Torchwood: Miracle Day Series Review: Bi-Polar Viewing

TORCHWOOD – MIRACLE DAY: Every Thursday for the last couple of months, BBC1

After ten episodes of immortality, death camps, global economic downfall, controversial paedophiles, transatlantic clashes, and soft pornography; judgement day finally fell upon Torchwood: Miracle Day, as it hurtled to a close with a magnificent harmony of “what?â€?, “what?â€?, “what?â€? and “what the hell?â€?

This series has been a very mixed bag. A Pick’n’Mix bag, some may say. As if the greedy production team, fuelled by precious pocket money from American network Starz, picked sweets from every box at the Pick’n’Mix booth and shoved it into a big Torchwood cauldron. And we all know that chocolate balls and foam shrimps simply don’t complement each other. Ha, chocolate balls.

The series really struggled to locate itself. Half of it wanted to deal with the philosophical and social drama about the consequences of immortality for the human race, and the other half demanded an international high-octane science-fiction action-adventure. Like the antipodes of Buenos Aires and Shanghai through which The Blessing ran, Torchwood: Miracle Day was bi-polar.

In a recent interview, creator Russell T Davies insisted that the transatlantic tension caused by the relocation of Torchwood to America was “written to clashâ€?. An interesting turn of phrase, wouldn’t you agree? The opening episodes were greeted with a lot of ho’s and hum’s and ho-hum’s (criticism) and no matter how hard Davies pleads that it was written to clash, it simply clashed. Like an angry tiger and Russell Crowe in the coliseum.

Where was the fun? Where was the welsh humour that we know and love? Where were the hundred-metre tall CGI demons? The overall tone and presentation was confused and disorientating. It felt like we’d done all the hard work of establishing a quality television show and the Americans sauntered in at the last minute and claimed victory. Ah, World War Two. Who ever said historical stereotypes were a thing of the past?!

And then Torchwood forgot about the transatlantic clash for a few episodes, and moved onto concentration camps, and categories of life, and furnaces, where poor old Dr Vera went up in smoke. Poor Vera. Things became serious for a while, and soon enough the seriousness and ethicality rocketed as murdering paedo Oswald Danes crawled out of the shadows and into the spotlight.

Bill Pullman, what a man. Who could forget his incredible speech in Independence Day as Will Smith and the world prepared to face the alien foe … “Mankind, that word should have a new meaning for all of us today … we will not go quietly into the night!â€? I could quote the whole speech, but I won’t.

Pullman’s depiction of Danes is truly astounding, from his straggly appearance and nervous ticks to his slithery voice and the sheer awkwardness of the way he moves. It is by far the performance of the series. Of all the ambitious plots attempted throughout this series, the Oswald Danes saga was executed to perfection.

Another character closely associated to Danes was PR extraordinaire Jilly Kitsinger, played by the talented Lauren Ambrose. Kitsinger is lovably hate-able. Hate-ably lovable. Everything about her is fiery. Her hair, her lipstick, her attitude. She fights her way through life with ruthless manipulation and opportunism, but there’s something about her which is very endearing. Like fire, she is intriguing but dangerous. And smoking hot. [I joke, I’m secretly scared of redheads.]

Talking of heat, temperatures soared midway through the series as Barrowman’s omnisexual Jack Harkness spent a minute or two doing naughty things with another man in 1927 New York. This was essentially a soft porn scene. The complaints flooded in. Some were blatantly homophobic, with others arguing that the show presented a glorification of homosexuality because heterosexual coitus was not given similar explicit treatment. My mother was among one of the shocked. She hastily re-titled the show ‘Pornwood’.

Moving on. Last night’s finale was easily the best episode of the series, mainly because it was completely mental. Mental, mental; chicken oriental. What began with magnetised droplets of blood (which were eerily similar to the little blackberries from the Ribena advert) ended with brilliant tension, nonsense explanations, utter carnage and more than a few shocks.

The first shock was the death of Esther. With so many different plots, sub plots, sub-sub plots and larger-than-life characters, poor little Esther was severely over-looked throughout the series, but her death was necessary for an uber-dramatic ending. I also thought that fiery Kitsinger had kicked the bucket in a ball of flames in Shanghai, but she survived and was then re-recruited by The Three Family’s for Plan B after this ‘trial run’.

The mere mention of a Plan B suggests that there will be another series which will continue the story of this mad economically, socially and historically shattered world. This brings us to the final shock of the episode: the resurrection of CIA field agent Rex Matherson. Yes. How did you feel about that? The Rex-urrection. It was a crazy ending to a crazy series.