Fri
Jul 8 2011 1:34pm

Torchwood: Miracle Day: “The New World”

Torchwood: Miracle Day episode review

Well done, Russell T. Davies.

Torchwood has had a rocky history. It’s first two seasons were wildly uneven while the third season, the five-episode serial story Children of Earth, delivered a potent and highly emotional story the series had never seemed capable of.

The move to the United States and Starz for Miracle Day cast the future of the series back into doubt. With Russell T. Davies continuing to guide the series, could it maintain the quality it achieved with Children of Earth? Or would working within Hollywood’s structures, as opposed to the BBCs, change the direction and tone of these characters?

If the first episode “The New World” is any indication, Davies has pulled off a spectacular snythesis, blending the potency of Children of Earth with fresh excitement. Torchwood: Miracle Day is an invigorated science fiction experience.

No spoilers.

“The New World” offers a fantastic jumping on point for new fans without neglecting the progression of these characters or the trials they have been through in previous series. As the episode opens, we discover that Torchwood has been long defunct, although the trauma of being in Torchwood never seems to have left Gwen and Rhys.

Torchwood: Miracle Day episode review

The bulk of the episode concerns itself with introducing CIA agent Rex Matheson, his assistant Esther Drummond, Dr. Jaurez, and murderer Oswald Danes. (The series opens with Danes and the details of his crime are an immediate promise to the viewer that the same darkness that inhabited Children of Earth will be recurring in Miracle Day.) All four find themselves linked by the events of Miracle Day, and Drummond in particular notices that all information on the “Torchwood” organization seems to have been wiped from all electronic files at the same time.

It’s not long before Drummond’s connection draws out Captain Jack Harkness himself. His reappearance is a quiet shock you don’t see coming, even though you’re expecting little else by that point in the story.

Further, Davies proves remarkably deft at resolving the ireedemability given to the character at the end of Children of Earth, handling it in one line of dialogue and one intense sequence later on in the episode. Davies is at the top of his game here, delivering a tight, exciting script that still gives its main characters room to breathe.

Gwen and Rhys’ journey is similarly well-handled. Her reintroduction to the life of Torchwood is gradual, building and building up to a golden moment at the climax of the episode. (And perhaps one of the most well-earned helicopter explosions in television history.)

Torchwood: Miracle Day episode review

The new characters are engaging, the action is intense (Gwen and Jack’s reunion is fantastic), and there’s a lot here for both new and old fans.

To be clear, “The New World” is primarily an action piece. The premise of the show is extremely intriguing but doesn’t get a lot of exploration here, as the episode is largely concerned with reuniting our favorite characters and introducing the new ones. As an opening action piece, “The New World” functions marvelously. If the series can expand on the implications of Miracle Day as the series progresses, and tell some intimate character stories along the way, then Torchwood: Miracle Day could become a masterpiece of character-based science fiction storytelling. I’m excited to watch it unfold.

Excited yourself? You can watch “The New World” right now online at Starz’s website.


Chris Lough is the production manager at Tor.com.

20 comments
David Thomson
1. ZetaStriker
I can't help notice that Gwen is holding just about the cutest baby I have ever seen.
Chris Lough
2. TorChris
The baby is ridiculously cute in the episode. And how considerate is Gwen to have provided gunshot earmuffs for the little tyke?
Rowanmdm
3. Rowanmdm
I have seen that pic of Gwen and her baby several times, and each time I love it more.

Now I can't wait to get home and watch the episode! I don't have cable, so I'm wondering if Starz will put all the episodes onlione or just the first one. Does anyone know? I really hope so since I strongly prefer watching things the legal way.
Rowanmdm
4. Gerry__Quinn
The earmuffs ARE cute. Though most paediatricians say it is actually preferable not to bring babies to gunfights at all when they are that young.
Ursula L
5. Ursula
I just caught the episode online, (thanks for the link!) and I agree, it was fantastic. It already seems as intense and thought provoking as CoE, but the pacing is fantastic, since they didn't try to force it into an episode-per-day format.

Actually, in some ways, the pacing seems impossible, as something that sounds like a single conversation is often actually several, with seemingly hours in between, with bits taking place as people travel or whatnot. What sticks in my mind is a conversation that started as a plane was leaving the US, continued as the plane landed in the UK, jumped to driving across a bridge to Wales, etc.
Rowanmdm
6. pantagruel
well I can't see it unfortunately. It just loops in starting playback... FF 3.6.18 Windows XP.
Del C
7. del
They told me not to bring a knife to a gun fight. Nobody said anything about a baby.
Karen Lofstrom
9. DPZora
I supposedly have a high-speed DSL connection and so far it has handled everything I watch. But the Torchwood ep is arriving in five-second bursts, interrupted by buffering. Are their servers getting hammered, or is my connection flunking the test?
Phil Frederick
10. flosofl
Mine's streaming great, but I happen to actually use Xfinity (Comcast) internet (30Mbs) and cable TV... So I might not be the best benchmark since I'm on the same network as the streaming server.
Karen Lofstrom
11. DPZora
I went to the Xfinity support site, read that their software doesn't work with Firefox 5.0 (!!!), installed an older version of Firefox, and the #%$#@$%# show still wouldn't play without stutters.

So I gave up and watched Miracle Day from a pirate site. I *tried* to be legit.

I was less than overwhelmed by the episode and missed the opening music of the original series. Hoping that eps will improve as the series unfolds.
Rowanmdm
12. TomT
Intersting.

Oh and it did stutter for me for the first couple of minutes and then during the helicopter bit towards the end.
Valentin M
13. ValMar
edit: apparently it's not out until next week... I thought it was on this Sat.
Rowanmdm
14. Rowanmdm
It premiered in the U.S. Friday and will show in the UK next week.
Rowanmdm
15. kidentropia
the main idea is absolutely intriguing. i hope they explore the implications deeply in the next few episodes. and bill pullman is disturbingly creepy.
Ursula L
16. Ursula
I have the same questions as #3 about whether STARZ will be showing all of the episodes online. Also, how long will each episode be available online?

Will we be having a spoiler-friendly review/discussion thread for these episodes? Perhaps timed with the UK broadcast?
Dave Chua
17. davechua
Gwen looks like Chow Yuen fatt in John Woo's Hard boiled. Cute ear muffs!
Scott Harris
18. vitruvian
So, did the numbers add up on the 'population boom' thing, or no?
Steven Halter
19. stevenhalter
The earmuffs are especially cool in the show as you see Gwen pause to pick them up and put them on the baby and then procede to blaze away. Quite well done.
The premise is really interesting.
Rowanmdm
20. nigel d woodward
Movie over you pepal that are in to zoombes miracle day the new world sets the cats are mung the peggins . This was the most over the top zoomby si fi show in town. Way to go DAVID well don from Oze?

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