Torchwood is back.
Barrowman seems to have been created to play this role. He was born in Scotland and moved to Illinois at the age of nine with his family. Barrowman is gay as is Russell T.Davies who is almost entirely responsible for reviving Dr Who and creating the Torchwood spin-off. I mention this because a strong gay theme runs through Torchwood making it one of the few TV sci-fi series that sees homosexuality in our future.
At the end of the last series only two Torchwood operatives remain alive, Captain Jack and his female colleague Gwen, a welsh ex-policewoman who can hold her own against even the most grisly adversary. Shocked by the devastation that took place Captain Jack took some time out and we last saw him being transported into space for a touch of R&R.
The new series opens with Gwen, her husband Rhys and their new baby living in seclusion as they attempt to put their post Torchwood lives on a normal footing.
The action jumps between the UK and the USA reflecting the real world co-funding arrangement between the BBC and Starz, an American television network. Russell T.Davies hopes that Torchwood can make it in the USA and like it’s star, Barrowman, I suspect that making that transatlantic journey may be a seminal moment for the series.
As an avid fan of sci[fi I’m prepared to watch almost anything, and I enjoy Torchwood. It’s a Boy’s Own adventure with plenty of action and the pleasant ability to occasionally surprise. It’s a bit strange having the Torchwood HQ set in Cardiff, somewhere like Ottawa would seem more natural but maybe people in Ottawa say the same thing when stories are set there. I remember the Torchwood site when it was a dry dock so my experience is going to be different from yours.
Anyway back to the story. I wrote earlier that Captain Jack is immortal. His body repairs itself and this has been used in previous storylines to good effect. The premise of this story is that Jack is now mortal and everyone else in the world is now immortal, hence the title, Miracle Day.
Initially this would seem to be good news until we see a convicted paedophile/child murderer released because he can’t be killed. Also we see mutilated bodies, one even decapitated, blinking and hanging on in ther. Like Freddy Mercury says, Who Wants to Live Forever?
The special effects are OK though the promised raising of the bar due to the bigger budgets isn’t really noticeable. I think if you give the production team a bigger budget they get to have more fun by hiring real helicopters and having real guns but these days CGI is so good it’s hard to tell the difference.
There’s some typical Russell T showmanship with a missile zooming right through Gwens cottage, (just after they decorated too). Also Gwen clutching her infant and running around shooting at said helicopter is quite funny.
Sometimes they let the desire for a “good shot” spoil things dramatically. I don’t know anyone who thinks a beach is a good place to avoid a helicopter ambush and to be honest I have no idea who the hell was in the chopper anyway. Maybe I missed something or maybe it’s for later but I think the helicopter was just to show off some of the extra budget again.
So the world will sink under a rising tide of humanity as people fail to die. New babies born, no-one making room. That failed to convince me. We’re human beings, we’re perfectly capable of so completely atomising a body that no amount of immortality can resurrect it. Morticians, Doctors and Priests may need to re-skill but the socio-economic problems are a bit dull.
I would have preferred to see more gruesome consequences or some attempt to address religious issues but I haven’t seen the second episode yet so who knows.
What does annoy me is the hero who seems to know everything, who works things out by simply hand banging their head and shouting “Of course” and who has that slightly supercilious look that says “Whatever happens I’ll figure it out and save us”.
I guess it’s too early to say if this all works out. If they can retain the quirkiness and attract a loyal US fan base. Part of me wants it to be a success and for it to become a multi writer, American style adventure with American style ensemble treatment and part of me says “well that didn’t help Star Trek”.
The world already has a religious group that raises issues regarding death as a blessed relief. Jainism seemed like a really cool and caring religion when I first learned of it. Then I watched a documentary where the consequences of Jainism were explored. The Jainists apparently do not take life. Any life. Diseased or injured animals are not euthanased leading to what many see as unnecessary suffering. Immortality without the ability to repair would indeed be horrendous. Much like those individuals born without the ability to feel pain. You think “ that sounds cool” but when you think about it you realise the dark side. Broken limbs, burns, untreated ailments simply because the body cannot send it’s warning.
Seems like Freddy Mercury was right, few of us would actually want t