would say, “Spoilers.” As in, this post will be full of them if you haven’t seen Torchwood Miracle Day. So… stop now, especially if you haven’t seen the finale.

Last chance, I warn you!

I liked it. The concept was solid, and I enjoyed the more adult yet very much Doctor Who vibe of Torchwood.

The entire series felt a bit bloated. About writing, I’ve been told time and time again that you need to cut things back to the bare bones and then add in moments here and there to keep pacing up. Miracle Day felt as though they just kept adding. Either that or they had a template in place and had a couple episodes added to the order late in the game. Either way, there were a few episodes that felt like fillers with a few important bits thrown in.

Oswald Danes was a problem. Pullman did a great job as a villain, but it felt like the series spent too much time on him- and it was all to give Jack something to do that wasn’t dangerous for the only mortal man on the planet. Instead of viewers wondering what Danes’ motivation was, it was laid out for us early on. Jack met with him and pointed out that Danes simply just wanted to die. Everything involving him (other than that great fight between him and Jilly) lost it’s steam because we had all the answers right away. Though really, his bizarre death speech was so over the top, it was great.

Another problem was the huge amount of time devoted to Jack’s lover, Italian Guy, who really only existed as the vehicle for the Family to get Jack’s blood in the past. And to later serve as the way to get Torchwood headed in the right direction. It just… felt like a huge waste of time. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with a gay love story in a show- I just didn’t believe the chemistry, and it felt like filler.

Nor did I like the instances where the team was separated, but learned the same information simultaneously. I understood separating Gwen from the rest of the team when she went to the camp in Wales to find her father (plot-wise, there needed to be a reason for Vera to go along when she wasn’t in Torchwood. Plus, it gave us more of a global picture of how the procedures were being handled). But was it necessary to have her figure out that they were going to burn the Category 1’s at the precise moment Rex & Co in California found it out? I would argue that it would have been stronger if Gwen had found out earlier, so that we knew what the stakes were when Dr. Juarez was put in the module, and knew all along.

I honestly don’t mind not understanding what the Blessing really was or how it worked. The whole point was understanding that you could reverse it. Though it was explained that it was the giant hole in the earth that somehow emitted the morphic fields that allowed “the Miracle” to take place.

I actually liked Rex, though I could have done with a little less typical American, and a little more of the tough guy struggling with still being alive. No, I don’t mind him being immortal now, too. Considering how the Blessing worked… there was no other logical outcome for him. Besides, it ended the season with a laugh.

I am mad that they killed Esther. I wouldn’t have minded her dying in the first four episodes (mostly because she just couldn’t seem to wrap her head around what clandestine meant), but I really enjoyed seeing her finally get her act together and grow up. I am mad that they killed Vera Juarez, a smart & sexy woman, by making her suddenly unaware that the skeezy man who’d been making misogynistic comments to her might be about to snap. There was nothing about him that didn’t scream “I hate women” in a skin wearing sort of way. To add insult to injury, both of their deaths were less about them and more about motivating Rex to do something. Forget Women in Refrigerators, here we have a Woman in an Oven. (And yes, I do realize it would have been weird for the entire team to survive.)

I know, it sounds like a lot of things I didn’t like. But all in all, there were a lot of things I loved. I fell in love with Gwen immediately. Having not seen her in anything but the brief appearance in Doctor Who, I had no frame of reference for who Gwen was- but I never doubted that she could be badass, yet soft. And funny. You got a sense of how close she and Jack were without having to see all the seasons of Torchwood. I still love Jack, and Barrowman deftly handled Jack becoming fully aware of how mortal he was (much like Matt Smith has done in Doctor Who).

But most of all, I loved the concept. In this day and age where we’re already aware of how finite resources are, where the pitfalls of healthcare have been shown- it felt very timely, and a very accurate reaction by the world to the problem of a population that still became sick, but never died. I liked the reactions of the population, people marking themselves as outcasts, people declaring those still alive as freaks of nature, and people hanging on the word of a child molester simply because he was notorious- based on who we are now, it all seemed extremely plausible. Not to mention that I liked the Family’s motivations of wanting to be able to control the world by toppling the current systems.

Because of the things I enjoyed, I do hope that Torchwood gets another season. The concept was solid, but the execution was hit and miss. It’s entirely possible for a show have multiple episodes with intricate plots, fast pacing and still be filled with lots of heart. Look no further than Doctor Who.

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