Thursday, September 15, 2011

Torchwood: Miracle Day-A full series recap and review

First thing first if you told me when I was a kid in the mid 80s falling in love with TV that one of my favorite series would one day be a sci-fi, British series that first premiered 20 years before I was born I would have called you crazy.
Anyway as it happened Christopher Eccleston (#9) was my 1st Doctor  and then David Tennant (#10) came into the picture  and I’ve been a Whovian ever since. I have to start with mentioning this great series because if it wasn’t for Doctor Who (and The Doctor) there would be no Torchwood Institute or Torchwood series. Which brings me back to my title thought Torchwood: Miracle Day season/series 4 or 1 depending on who you talk to?
Since the series premiered in the U.S. on Sept 8th 2007 Torchwood has had everything I have always wanted in a TV series. Drama, Comedy, Romance, Friendship, Action, Adventure, Horror and Sci-Fi. Basically any genre you could find in a bookstore. Yes I was one of the millions around the world who cried at the events that ended Children of Earth but I mourned and got over it two years later when Miracle Day premiered.
When last we left our Torchwood team Gwen Cooper (the Brilliant Eve Myles) was pregnant and Captain Jack Harkness (the fantastic John Barrowman) disappeared -from Earth. When the new season began we were immediately introduced to three new characters--CIA Agent Rex Matheson (the great Mekhi Phifer from e.r) Computer analysis Esther Drummond (the wonderful Alexa Havins from All My Children) and death row inmate Oswald Danes (the amazing Bill Pullman). These characters were thrown into a magnificent and strange new story--A day in which no one dies. Not a new idea but Torchwood knows how to put their spin on it and even improve it. Every good series starts with a good story written by good writers like Miracle Days’ Russell T. Davies (Series Creator) and Jane Espenson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica) just to name two.
Now that we have an idea and writers time to put the pieces together.
One day-no one dies, the next day no one dies followed by the next and the next, days turn to weeks and weeks become months. So now what? What can the government do? What can the average person on the street do? This is a world wide event and no one knows what is happening or how long it will last. Enter Captain Jack Harkness (yea!) and new mum Gwen Cooper. Along with Oswald Danes whose death sentence wasn’t able to be carried out and Rex Matheson who was in a not so deadly as it should have been accident. Gwen is also personally affected by this so called miracle when her father gets seriously ill. Things are getting personal and when things get personal they get dangerous.
There are so many questions.  How did this happen? Who is in charge after Miracle Day? Who is behind the miracle? What do you do in a world without death? What are the laws of life and death? Who decides those laws? How do you determine who/what is means to be alive and dead? What do we do with the “dead”? Immortality is the new norm, what now? Do we really want to live forever (have you ever seen a happy vampire)? Can we stop The Miracle and what happens if we do? What do we do with the hurt and sick, let them be that way forever? Who is trying to kill Jack? What do we do about the population growth; the Earth can only subs stand a certain number of inhabitants? What, who is Torchwood? As each episode flies by we go deeper and deeper into this new, unexplainable, mystery upon mystery world.
Once we have the plot the story has to start answering these questions using the characters (new and old). In Miracle Day ALL of the characters become intertwined with each other and one is as intriguing as the next. As the story moves the relationships change and develop over time. Each actor is enjoyable to watch and because of this I found myself caring for all of the characters. To get a better idea of each lets go one by one, let me start with the
CAPTAIN JACK HARKNESS (who may be my favorite character ever!)- Leader of Torchwood who was already immortal (and has lived a long life) at the start of the day. His job is to bring back Torchwood, against his better judgments, and work outside the system to fix the world and bring back death (sounds awful but what is life without death?)
GWEN COOPER- Jacks original team member, daughter of MARY and GERAINT, wife of RYS WILLIAMS (the talented Kai Owen) who has been by her side since before she joined Torchwood and mother of cute baby AWEN. Gwen has worked on these types of cases with Jack for years and Miracle Day is no different. When she sees Jack again for the first time she remembers how she misses the job and is ready to go!
REX MATHESON- An arrogant, dislikeable (at first but by the end I liked him) CIA agent who was suppose to die on Miracle Day, saved by DR. VERA JUAREZ- who also wants to help (Arlene Tur), tracks down Torchwood, brings them from the U.K. to the U.S. and reluctantly becomes part of the team much to his dislike of Jack and his tactics.
ESTHER DRUMMOND - CIS computer analysis who has never worked in the field, sister to Sarah and Aunt to her daughters. Sweet and naive, but smart and learns how to become an asset and all around my kind of girl.
OSWALD DANES- Un-killable death row, child rapist/murderer. Quickly becomes known as the face and voice of Miracle Day. A celebrity in his own rotten way. Thinks The Miracle is the best thing to happen to humanity.
JILLY  KITZINGER (the superb Lauren Ambrose) - An enigma? When we first meet her she is a PR person employed by the pharmacy company PhiCorp she is hired by them to help and watch Oswald as his celebrity rises. But there is something un-nerving about her and her goals. What does she really want out of Miracle Day? And why would she help and join THE FAMILIES?
And then there are the rest who may have only appeared in one episode but were just as good and important to the story as the above.
So cheers to Andy (“when Torchwood calls he shows up”)(played by Tom Price who rocks), Brian Friedkin (Seinfeld’s’ Newman, Wayne Knight), Lyn Peterfield (Dichen Lachman), Noah Vickers (Paul James),Charlotte Willis (Marina Benedict), Ellis Hartley Monroe (Mare Winningham), Stuart Owens (Ghostbusters Ernie Hudson), Angelo Colasanto (Daniele Favilli), Olivia, Angelos’ granddaughter (Nana Visitor), Allen Shapiro (John de Lancie),  with C. Thomas Howell and Frances Fisher. And the rest-you all were a pleasure to watch as guest stars. The actors had great chemistry together (especially when they were with JB) and again EVERY character was wonderful and believable.
Even though the story started slow, because it had to introduce new cast and characters, once it got going it didn’t stop! Once the first episode aired I knew I would love the season as much as the three before! From episode to episode, scene to scene (including 2 controversial sex scenes) I laughed, cried, cheered and sat on the edge of me seat yelling at the screen! You know you are watching a good series when just one small and subtle scene stays in your mind weeks after it airs, in this case it was Jane Espensons’ written description and John Barrowman’s acting style that makes me still want to see a Firebird in person. I could describe it here to anyone but I don’t think I could give it the justice they did. There were plenty of “cookies” for the core Torchwood fan (woodie) like the contact lenses but plenty of new stuff for those just starting the adventure.
In the end I felt as I did at the end of season two. Sad for some of what happened, but happy for the Torchwood Team and hopeful that they will move on. As I re-watch the season on my DVR I feel as excited as I did when the episode 1st aired, maybe more so now that I know what happens (then again I could watch any episode from any season over and over and never get tired of it)
That is why I love TORCHWOOD so PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE Russell T. Davies, WE WANT MORE!

Dedicated to David Bianculli whose TV Worth Watching I read everyday.
To every Woodie or Torchie out there for giving me the courage to chat, rant and rave and obsess over our little show.

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