Day 267: American Torchwood

Stars and stripes proved to be step too far for the Doctor Who spin-off…

September 24 main

Everything was going so well for Torchwood. It started on BBC Three. Then season two was promoted to BBC Two. After that “Children Of Earth” debuted in BBC One and was rightfully lauded as one of greatest pieces of British screen sci-fi ever (apart from by a few tunnel-visioned Ianto fans who went completely insane over his death and still can’t let it go today).

The next step was a US co-production, with most of the action set in the United States. Not only that, but legendary telefantasy scriptwriter Jane Espenson was on the writing team alongside Russell T Davies.

What could go wrong?

Well, after a decent opening episode, just about everything.

There were many things wrong with “Miracle Day” – exposition that went on foerever; some cheesy acting; a plot that preferred action/adventure plotting and shock tactics over exploring the dramatical possibilities of a strong central idea (everybody on Earth stops dying); a distasteful subplot about a child molester that never justified its inclusion; a ludicrous climax that explained everything away with a giant stone vagina. But worst of all it was just a bit dull, which is quite an achievement for a show that boasted talking corpses, people being sent to incineration chambers and exploding Welsh cottages. Sadly, episode two set the template, with an entire episode spent on a plane from the UK to the US that could have been cut to one scene without harming the arc plot, and not offering much of interest to compensate. When episode two of a series feels like an exercise in padding, you’re in trouble.

It was such a disappointment after “Children Of Earth”. I tried to like it; hell, rereading my reviews on the SFX website you can see me straining to find positives (they usually involved Gwen or a a bit of smutty dialogue). I did enjoy rereading this except from my review of episode eight, though: “Watching Torchwood: Miracle Day is increasingly like watching Andy Murray play tennis. Just before it comes on you hope for the best, but can’t help getting anxious. Occasionally, after a wobbly start, it can come good in the final set (as with “Categories Of Life”). But more often you get an episode where impressive rallies are followed by silly unforced errors that just make you wince.”

But you know what? I still wish the show could return somehow, in some form, even though I’ll never be able to watch Captain Jack again without thinking of this…

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Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 08.15.30

See you tomorrow.

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