Friday, July 8, 2011

'Torchwood: Miracle Day:' First impressions

"Torchwood: Miracle Day" begins in gruesome fashion, depicting the execution of Oswald Danes (Bill Pullman) and Rex Matheson's (Mekhi Phifer) shocking car crash.

Fortunately for them, people on Earth have stopped dying, so they catch a break. It doesn't take long for CIA agent Matheson and his assistant Esther Drummond (Alexa Havins) to figure out that this so called miracle is connected to Torchwood.

Remaining Torchwood team member Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) is living in hiding in a small coastal village in Wales. It's clear she's bored out of her mind, but she's still alert, as evidenced in a funny scene where some tourists ask for directions and she and Rhys are armed to the teeth.

Rhys (Kai Owen) is fed up with all things Torchwood and loving the quiet life. However, they are quickly called back into action when they find out about miracle day.

Meanwhile, Esther continues investigating and eventually runs into the man himself, Capt. Jack Harkness. Jack is just as gorgeous and heroic as always. Unfortunately, the reset of life on Earth has changed him as well, so he is no longer immortal.

One of the great things about Russell T. Davies writing is that he doesn't waste a lot of time getting into the story. It becomes clear very quickly that this situation is dire.

For newcomers, the plot makes it relatively easy to jump in, as some Torchwood backstory is explained. However, long time fans will appreciate the inside references that play up the show's history.

What makes "Torchwood" work is the ambiguous morality it deals with. It's never black and white, everything takes place in shades of gray.

While the first episode is fast paced, it does take too long for Jack to show up on screen, and even longer for him to reunite with Gwen. When they finally do meet up, it leads to a classic "Torchwood" action chase that culminates in Gwen using a rocket launcher.

The show is at its best when the original characters are on screen together, It will definitely take a few episodes for the new cast to feel like real team members. Long time fans can't help but wonder how Toshiko, Owen and Ianto would have handled the situation.

It is unclear what role Danes will play in the overall story, since the controversial character only appears in three scenes. Davies has stated that the character becomes more important going forward, so fans will have to reserve judgment on that one.

While not as attention grabbing as "Day One" of "Children of Earth," the opening of "Miracle Day" has enough familiar "Torchwood" goings on, to keep die-hards and newbies interested.

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