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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Torchwood: Miracle Day: Episode 3: “Dead of Night” (review)

Torchwood Miracle Day

Previous: Episode 2: “Rendition”
Thank you, Torchwood, for sucking so much I can’t even enjoy naked John Barrowman.

Torchwood Miracle Day naked John Barrowman

Nope. Nuthin’. I won’t be in my bunk.

It’s totally terrifying how bland and boring this American Torchwood is. I can’t believe how badly written it is. It’s everything I feared would happen when we heard the show was moving to America — both storywise and productionwise — and everything I reassured myself could not happen because Russell T. Davies would still be in charge.

How did Davies let this happen? Everything is so hamfisted, so clunky, so pointless, or so random… sometimes all at once. Oswald Danes makes no sense as a prophet or hero or whatever he’s supposed to be. It makes no sense for him to have gone on national TV. It makes no sense that he’d trust cops. It makes no freakin’ sense at all that anyone would forgive him for the brutal and (previously) unapologetic rape and murder of a child. Whatever hidden motives Danes might have that may eventually be revealed, nothing can excuse the utterly unconvincing notion that huge portions of the public would be treating Danes like a rock star. Perhaps if he’d been the only person suddenly turned immortal, that might give some people pause, and cause to wonder if there might be something special about him. But that’s not what happened. It seems to me that the general response would be the same one the couple from the dinner had: pure rage. We’ve seen nothing to explain why this isn’t the case.

Bill Pullman, though… he’s great. The scene in which he confesses to Jack how he really feels about what he did is powerfully creepy, especially since this is so far removed from the types of characters he usually plays. Kudos to Pullman, at least.

On the flip side, the attempts at humor are painful. Gwen doesn’t notice for long minutes that she’s driving on the wrong side of the road, until Rex points it out to you? Come on. “Banter” about how crisps are chips and lemonade is flat. Really? I can’t even begin to fathom how any respected professional screenwriters would come up with this… certain not Jane Espenson or Davies. Their subversion is an alien plot I could buy. It’s the only explanation.

Torchwood Miracle Day naked John Barrowman

Nope, still not helping.

Good lord, the sex. None of it is hot: it’s silly. Jack is feeling mortal so he picks up a cute bartender. Perhaps if this were a deviation from Jack’s normal behavior, it would be notable or interesting. But Jack has always been sexually omivorous, so how is his taking a shag break in the middle of a dangerous adventure anything new?

Let’s not even go into the “I am Jack’s romantic desperation” phone call to Gwen. Seriously: ’shipper fan fiction writers would have been embarrassed to pen that.

Rex and Juarez? I laughed out loud at this. It’s like one of those ridiculous Penthouse letters:

Remember that time we all got immortal? Well, I was on the run from a CIA conspiracy, possibly one involving aliens, after I had survived being impaled through the heart, when I broke into my doctor’s house for some bandages and pain medication. Before I knew what was going on, we were having sex!

Holy crap. I suddenly realize that the awkward dialogue these characters have shared since Episode 1, which mostly involved her being completely professonial and him be a complete jerk, was supposed to have been indicative of sexual chemistry between them.

In this world of the Miracle Day, would people still make jokes in which they request that someone shoot them to put them out of their misery?

Torchwood Miracle Day

The Soulless? Might be nice to have the teensiest explanation for what prompted this. Gwen shrugging it off doesn’t cut it. Having your characters dismiss stuff that makes no narrative sense by saying as much is such a dirty cheat.

Torchwood Miracle Day

“Bigger on the inside than the outside.” Yea! A tiny Doctor Who reference that no one will get. Fine. What makes no sense: Torchwood gets apparently unrestricted access to the headquarters of Phicorp, the pharmaceutical company that seems to have known Miracle Day was coming, and they head for the office of the PR lady? WTF? It’s a pretty safe bet that whatever insider info Lauren Ambrose may have about what Phicorp is up to, she doesn’t know the half of it. And Torchwood would know that.

