One of the first things that's enjoyable about Torchwood -- Miracle Day is that Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) kicks serious butt in this premiere episode, "The New World." The pic above is my favorite scene from the premiere episode, the new mom holding her baby with one hand and firing with the other--and yes, she remembered to protect the baby's ears with ear muffs...hah. Probably not entirely realistic, but it's a great sort of graphic novel heroine shot.
I also liked that the Gwen we have here is consistent with the Gwen of the first season of Torchwood. That Gwen was curious and always on the hunt for answers, which is what got her hooked up with Captain Jack in the first place. Now we see her hiding away, trying to protect her family, but the instinct to ferret out answers to the world's (universe's) great mysteries is still strong.
The bad news is that the American version of Torchwood chose to balance Gwen's tough mother role with the CIA employee Esther--a so typically American TV star who is tiny and frail and blond, but who we're supposed to believe is all tough and ready for danger. Soap star Alexa Havins really does a fine enough job with her role, and she's not too squeaky as the damsel-in-distress at least, but it would have been nice for a Brit-based show to think outside the box on casting the American version. At least Havins is 30 and not 18, so I'll give them that.
There's also Dr. Vera Juarez (Arlene Tur) who does well as the doctor who treats CIA agent Rex Matheson (Mekhi Phifer), and then explains how everyone in the world seems to have stopped dying--regardless of their injuries. She loses a bit of her credibilty, however, considering the fact that at one point she's dispensing treatment while wearing her white coat open over her red cocktail dress and stiletto heels. Very professional.
(Alert: Spoilers for Episode 1) The premise is intriguing, and one of the things Torchwood has always done well is to pursue an idea to its limit--whether for good or bad. Here we see what most would initially consider a "Miracle Day"--no one dies. Loved ones return to their families, accident victims get a second chance at life. People start thinking about the potential for immortality.
But then there are the terrifying downsides that most wouldn't have considered. Like the fact that these people live through their ordeals--but are still suffering in agony from their injuries or illnesses. A guy gets blown up by a bomb--but still lives. Not such a good thing after all. Never mind sudden population explosions.
Captain Jack (John Barrowman) is a little bit more like his old self, and gets to have a cool, spooky entrance into Esther's life--and then gets to turn on the charm just a bit. He's obviously still shrouded in what happened to him during "Children of Earth," but reuniting with Gwen puts a little sparkle back in his eye. These two are definitely good together, and Barrowman's and Myles' enthusiasm for the project shows in their performances and in the glow of their reunion.
Captain Jack gives us an added bit of drama to this Torchwood -- Miracle Day storyline. The entire world has turned immortal, and the already immortal Jack is now...mortal. This is a pretty scary time to be flesh and blood, when all the world feels--and is--invincible.
The story is compelling, and the mystery of who/what caused this sudden "Miracle Day" is delicious enough to make me want to tune in for more. I'm also happy to see Captain Jack and Gwen back in action with rocket launchers and a ready-for-anything attitude.
What doesn't quite work yet is Russell Davies' approximation of how Americans talk and act. I guess American writers probably portray Brits as too stuffy and stiff, and saying "mate" all too often, but in Davies' case, his "I'm so tough and cool, I swear and stuff and don't give a crap about anyone because I'm American" version of Rex is kind of annoying and a bit...'80s Lethal Weapon. I mean, heck, his name is "Rex." You can't get anymore '80s than that.
Davies has also had a problem with overindulgence on the Torchwood series. Because Doctor Who was considered more of a family program, I guess he perhaps felt limited when writing for that show, so he turns all of that desire for "adult" and "arty" vibes onto Torchwood. Therefore you get overdone innuendoes, gory close-ups of mutilated bodies, and some really corny soliloquies and melodramatic emotional outbursts that seem more suited to an Off Off Broadway play.
It's a good thing Captain Jack is so cute, and Gwen so kick-ass.
Watch Torchwood -- Miracle Day on Starz, every Friday night at 10/9c.
