Monday, July 18, 2011

Torchwood: Miracle Day. Who are these people?

When your Twitter timeline accelerates to an unreadable blur, it’s generally a sign that something special’s on the telly.

When the warning before a TV show isn’t for bad language, flashing lights, or even boobs but a mysterious ‘something that some readers may find upsetting’ then it’s generally a good time to start paying attention. After all, what could it be? Peanuts? Gluten?

That happened to me the other day, when Doctor Who’s anagrammatic spinoff Torchwood returned for a new series.

A number of recent TV series, especially BBC TV series, have flirted with America. It’s a big market and if you can consistently sell your content over there, worries about licence fees would be a thing of the past.

The new series did a lot more than flirt with America though. It slipped off its slingback under the table and boldly thrust its stockinged foot into America’s groin for a full hour.

Not content with the team’s existing team leader, a sexually and geographically ambivalent American-accented Scot, Torchwood: Miracle Day spent most of its first half hour establishing an all-new all-American character. Played by ER star Mekhi Pfeiffer, Rex Matheson is a CIA agent who is one of the first beneficiaries of an extraordinary global phenomenon.

In ‘Miracle Day’, nobody dies. No-one’s sure why. Sure, people can still get pretty chivvied up: A suicide bomber is converted into a distressing-looking sentient pizza but still survives.

It’s a a bad day for morticians and undertakers, but it’s triumph for the makeup and effects department, who have clearly been paying attention to The Walking Dead. It’s also a bad day for Torchwood’s very own Captain Scarlet, Captain Jack Harkness who seems to have lost his own immortality just as everyone else has gained theirs.

The only other surviving member of the original Torchwood team is Gwen Williams (née Cooper). A mother and ex-cop for whom the adjective ‘feisty’ seems to have been coined, she is now living in seclusion somewhere on the Welsh coast with her husband Rhys for whom the adjective ‘long-suffering’ seems to have been coined.

Gwen and Rhys have a lovely picturesque cottage, a baby, and a metric eff-load of firearms. They have no evident revenue stream, but that’s OK because Torchwood’s about to re-emerge after a year of hiding.

Whether Gwen will get any back pay or not isn’t made clear. But whatever you do don’t show up at her door selling cleaning materials or religious magazines. She’s proper hard.

Gwen’s a lot less groomed than she has been in previous series. The cheeky asymmetric fringe has been supplanted by a rather 1940s job. I was sceptical at first, but can after some reflection confirm that Gwen is still ‘one for the Dads’.

Over in the ‘USA’ (which does, it must be said, resemble an anonymous UK market town as often as not) the CIA are trying to work out why no-one’s dying. All the ladies in the CIA turn up for work wearing a fruity top and bags of lippy. Just a point, for all you British espionage professionals. Bit of effort costs nothing.

The very first person to catch the ‘not dying’ bug is a sinister serial killer type played by Bill Pullman. No small effort was made to execute him by injecting his arm with the stuff from inside a glowstick, but it didn’t take so he was set free.

Yes. Really.

That's what happens apparently, if the glowstick poison doesn't work.

He hasn’t done much apart from loom and gurn so far, but I get the impression that he’s going to be a serious problem for CSI Torchwood USA over the coming few weeks.

I’m assuming that Rex Matheson and fruity lipgloss agent Esther Drummond will join the Torchwood team on a loosely permanent basis – probably with no formal interview process or staff induction.

I’m assuming that  child killer Oswald Danes will head up some kind of sinister cult.

I’m assuming that Gwen and Rhys’s baby will suffer no lasting ill affects from having an assault rifle and a rocket launcher fireed a few inches from her head.

I’m assuming that we’ll all be watching episode two.


  1. I've only just realised that Torchwood is an anagram of Doctor Who. I'm a moron.

  2. Wel - on the one hand yes, you missed something that was hiding in plain sight.

    On the other hand, at least you're not a freakin' NERD.

  3. Hi Mikey, probably a bit of a weird way to catch up but hi! I stumbled upon your blog and thought it would be rude of me to come and go without saying anything.

    By the way, i thought you didn't even own a television?

    Little Stevey
    aka billy noodles
    aka kitts mate