Torchwood: Miracle Day (2011)


Our Rating: 2 out of 5

Rated: TVMA


Reviewer: Charity Bishop


What if you woke up one day and everything had changed? What if all of the sudden you couldn't die? What if no one could? Could it be considered a miracle... or a nightmare?


Everyone has been waiting for the death by lethal injection of child-murderer and convicted pedophile Oswald Danes (Bill Pullman)... but he survives his lethal injection. Elsewhere, other similar events are unfolding... engaged in what should have been a lethal accident when a piece of steel sliced into his heart, CIA agent Rex Matheson (Mekhi Phifer) somehow manages to survive -- and wakes up. He is merely one of dozens of patients who should not have survived fatal accidents and suicide attempts, a phenomenon the press has dubbed "miracle day." But the thing is... it doesn't just last one day. The miracle continues the next day, and the day after that... and what was initially seen as a miracle rapidly escalates into horror. Life when death should be instinctive is no life at all -- it is a living hell. Imagine what should have been a fatal accident -- having your neck snapped, your body so badly burned all that is left is sinew and a skeleton... and you're still conscious and aware of your surroundings.


Physicians show concern and are brought into discussions with pharmaceutical companies... and the miracle has come to the attention of the former members of the disbanded British secret organization known as Torchwood. Disbanded after the deaths of most of their colleagues, Gwen (Eve Myles) is living in secret in Wales with her husband and child, and Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) is on the run. They become interested when Rex's associate Esther (Alexa Havins) stumbles across their files and alerts them to what is going on. Digging deeper puts all their lives in peril and unravels secrets of the past, as well as making them aware that out of all the people on the planet, only one of them could die... Jack.


To be honest, this has never been one of my favorite shows, because Jack Harkness repulses me. His stint on Doctor Who was fairly enjoyable but the adult spin-off series leaves a lot to be desired. I admit, the first couple of episodes this season gave me reason to hope that for once, the writers were going for plot and character development rather than their usual fare of mindless sex-death-and-violence. Nope. The deeper I waded into the ten-week series, the less interest I had and while the finale is decent (if predictable) it left me with no desire to continue with future installments. I will say that they added some nice cast members -- I particularly liked the character of Esther and thought her sweet innocence was a nice diversion from the norm. Bill Pullman also puts in a terrific performance. It also has some great moments -- like Gwen plopping a bright pink pair of bunny ears on her child's head and shooting the villains attempting to break into her house. There are twists and turns and betrayals and other shenanigans -- along with a healthy dose of what Torchwood does best: make you uncomfortable with their social commentary. If this series isn't a bid to get rid of government intrusion into health care, I don't know what is.


Where does one even begin, regarding content? Language is nominal, which surprised me -- there's one f-word, a half dozen uses of GD, and scattered profanities. Violence is infrequent but usually gruesome -- blood spatters walls, explosions go off, and people are "dispatched" in any number of ways (of course, none of them actually die) -- strangled, suffocated, stabbed, shot, and in one instance, killed multiple times for the enjoyment of a crowd in various ways (mostly off-screen). The final episode is quite bloody. A disturbing subplot includes debate over what to do with the "mostly dead" people -- inevitably, they are taken off to ovens and burned alive; one major cast member suffers this fate -- while conscious. Danes is a convicted pedophile who makes nasty remarks about his previous crime ("she should have run faster"); he asks to be visited by a prostitute and is supplied one, but she escapes after being smacked around. Jack frequently makes reference to his homosexual tendencies and spouts innuendo. An subplot spanning several episodes revolves around his gay affair with an immigrant in the 1920's. He picks up a man for a one night stand in a gay bar. There are numerous same-sex kisses and three (presumably graphic, I wouldn't know since I skipped them) sex scenes -- two of them homosexual, one heterosexual (two transpire in the same montage of the same episode).


Sometimes good, sometimes downright mundane, this latest season of Torchwood left me feeling a tad bit disgusted, because it seemed as if the series was more interested in being controversial than it was in telling a good story. It had moments of total illogic absurdity and was pointlessly gratuitous -- like much of Starz's original programming -- and my tolerance level isn't what it used to be. Most of the series I have managed to block from my mind, but in the process my dislike for it has tainted my experience with Doctor Who. Do yourself a favor -- avoid it.