Torchwood: Miracle Day, Episode….oh who the hell cares.

Gwen Cooper and Captain Jack

In 1999, a video game called Shenmue was released for the Sega Dreamcast. It was intended to be a detailed, virtual version of the world with real life possibilities.

Unfortunately, it was so realistic that you had to do things like get a job as a forklift truck driver and go to work every day for quite a long time in order to save up for a passport, which didn’t exactly make for thrilling gameplay.

It seems last night’s episode of Torchwood had also embraced ‘ultra-realism’, with the main characters spending 55 minutes milling around, looking confused, having meaningless conversations, repeating themselves, shrugging, asking each other if they know what’s going on, repeating themselves, wandering round a house twiddling their thumbs and waiting around for the results of an autopsy. And repeating themselves.

Even in the final dramatic scenes where Esther is driving a critically injured Jack away from the house where the entire nothing-filled episode was set, she simply cries a lot, wonders aloud what to do, cries a bit more, says ‘er’ and scratches her head a bit before the episode mercifully draws to an overdue close.

Maybe other programmes will embrace the same realistic trend. I’m looking forward to the episode of Coronation Street where we watch the characters take a long bus ride home from work, make their dinner, sit down in front of the TV and watch Coronation Street.

Or maybe – just maybe – Russell T Davies isn’t being a trendsetting postmodernist after all. Perhaps – and bear with me here – the simple fact is we got the final scrapings of the barrel of this very basic plot several episodes ago and he’s given up even trying.

Last week we were introduced via flashback to Jack’s past-boyfriend Angelo, a first generation 1920s Italian immigrant in New York. The surprise twist at the end of the episode was that – wow – Angelo was somehow still alive in 2011 and – double wow – he knew who’d caused the Miracle. The Torchwood gang leapt into a car with his granddaughter to go and see this kingpin behind the whole ridiculous premise.

It seemed we were finally about to get some desperately needed answers after loyally trotting after the ‘why aren’t people dying?’ carrot for seven weeks. But we were wrong. In this week’s increasingly bizarre episode opening, the Torchwood team show up at Angelo’s house to find a comatose and ancient bloke in a bed. Turns out he’s managed to stay alive by ‘natural means’: i.e. keeping his body 2 degrees cooler than recommended, presumably by travelling everywhere inside a portable fridge.

Sorry but what a huge and ludicrous let down after letting us believe that Angelo- like Richard Madeley- had cracked the secret of eternal youth. Also, it turns out being slightly chilly and peckish can’t keep you alive forever. To prove this, Angelo quietly expires: possibly as a last ditch attempt to stop Jack kissing him.

But wait: people can’t die, can they? That’s the whole point of this endlessly drawn out plot. Cue the only revelation last night’s episode saw fit to deliver: the discovery of alien technology below Angelo’s bed in the form of a morphic field dampener looted from the remains of the Torchwood hub.

So Angelo had a device that cancelled out the ‘morphic field’ that’s causing this worldwide epidemic of aliveness: that’s hardly groundbreaking or revelatory news. Jack has repeatedly stated that the immortality is due to some kind of field affecting all of Earth’s inhabitants. We’re also no closer to knowing who the families behind it all really are or what the ‘Blessing’ is, which has also been extensively trailed for several episodes.

And let’s not forget the strange shoehorning in of Oswald Danes. As if saying ‘whoops, we forgot to include the edgy child-murdering character last week’, the action repeatedly cuts to him sitting in a hotel room failing to get off with a prostitute before punching his assistant in the face. It was like watching a US remake of Alan Partridge with Bill Pullman in the titular role.

Danes’ plot has gone absolutely nowhere and frankly it’s a huge waste of Pullman’s acting talents. Also, the idea that a convicted paedophile would win worldwide fame- be ‘loved by television’, as Jilly puts it- is vastly unlikely. It doesn’t matter what the current political climate is: the public would never fall in love with a child killer. The merest hint of the word ‘paedo’ makes them throw stones through pedalo rental offices and punch paediatricians in the face.

Unless the next two episodes are mind-blowingly revelatory and have at least four plot twists and eleventy-three aliens in them, Miracle Day will go down in TV history as the episodic, vastly expensive new version of BBC Testcard F featuring Carole Hersee and Bubbles The Clown. Unfortunately, judging from next week’s trailer, we’ll be spending 50 minutes watching an elderly Welsh woman hide in a cupboard.

Test card it is then.

Episode OneReview
Episode TwoReview
Episode ThreeReview
Episode FourReview
Episode FiveReview
Episode SixReview
Episode SevenReview

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About Hilary Wardle
Hilary is a freelance journalist and copywriter who writes for a wide range of websites, magazines and newspapers, including Buzzfeed, MSN, The Poke, Chortle, the Guardian and the Independent. She specialises in arts and entertainment, comedy, video games and viral content. Contact her at Hilary3@gmail.com.

8 Responses to Torchwood: Miracle Day, Episode….oh who the hell cares.

  1. “Unfortunately, judging from next week’s trailer, we’ll be spending 50 minutes watching an elderly Welsh woman hide in a cupboard.”

    Hiding from Hitler, or at the very least Chiles-faced wooden dollies, I hope.

    • Hilary Wardle says:

      If only there was a hitler or some dolls in the cupboard. Sadly, I think it’s going to be the almost-dead dad of Gwen and her mum. Gah.

  2. iworm says:

    Great review – as ever!! Love your stuff. 🙂 I don’t entirely agree with it though (see, I’m a sofistykated sort who can like something without entirely agreeing with it…) particularly with re. Oswald Danes. The whole “folks would never like a child murderer” – I think the point here is that ordinarily yes, but with all the religious overtones here (“Miracle Day”, dead/not-dead/resurrection, eternal life, yadda yadda) anything goes. His big “redemption interview” in the earlier episode (great acting!) was frighteningly plausible, particularly in a society well-disposed to religion, in all its forms, already (yes America, I’m talking about you)

    So I don’t entirely buy in to your view that it’s not gone anywhere. Granted maybe not gone *enough*. But then I’m just being a pedant…

    • ladyribenaberet says:

      Ah, yes- I did forget about Danes’ apologetic crying into camera a few episodes ago. And I suppose Neil and Christine Hamilton do continue to get work these days- proving that some forms of evil are so mesmerising people will pay £15 to see them in an Edinburgh Fringe show….hmmm.

      *concedes the point*

      Ooh, thanks for the praise by the way. I like it!

  3. iworm says:

    HTML removed my mega gag at the end of the comment above… in parethesis: “Gets smacked in face for being a something-beginning-with-peda-person”

    Bugger.

  4. iworm says:

    BTW, flattered though I am, do you change the site’s appearance every time I leave a comment…?

    Silly remark, I know, but I’m a paedomorph at heart!!

    • Hilary Wardle says:

      Twas merely a coincidence, worm. Merely a coincidence

      *checks website development chapter about making commenters feel valued*

      Oh, er- no: I mean I did it all for you. IT WAS FOR YOU

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