Torchwood: Miracle Day – episode 1
Episode One – a great introduction for viewers who are unfamiliar with Torchwood but containing enough throwbacks and Welsh-isms to keep existing fans happy, and to give us that slight smugness we get when we’re watching something unfold and think we might already know what’s going on.
But do we? Because this time, everything is different.
The Torchwood Institute as we know it is gone – all deleted save for a mystery word in an email, a cottage by the sea and an impending global catastrophe. Just the way they like it then. Captain Jack Harkness is back but he’s no longer the leading man we’ve come to know. Instead he’s a darker, more mysterious character, working in the shadows and alone. And Gwen and Rhys are holed up in a Welsh cottage with their new daughter and whipping the guns out every time there’s a knock at the door. Gwen, always a one for adventure and excitement and not afraid to get stuck in, is hiding from the world she knew. And previously just Gwen’s husband and having to watch from the sidelines, this time Rhys is right in this by Gwen’s side, and even though he’s not a fighter like her the way he wielded that shotgun shows that he’s taking no prisoners when it comes to protecting his family. The familiar is suddenly unfamiliar, the stakes are high, and this time nobody knows what’s going to happen. Not even Captain Jack.
And wasn’t it brilliant?! As an opener I thought it was great; enough of a mystery to keep us intrigued but with sufficient smatterings of gunfire and explosions to keep us excited as well. The whole production looks more sleek and polished as well, similar to the way Children of Earth looked in comparison with Torchwood’s first two series’. This is because Miracle Day was put together in a very different and more ambitious way than before – for a start, although it starts in the familiarity of Cardiff it quickly reaches much further afield that Wales, with much of the plot of Episode One being set in Washington DC. In fact, much of the shooting on Miracle Day actually took place in LA thanks to BBC Cymru Wales’ new partnership with both BBC America and Starz Entertainment. Torchwood – like Doctor Who’s recent series opener – has gone Stateside, and if this first episode is anything to go by this three-way partnership looks to me like it’ll work out rather well.
Torchwood has upped its game once more, in production values as well as in scope. If Miracle Day can successfully shake up the Torchwood format the way Children of Earth did, and if it can capture the imagination of the wider TV audience in the same way, and if it can do this without losing the Welsh-ness and the heart that made Torchwood so enjoyable in the first place – then I reckon this series is going to be big. For now we’ll have to wait and see.