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Friday, July 8, 2011

Preview: Torchwood: Miracle Day

MARCH OF THE SOULLESS: The Soulless stroll through downtown Atlanta during lunch Thursday in Peachtree Center.
  • Edward Adams
  • MARCH OF THE SOULLESS: The Soulless stroll through downtown Atlanta during lunch Thursday in Peachtree Center.
Around lunch time in downtown Atlanta yesterday, you may have caught a group of people wearing sad face mask and toting apocalyptic signs that read, “Death Ends” at some point or the other. It was part of Starz big push to promote their latest sci-fi series Torchwood: Miracle Day that premieres tonight at 10pm.

Miracle Day, as fans now call it takes place just a couple of years after the Children of Men debacle that spelled the untimely end of the Torchwood team and separated its two surviving members Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) and Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) to parts unknown. Until now that is.

In the show’s pilot: A New World, people are starting to come to a shocking reality — no one is dying. No matter the circumstance or severity of injury, no lives are lost. The word spreads and the media dubs the incident Miracle Day. In Kentucky, Oswald Danes (Bill Pullman), a hated pedophile and child killer is about to undergo execution by lethal injection. When the deadly dose of poison doesn’t do the job, people are stunned. The CIA investigates and a nervous analyst, Esther Drummond (Alexa Havins) uncovers a single word in her fact finding — Torchwood. Esther’s senior field agent it Rex Matheson (Mekhi Phifer), a rough-and-tumbled jock vying for a promotion who could care less about the incidents occurring, until what should have been a fatal accident pulls him into an unwilling pawn in the events unfolding around him.

As hours turn to days, there’s still far too many questions left unanswered; what’s keeping people alive, what will happen to the food supply, why are no other creatures affected? While several groups grapple with the impact and desperately try to find answers, the veteran team-up of Jack and Gwen, bring their investigation to the U.S. with a few reluctant recruits: CIA agents Matheson and Drummond, to round out their new team.

  • Starz
The sheer genius of incorporating larger philosophical questions about sustainable population and socio-economic quandaries, even in a supernatural environ is what has made Torchwood stand out amongst the rest. This marriage of science and morality has been the long-standing calling card of the Torchwood series and is fostered by the series’ creator, Russell T. Davies.

Torchwood, though steeped richly in Britt sci-fi, shadow man intrigue, Davies continues to hold firm in his signature cheeky humor and inexplicable melodramatic moments. This becomes more apparent as his antagonists manifest in subsequent episodes of Miracle Day. Danes, released due to a technicality in the legal system, partners with a Pharmaceutical Rep and PR Agent Jilly Kitzinger (Lauren Ambrose) to become a spokesperson for the people desperately trying to cope with the effects of event their forced to deal recon with. But from the start you know something is brewing just below the surface and it doesn’t take long before the plot is revealed and the team solidifies to put a stop to it.

The newly formed hodge-podge team feels a bit at times like a band of stereotypes than an elite team of agents that quell paranormal activity. We’re familiar with Harkness’ devil-may-care attitude towards all things and Gwen’s rough Wales exterior and gooey overly sensitive heart, but Phifer’s Matheson acts like a troubled detective a ripped directly from a true-crime novel and Drummond, his never-too-far-away analyst feels like the iconic mousy assistant that keeps him in the game. Look for another member of the new team to manifest in upcoming episodes. I suspect the emergency room doctor who saves Matheson’s life in the pilot, Dr. Verna Juarez (Arlene Tur) to take on the fifth position of the team. With Torchwood lacking its usual cache doctor and scientists, Juarez is the natural fit to fill that void.

As with all Torchwood arcs, the main question is never if Jack and crew will save the day, but subsequent fallout of the decisions the team is forced to make, which are never easy. The moral powder keg Davies creates with each season of the original series is the ingredient that has kept fans addicted to the show since its debut in 2006. And I think this Summer, Starz will have a sleeper hit for their Friday night prime time line up.

Torchwood: Miracle Day (3 out of 5 stars) premieres on tonight on Starz at 10pm.

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