Blu-ray Review: Strong Set For Disappointing ‘Torchwood: Miracle Day’

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CHICAGO – When “Torchwood: Miracle Day” premiered on Starz, I was completely up for the ride. My 4/5 review displayed a little bit of concern given that the show was often 5/5 in its original BBC America airings (and in the brilliant “Children of Earth”) but I held out hope that the show would iron out its wrinkles and deliver on the potential of its clever set-up. In fact, the opposite happened. Stretched to meet a running time that the writers couldn’t deliver on and ultimately cheesy where the original “Torchwood” had been edgy, “Miracle Day” is a disappointment. The Blu-ray release is still strong and there are some things to like here, but only diehard fans should apply (see every episode and “Children” before this…twice) and they’ll likely be the most disappointed. Blu-ray Rating: 3.0/5.0
Blu-ray Rating: 3.0/5.0

What works about “Miracle Day”? The premise — that everyone stopped dying one day and how drastically such a miracle would change the world forever. The performances, particularly the still-engaging work of the super-charismatic John Barrowman, an actor who should be much bigger stateside than he actually is. And some of the unusual supporting performances, including Bill Pullman and Lauren Ambrose.

What doesn’t work? The feeling in the mid-section that the show is spinning its wheels and the realization that you just don’t care any more about where it’s going. The sense that the honest, character-driven edge of the show has been replaced by a Starz-esque willingness to shock. And, yes, there’s a difference between being edgy and trying to shock the viewer. It’s subtle. But it’s there. “Torchwood” was often terrifying and heartbreaking. “Miracle Day” is cheesy and melodramatic.

For the record, the Blu-ray release is a typically strong one for BBC Home Video. The transfers are stellar and the special features are extensive. After “Torchwood: Children of Earth,” I was concerned that we would never see this brilliant show again but relatively comfortable with the idea that it was going out on a high note. Now, I really hope they do something else because this is their lowest note to date.

Torchwood: Miracle Day
Torchwood: Miracle Day
Photo credit: BBC Home Video

John Barrowman (Doctor Who, Desperate Housewives), Eve Myles (Doctor Who, Little Dorrit), Mekhi Phifer (ER, Lie To Me) and Bill Pullman (While You Were Sleeping, Independence Day) star in a new heart-pounding season of Torchwood.

When convicted child killer Oswald Danes (Pullman) miraculously survives his own execution, the footage holds America transfixed. And then everyone realizes that nobody is dying. All across the world, nobody is dying. People keep aging — they get hurt and sick — but they never die. The result: a population boom, overnight. It’s a race against time as CIA agent Rex Matheson (Phifer) investigates a secret British institution named Torchwood that seems to hold the answers. soon they all find themselves in the same fight against the greatest threat humanity has ever known - humanity itself.

Special Features:
o Audio Commentary
o Character Profiles
o Special Effects Feature
o Behind The Scenes Special
o Deleted Scenes
o iTunes Intros
o Web Of Lies Motion Comic

“Torchwood: Miracle Day” stars John Barrowman, Eve Myles, Arlene Tur, Mekhi Phifer, Alexa Havins, and Lauren Ambrose. It was released on Blu-ray and DVD on April 3, 2012. content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

Nina's picture

I'll still buy it for Eps 1 and 7

As a Woodie from day one, series one, I’ll still buy the set if only for Miracle Day episode 7 which is easily in my top five off the entire four series. The chemistry and conflict between Jack and Gwen was absolutely perfect in that episode, and was the only glimmer of TORCHWOODS past…John’s sex scenes didn’t hurt 7 either. Sadly, the Americanization was the huge mistake many predicted. I HOPE TW returns at some point for a 5th season, if for no other reason than to somehow quietly erase Rex from Whoniverse canon.

Lindie's picture

I don’t think I’ll buy

I don’t think I’ll buy it. I miss classic Torchwood. Torchwood will never be better than its glory days with the very beloved original team. I miss chasing aliens, the balance of humor and excitement and drama, and watching Jack and Ianto’s relationship continue to develop. I miss Owen and Toshiko and alien technology and the fluid sexuality of the original series.

They don’t need to keep trying to make it “bigger and better” – they just need to realize that they had something very special with classic Torchwood and it’s going to be damn near impossible to duplicate. If the creators and writers can’t evoke the magnetism of classic Torchwood, then please.. just let it be. The biggest gift that they could give to the fandom is to slip us all a huge dose of Retcon and let us keep Children of Earth as the fitting and final end to Jack’s time with Torchwood 3. That was the end for me.

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