I am gripped by an unpleasant feeling that no one behind “Miracle Day” gives a shit about it. When Wayne Knight says, “They’re everywhere, they know everything,” and that these mysterious They have been around for decades, he’s either wrong about that, which would seem to be contrary to what we see happening here, or it contradicts the established universe in which this story is taking place. Unless UNIT is behind Miracle Day. Because while Davies et al may want to pretend they don’t know from Doctor Who, they also seem to be forgeting the background of Torchwood, too. This not-feeling-like-Torchwood thing “Miracle Day” is suffering from may be a feature, not a bug. And that scares me more than Oswald Danes.

• Great quote:

“I was a Catholic, too, once. I got better.” –Dr. Juarez

Next: Episode 4: “Escape to LA”



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  • Radek Piskorski

    God all these comments are so old, I’m just unlucky for having discovered TW so late. I started watching because of the Cardiff setting (I want to move there) and then got hooked by the end of season 1 (I don’t usually watch any TV other than TW). Season 2 was great in my opinion and CoE just had me drooling with excitement, suspense and angst. That was probably the best TV I’ve ever seen, even though it abandoned some of the things I liked about TW.

    For me, TW is about chance and non-identity, about time and space mixing everything and getting pleasure from it and chills from the danger. Sexy danger. And I loved how personal and simple things were: like when the Rift opened in 1942 but it was just a big bright light. I like this small budget things. CoE felt AMAZING because it felt desperate, like the actual characters having to deal with some very serious and complex things. I think it managed the personal to public shift very smoothly. I’m still trying to come to terms with the fact that CoE feels more like old-school alien stories, with big bad aliens and normative notions of identity and normality, but REGARDLESS, I was absolutely entranced.
    My favorite episodes were the simple personal dramas, like the one with Tosh and the frozen guy, Jack in 1942, the undead guy trying to sell the alien eye, the asylum for people dumped by the Rift, Suzie’s crazy plan, the one with the machine that relived long lost memories, the freaky one about the cannibals in the countryside, that giant space whale butchered for meat, etc.

    Come to think of it, I don’t know WHY I loved CoE so much, because it’s so different. I remember having the same feeling I had when reading Harry Potter: you like those characters so much that you actually want nothing to happen so they’ll stay safe. You cheer with them when they’re trying their best to get themselves to safety. 
    But if you think about it, the 456 didn’t bring any enlightenment to anyone and produced no sense of wonder and self-discovery. That was very un-Torchwood.

    Miracle Day feels WEIRD! What is this all about? I’m tired of Oswald’s storyline! What’s up with those Welsh coastline scenes with the sheep? I want Tosh baaaaaack!!!!

  • Radek Piskorski

    God all these comments are so old, I’m just unlucky for having discovered TW so late. I started watching because of the Cardiff setting (I want to move there) and then got hooked by the end of season 1 (I don’t usually watch any TV other than TW). Season 2 was great in my opinion and CoE just had me drooling with excitement, suspense and angst. That was probably the best TV I’ve ever seen, even though it abandoned some of the things I liked about TW.
    For me, TW is about chance and non-identity, about time and space mixing everything and getting pleasure from it and chills from the danger. Sexy danger. And I loved how personal and simple things were: like when the Rift opened in 1942 but it was just a big bright light. I like this small budget things. CoE felt AMAZING because it felt desperate, like the actual characters having to deal with some very serious and complex things. I think it managed the personal to public shift very smoothly. I’m still trying to come to terms with the fact that CoE feels more like old-school alien stories, with big bad aliens and normative notions of identity and normality, but REGARDLESS, I was absolutely entranced.My favorite episodes were the simple personal dramas, like the one with Tosh and the frozen guy, Jack in 1942, the undead guy trying to sell the alien eye, the asylum for people dumped by the Rift, Suzie’s crazy plan, the one with the machine that relived long lost memories, the freaky one about the cannibals in the countryside, that giant space whale butchered for meat, etc.
    Come to think of it, I don’t know WHY I loved CoE so much, because it’s so different. I remember having the same feeling I had when reading Harry Potter: you like those characters so much that you actually want nothing to happen so they’ll stay safe. You cheer with them when they’re trying their best to get themselves to safety. But if you think about it, the 456 didn’t bring any enlightenment to anyone and produced no sense of wonder and self-discovery. That was very un-Torchwood.
    Miracle Day feels WEIRD! What is this all about? I’m tired of Oswald’s storyline! What’s up with those Welsh coastline scenes with the sheep? I want Tosh baaaaaack!!!!

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