Torchwood Miracle Day which is currently airing on BBC One and I am enjoying it.
Speaking as a fan of Doctor Who, I respect Russell T. Davies for dragging Doctor Who from the deepest darkest pit of science fiction and back into the mainstream. (That said I am more of a fan of the Steven Moffat era which is darker.)
When Davies left Doctor who to work on Torchwood I was intrigued but it never really caught my imagination. It was meant to be a more adult spin-off from Doctor Who but came across as a low-rent X-Files. The ideas were mostly good but the execution was occasionally lacking, dialogue could sometimes waver on terrible and the tone was uneven and they needed a bigger budget. Re-reading that I feel I’m being too mean because it was far more original than a lot of stuff on television.
When I heard it was moving to America courtesy of Starz network I was a little cynical about how it might work but with American money and the visions in Russell T. Davies’s head have a big enough canvas to be explored and enjoyed.
I think a lot of this comes down to the hiring of Jane Espenson. All of those criticisms I made earlier about the writing, gone. She’s a veteran of genre TV in America having worked on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Battlestar Galactica and she has smoothed the transition and now the show is set-up and the forces are in place I can’t wait to see the resulting fireworks. What has gone down so far has been a mix of the gruesome and the action-packed with a tone that is far more familiar from big-budget American sci-fi shows but with the originality that Russel T. Davies brings.
Acting is brilliant and the tone they get fits well for what I think Davies has always aimed for. John Barrowman is as charming as ever playing Captain Jack and Eve Myles plays her Welshness up well as Gwen Cooper. The new cast of Mekhi Phifer (from E.R. and the brilliant Spike Lee film Clockers) as C.I.A. Agent Rex Matheson and Alexa Havins as Esther Drummond gel in nicely. The American characters fit in rather well and moving the show to the US has been well handled. Although I’ll miss Cardiff as a location the bigger scope offered by the US is welcome.
Big name Bill Pullman (Space Balls, Lost Highway, The Grudge) is the only one who doesn’t sit as easily… I can’t say I really buy into Oswald Danes, a heinous murderer, becoming the new messiah of a world without death because his crime is just too great for the public to forget but this is more a problem with the plotting. Pullman should be praised for putting in a good performance – the man really does loathsome well.
So with the Walking Dead imploding with Frank Darabont’s departure, Torchwood remains the one bright genre TV spot for me.
For more information visit the BBC’s website!