PHOTOS: Torchwood -- Miracle Day screencaps, c2011 BBC Wales, BBC Worldwide, Starz.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
No, it's not Captain Jack Sparrow of POTC fame, it's Captain Jack Harkness of Doctor Who spin-off, Torchwood. After the last, heart-breaking and offensive "Children of Earth" season, I've been cautiously hopeful about the upcoming American reboot. TVLine reports we've got only a few months wait for the new Torchwood premiere, which lands on Starz on Friday, July 8.
There are two new pieces of info that leave me even more conflicted about the new series. First, is that the season's plot will revolve around the entire planet becoming immortal. I really would have preferred a return to individual stories per episode, and seeing the new team at work, rather than another epic, global arc. Plus this seems to be another of those types of stories that's going to lead to "mountains of agony" as drama. I realize Torchwood has always had a darker edge than Doctor Who, but I preferred the scary and sexy stuff to the gut-annihilating existential angst.
Second is the news that Bill Pullman has been cast as a regular on Torchwood. I LOVE Bill Pullman, but in my head he is and always will be the delicious romantic leading man in Sandra Bullock film While You Were Sleeping. Why this man didn't have a big career in similar parts confuses and annoys me--though I think possibly that was his own doing. Deadline describes his character Oswald Jones as a "dangerously clever convicted murderer." Ack. The only part that's keeping me happy is that the character is also "genuinely repentant." If we get an intriguing, conflicted, sympathetic character arc, Pullman could be brilliant.
Because of John Barrowman and his beautiful, charming and adventurous Captain Jack, I'll be tuning in to the new season of Torchwood on Starz. But I hope creator Russell T. Davies doesn't make me regret it--again.
Get more info on the new season of Torchwood here.
PHOTO: John Barrowman as Captain Jack, Torchwood Season 2, screencap c2010 BBC.
Monday, December 13, 2010
Wow. It looks like season 4 of Torchwood is really happening. After the initial news of an American version of Torchwood, I put it out of my head, fearing the worst about changes to beloved Captain Jack (the scrumptious John Barrowman) and where the storyline could possibly go after the tragedies of Torchwood: Children of Earth. Those reporting the news weren't actually sure it was going to gel after all, so I didn't want to get my hopes up.
Torchwood: The New World is a go, however, and the news is a little brighter. Firstly, Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello reported on casting for Torchwood that included a call for a male actor to play intimate scenes with Captain Jack. So it seems that the American broadcaster of Torchwood, Starz, won't be dialing back Jack's fluid sexuality for puritanical US audiences. Huzzah to that.
Secondly, Eve Myles is returning, as well as Gwen's hubby Rhys (Kai Owen). Wales Online reported that Myles recently bought a vintage 60s home in Hollywood, where she and her family will live during filming in the US for Torchwood. The actors will be on set in January, and Torchwood: The New World is expected to air its new ten episodes in the summer--presumably on BBC and Starz simultaneously.
Thirdly, Deadline just reported that Lie to Me and ER actor Mekhi Phifer has been cast in Torchwood as CIA agent Rex Matheson. Spoiler TV has a detailed description of the character, who sounds like a smooth, sexy overachiever. I am beyond excited to see how Phifer and Barrowman interact on the show.
I wasn't sure I'd ever get over the cruelty that was Torchwood: Children of Earth, but the fact is that Captain Jack is just too good of a character to abandon, and I'll be happy to see Jack and Gwen together again. There's a two year gap between the storyline of Children of Earth and this new season 4, no doubt to give a reasonable amount of time for healing after the fatal events the duo endured. For my part, I'd prefer to just erase the whole last season, because the writers tainted Jack with their attempts at "drama".
So, I'm being cautiously optimistic about the return of Torchwood. Here's hoping the writers will treat us fans a bit better on this go around.
PHOTO: Mekhi Phifer in Lie to Me, screencap c2010, FOX.