Last week’s episode has certainly divided audiences; some loved it and others felt it’s been over Americanized. That said, nearly five million tuned in to watch and I-player figures were suitably impressive, so a million less than its predecessor but still very solid. I’m sure that as its being shown in theUSfirst; downloading played a part in the slight ratings drop. Some reviewers and bloggers have written the show off already which is somewhat premature as it’s only just started. There wasn’t an outcry when Torchwood was briefly considered by 20th Century Fox for a reboot and ongoing budget cuts at the BBC were making a fourth full run unlikely. Barrowman himself even said at the time of Children of Earth;
“The five episodes, the miniseries as I call it, are incredible – I have no doubt about that – but personally, I felt like we were being punished. Other shows move from BBC3 and 2 to 1, and they don’t get cut. So why are we? It felt like every time we moved we had to prove ourselves.”*
If the BBC could only commission another five episode run on their own I have no doubt it would of been good but Davies and Co were clearly feeling stunted with limited means. Time will tell if this pays off but Miracle Day as a whole should be seen before drawing final conclusions.
On with the review,
Picking the story up instantly from New World, Matheson is transporting Gwen and a newly mortal Jack back toAmerica. What could possibly go wrong?
The appearance of Dichen Lachman (Sierra from Dollhouse) further extends Davies’s love of all things Whedon and she has fun as the CIA agent with a hidden agenda. All of the scenes on the plane served well to fill in a few gaps as to where Jack has been since we saw him last. There’s also an impressively tense sequence to mix Jack a cocktail of on board ingredients to counter the poison he has been given. Gwen’s “I’m Welshʼ line before knocking Lachman out was priceless.
Danes TV interview is an interesting approach but his message to the parents of his victim while powerful felt a little forced. He has served his punishment but how does the law stand up in a world of undying people? How does it change our sense of morality? Dane’s gives an articulate speech about taking food where he can find it to a female TV crew member who openly loathes him. After his interview she goes out of her way to say sorry, she now has sympathy and pity for him. The power of the media is a miracle in itself, but just as unnerving as the days events. Seeing this potential PR expert Jilly Kitzinger tries to convince Dane’s that he needs her help. Clearly she knows much more than she lets on and her part in the day’s events is yet to be revealed.
The population is rising and panic is starting to sink in, globally. Hospitals are over crowded and germs are starting to adapt which presents the disturbing notion of super viruses as another threat for mankind to face. The final five minutes were more tension fuelled than anything we have seen on Torchwood before. Drummond discovers she is being set up and gets word to Matheson as he is transporting Jack and Gwen that he is walking into a trap. This was truly edge of the rift television.
Matheson has to join forces with Torchwood as they are now all targeted. Rendition also answered that age-old question of “What would happen if you broke somebody’s neck and they couldn’t die”. Just in case you ever wondered.
Wayne Knight was a nice bit of casting, I couldn’t help calling him Newman when he appeared but that is just the Seinfeld fan in me. Due to Knight’s wealth of comedic roles it was a little difficult to take him seriously but it’s great to see him join the cast.
Overall this was another strong episode; Doris Eganʼs script was well crafted and gave secondary characters and the developing story room to breathe. Slickly directed by Bill Gierhart who, in addition to directing the next three instalments, has also directed episodes of The Shield and the hugely under-seen Sons of Anarchy. So far this transatlantic partnership is really working for me.
I am also liking the old time serial feel to this season; it’s oddly reminding me of Doctor Who from way back when. Rendition was a more story based episode that was tense where it needed to be and emotional when it had to be. It’s almost hard to believe that only two episodes have been aired so far as they have packed so much in. “Welcome to Torchwood”.
Torchwood continues with Dead of Night next Thursday on BBC 1 at 9pm.
*Taken from an interview that can be found at http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/jun/30/doctor-who-torchwood-john-barrowman