Sunday, July 10, 2011

Finally ready to share my secret, Torchwood: Miracle Day

Now I was never really into Doctor Who (though I used to watch reruns of the orignal with my Dad as a kid), but I have always had a fascination with the new version's almost kitchsy spinoff show: Torchwood. Initially conceived as a vehicle for the character of Captain Jack Harkness (played to perfection by Scottish-American actor John Barrowman) and actress Eve Myles (who had played characters on the Doctor Who reboot), the show's first two seasons followed the "Torchwood Institute's" pursuits in Wales. The group was supposed to have been a homeland security of sorts specifically aimed at aliens, which was created by Queen Victoria circa the end of the 19th century.

While it sounds like something straight out of a comic book (or really terrible science fiction), something that the show has always excelled at is portraying the reality of human life. Although many of the ideas are stright forward science fiction plots, their impact is heightened by the humanist perspective taken by the show. In Harkness we find a sympathetic hero who is at once mysterious and attractive, and the show never shied away from portraying Harkness's romantic relationships, whatever they might be. While at times it seems a little over the top that seemingly everyone is attracted to Harkness, it plays well since the actors in the show are all quite committed to their various storylines.

With the end of series two there was a belief that the show had been cancelled but much like its leader, Torchwood seems to be immortal. Series three (Torchwood: Children of the Earth) was conceived and executed as a miniseries payed for by an Australian television channel. The premise being that Aliens have arrived on Earth with far superior weapons and demanded to take all of Earth's children. Scary stuff. The mini-series was a huge hit and as with it's past efforts, the show managed to take a new spin on the aliens from outter space motif. With the success of this third series, the show was picked up by US network STARZ and developed with a much larger budget for American audiences (surely with international distribution rights).

Torchwood: Miracle Day begins nearly 12 months after the close of series three with Eve and husband Rory on the run and Jack having disappeared. On this day, a condemned murderer of the worst degree (Bill Pullman, who plays the man to utmost perfection) is set to die in the southern state of Kentucky. His sentence is carried out, but he does not die. Nor, it seems, does anyone else on earth. For nearly 48 hours and counting. It is in this premise that the series has me hooked. Because who spends time thinking about what would happen if everyone just stayed living? At the surface it seems delightful, can you imagine never having to lose your loved ones? But then it takes a sinister turn and you are left wondering if this is in fact the miracle that everyone believes. What is the value of life if no one can die?

It's an intriguing question, and based on past experience I'm going to stick around to see how Torchwood answers it. I suggest you do as well. And if you have a few moments, check out the original UK series....they're bloody good ;)

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