Torchwood: Miracle Day

The varied spin-off of Doctor Who continues its hit and miss ways on series four, this time with more American backing.

Since it began as the ‘grown up’ spin off of the revamped Doctor Who in 2006, Torchwood has been a hit and miss affair at best.

Its first two seasons ran in a style similar to the new Doctor Who with ‘monster of the week’ style episodes which worked together to keep an over arching storyline going, then came the (to date) high point of Torchwood, Children of Earth, which was a miniseries dedicated to one story, and following that was always going to be a challenge.

Unfortunately what the show’s creator and head writer, Russell T. Davies, came up with ended up being a very well-intentioned mess of a series, where we re-join the surviving members of the Torchwood team as they team up with a pair of renegade CIA agents (amongst other more bit part players) in a globe-trotting quest to get to the bottom of the titular miracle.

At the start Miracle Day seems like a great concept, people stop dying and this causes serious problems for the world, and across the series it seems like the writers wanted to address some serious issues of modern life, including government control of personal life, the global financial crisis and, most obviously, the problems that can come from strong links between government and big business.

However, what seems to have happened is that these subjects are laid out in the most obvious terms one minute, often with exposition so clunking it feels like it came from a 30-year-old children’s TV show, and then forgotten about the next as we are treated to an action sequence which, considering the budget and such, look ok, but get repetitive and don’t quite match up to what other TV shows muster these days and often seem there for the sake of it.

The impression I came away from Miracle Day with was that it was a great idea for a mini-series, like Children of Earth, but due to the relationship with the Starz network it was expanded to a 10-parter which stretched the concept to breaking point.

This led to a decent, but ultimately unsatisfying series that never seemed to coalesce into what it seems to want to be, a genuine issue led sci-fi series, rather than a shoot ‘em up espionage thriller – Bill Pullman puts in a great unhinged performance though.

In terms of the Blu-Ray release it’s a basic affair at best, there are extras but they add little information beyond some of the crew and designers talking about how the special effects are done and introductions to each episode from Davies and John Barrowman which are cringe inducing calls to watch, which as I’ve already brought the Blu-ray of the series feel redundant and often contain spoilers of what’s coming up in the episode.

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