Torchwood: Miracle Day began its 10-week long day on Starz on Friday night. The miniseries brought the Torchwood crew back on TV for the first time since 2009, when all the Children of Earth were threatened. But in this series, no one is really threatened because no one can die anymore- except perhaps for the immortal Captain Jack Harkness himself. However, will this Miracle Day be a Godsend for the world, or at least for eager fans?
A lot has changed for the Torchwood universe since the last miniseries- and not just because of the deaths and horrific choices at the end of Children of Earth. Not only is the return of Captain Jack, Gwen Cooper and company airing on Starz instead of the BBC, it is moving away from Britain entirely. Since an American cable channel is financing the new season, most of the action is centered state-side, although the whole world is afflicted by this new mystery.
The premise of Miracle Day has the planet becoming immortal, and then breaking apart at the seams because of it. These kinds of consequences fit right into the Torchwood formula of envelope-pushing sci-fi plots, which has worked well since the Doctor Who spinoff launched in 2006.
But the stakes are different this time, since this is the first season on the regular American airwaves. Although fans have been assured that nothing will change- except for a larger budget- the reviews so far suggest a bit of a step down.
Critics got a peek at the first three episodes, including Friday’s premiere, and were varied in their praise. While Children of Earth got rave reviews, Miracle Day has garnered more doubt so far, with a score of 70 on Meta Critic. Although no one has posted an entirely negative review, there are seven ‘mixed’ ones on the site compared to 16 positive- yet only three scores are above 80.
Since the critics only reviewed the start of the series, there is still a lot of time for Torchwood to win them over more. However, after the high standard set with the previous seasons and with Children of Earth, and considering all the new changes, there is more scrutiny than usual.
Starz’s original programming is still trying to take its place with HBO and Showtime as a cable powerhouse. It is best known for graphic thrillers like the Spartacus franchise, which has helped the channel get a foot in the door. Yet the Torchwood franchise is a different prospect altogether, as Starz is now caring for a brand that’s already big around the world, and is trying to get even bigger.
There are more doubts than expected that Miracle Day can take Torchwood to the next level in America, judging by reviews. But there’s still nine weeks left of thrills, mystery, and a very low body count before everyone can be sure. Future episodes air every Friday night at 10 p.m. ET on Starz.
Meta Critic- “Torchwood (UK): Season 4”