Saturday, September 10, 2011

Torchwood: Miracle Day

For the past 10 weeks, I've been tuned in to my computer on Friday nights in order to watch the latest episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day.  While I had lamented more than once that it was going to be shown on Starz, which I had never heard of before, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I had access to the live channel through my Netflix account over the Internet (modern technology is cool). Tonight was the season finale, and it was most satisfactory.  The premise for season four was that all of a sudden, without any warning, one day all human death stops on Earth.  People think it's a miracle because no one is dying.  But soon people realize the implications of what this means.  The population continues to grow and within months the planet will be unable to support human life.  And no one has been graced with everlasting youth, so people are still aging. Worse yet, diseases aren't fading with death as they are supposed to; instead they are beginning to spread, making more people sick, the diseases mutating and becoming immune to antibiotics.  The "miracle" quickly turns into a curse. Enter immortal Capt. Jack Harkness (the ever-sexy and dashing John Barrowman) and his Welsh kick-ass partner Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles), the last surviving members of Torchwood, the institute set up by Queen Victoria to combat alien invasions (if you're lost, chalk it all up to Doctor Who mythology, which is how Jack became immortal in the first place...ya gotta love this stuff!).  This time around Jack and Gwen have to deal not with aliens but the human race as they work with C.I.A. operatives Rex Matheson (Mekhi Phifer) and Esther Drummond (Alexa Havins) to figure out how to stop the "miracle."  Riding on the tails of this is convicted murderer Oswald Danes (Bill Pullman) who's discovered the miracle has given him a new lease on life.

All in all, the series itself was good, but I didn't find it as thrilling or as intense as the three previous seasons of Torchwood.  I still think Children of the Earth (season 3) was one of the creepiest and unnerving sci-fi shows ever.  This season was too episodic, meaning it felt like it was filmed as a series of one-off shows, not a full-arc movie, which is what I was expecting since the entire season was one ongoing storyline.  Jack wasn't nearly as dynamic or as charismatic as in the past, but they sure gave him ample opportunity to show him his naked butt and have some hot gay sex scenes.  This is one of the great things about Torchwood: it's the only television show that has been willing to make its hero not just gay but actively gay.  Gwen was an absolutely ferocious agent in this show and definitely carried the weight of the show.  I have to say though that Lauren Ambrose's character Jilly Kitzinger (seen here), as a pharmaceutical company public relations representative, was superb.  Ambrose deserves an Emmy nod for playing a neurotic bitch willing to do anything to get something out of the insanity of the so-called miracle.  Ambrose was amazing in Six Feet Under, so it's no surprise that she was such a strong character here as well.

In general I often found myself frustrated by many of the episodes, but I stuck with it because the premise was so interesting (usually it's an epidemic wiping us out, not the end of death destroying civilization as we know it).  The last episode tonight, however, did a fantastic job wrapping things up and leaving you with a few surprises.  Because this is Torchwood, they're not afraid to "kill off" important characters, but they also managed to come up with a few plot twists that made this final episode very satisfactory.  It also leaves the viewer wondering if another season will be coming.  As for Capt. Jack, I can't help but wonder if he'll ever return to Doctor Who for another guest stint.  Can you just imagine River Song and him in action together?!  Lordy, the universe would never be the same.

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