What would you do if you knew you could not die?
The BBC hit television show Torchwood asks the audience that question in the new miniseries Miracle Day, which premiered July 8 on the American cable channel Starz. By partnering with Starz, the BBC aims to bring Torchwood to a wider American audience who may not already be fans of Torchwood or its parent show, Doctor Who. In Miracle Day, producers Russel T. Davies and Julie Gardner attempt to go above and beyond the 2009 miniseries Torchwood: Children of Earth, which brought a more serious tone and epic scope to the show. However, new fans do not need any previous knowledge about Torchwood to enjoy Miracle Day, even though the show does include some brief references to previous seasons.
In Torchwood: Miracle Day, an unimaginable phenomenon engulfs humanity; nobody can die–not from old age, not from heart attacks, not even from explosions or decapitation. The moment the phenomenon begins someone, or something, sends a message across the internet–a single word, “Torchwood.” Two CIA agents, Rex Matheson (Mekhi Phifer) and Esther Drummond (Alexa Havens) find themselves drawn into a new world of adventure as they attempt to learn more about the Miracle Day phenomenon and the mysterious Torchwood agency.
Meanwhile, the last remaining Torchwood agents have their own problems to deal with. Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) must track down the source of the “Torchwood” message, while Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) must protect herself and her family from gunmen trying to eliminate Torchwood once and for all. Captain Jack Harkness and Gwen Cooper end up as unwilling partners to Rex Matheson and Esther Drummond once the CIA agents track them down.
As an avid fan of Torchwood and Doctor Who, I enjoyed the first episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day. At the moment, though, I wonder what route the writers and producers will take for this show: will it play out as a typical thriller or as a mind-bending science fiction adventure? For Miracle Day to surpass the ambitious and groundbreaking Children of Earth, it needs to push the envelope and challenge the audience with the implications of worldwide immortality.
The best moments in the episode occur when the characters struggle to deal with the changed world in which they find themselves. For example, the state of Kentucky releases a convicted killer after his failed execution, and we will see the consequences of that decision in later episodes. In another instance, Captain Jack witnesses an “autopsy” of a bomber who is little more than charred bone and sinew, yet still alive and conscious. While one of the doctors insists that the man is a patient and must not be harmed, Captain Jack and the medical examiner wish to experiment on him to see if he remains alive with his head disconnected from his body. In those moments, Miracle Day pulls no punches in asking the audience to explore the meaning of justice versus injustice and pragmatism versus idealism.
I also enjoyed seeing how the character Gwen Cooper has grown since the beginning of the series. Although Gwen’s role as a Torchwood agent creates tension between her and her husband Rhys, and they moved to an isolated country cottage in the aftermath of last season’s harrowing events, Gwen seems more confident now than in the past. When Gwen fires at a gunman while holding her baby daughter in her arms, I felt that Gwen has come a long way since Captain Jack first gave her shooting lessons.
Catch episodes of Torchwood: Miracle Day Friday nights at 10 pm Eastern on Starz, or watch episodes online at Starz.com.
Torchwood: Miracle Day — A STARZ Original Series, Official Site, Starz.com.