Torchwood: Miracle Day – In which this viewer loses the will to live

It is traditional to talk about TV shows jumping the shark. But you can’t accuse a show like Torchwood of jumping the shark – a show with weevils in the basement and a pterodactyl in the rafters needs a better phrase to describe the moment when it’s past its best. And, I think we need that phrase now…

The Middle Men has its moments but they’re too few and far between. The proportion of cool to meh is exactly the opposite of what it needs to be for me to get lost in the story or the characters.

(Spoilers below the line)

If anybody cares, this week Jack tries to find out from the chief operating officer  of Phicorp operations (yay, Ernie Hudson from Ghostbusters) what the hell the company is up to. Ernie has tried to find out but has got nowhere, all he knows is that this has been planned for a long time by someone who doesn’t want to be seen, and that the phrase “The Blessing” is important. Yes, yes, more religious imagery. I suppose it’s a lot cheaper than CGI aliens.

Gwen and Rhys rescue her dad (eventually) before he’s incinerated at the Cowbridge camp, while Rex gets himself caught trying to escape the San Pedro camp and is almost rescued from creepy Colin Maloney by Esther. (She clearly hasn’t watched enough horror films – we all knew the ‘dead’ guy wasn’t dead, how come she didn’t work it out?) Luckily that nice soldier who got bullied into helping murder Dr Vera last week finally takes a stand and saves Esther and Rex.

The team expose the camps for what they are – hurrah for the internet – only to find it makes no difference. And Gwen, flies back to the US, and gets a mysterious instruction to use the Eye-5s. The messages blazing across the lenses are shocking (if not surprising considering nobody’s been using aliases – do not they never find time to watch Burn Notice?) – the Big Bad has Gwen’s mum, Rhys and Anwen (no mention of her dad though…). To get them back, she has to deliver Jack…

The noteworthy bits of The Middle Men:

  • People finding the closest thing to death they can – permanent unconsciousness from jumping from 45 storeys.
  • The CSI in-joke when Coltrane (the solidier) talks to Maloney (Marc Vann, formerly CSI’s Ecklie) about how “you see it on TV, they still find tiny little flecks of blood under your nails”.
  • The music in the bar where Jack recruits Janet to his cause is very reminiscent of the lovely Tenth Doctor’s theme music (that’s lovely music as well as lovely Number Ten).
  • Not to mention Jack’s “What do you say Janet? We could sit here drinking appletinis and complaining about men all night… or we could go get that Phicorp boss of yours.”
  • Jack’s hammy “Does your wife know?” as he ruins Stuart Owens’s evening (and probably his marriage).
  • Noteworthy for all the wrong reasons – Rex’s attempt to escape the camp. From the solidier knocked cold by one blow, to the dumb plan to send the sentry to the Modules, to the not taking note of the name stitched in inch-high letters on the front of the stolen uniform. Nonsense, nonsense, nonsense (hat tip to Adam and Joe).
  • Colin Maloney making a simple ballpoint pen incredibly sinister and giving a whole new meaning to ‘being a pen-pusher’.
  • More nonsense – Esther’s attempt to rescue Rex. From using Dr Juarez as the person making an important fictious phone call, to taking on a taller, heavier (and presumably stronger) man in an unarmed fight, to successfully choking him (she was a desk jockey not a field agent) – all too silly.
  • Gwen channelling Fi from Burn Notice and blowing up the modules at Cowbridge in style.
  • Gwen backing sharply away from her own reflection as the Big Bad make their demand clear. “Bring us Jack”
Having sat through six episodes, I’m determined to get to the end and find out what the hell is going on (and at least it looks like we might get some of Jack’s backstory next week – which should be more interesting), but I have to say I’m glad there’s only four more to go – I don’t think I could stand any more.

Posted by Jo the Hat

4 Comments

Filed under Drama

4 responses to “Torchwood: Miracle Day – In which this viewer loses the will to live

  1. Jen

    There are 4 left! Blimey. I’ve already lost the will to live.

    There’s no way online sudoku should be more attractive to me than a good BBC drama. Oh…. This isn’t a good drama. I get it now.

    I just don’t care about the characters. Except Jack. And there simply isn’t enough Jack. Boring.

  2. I thought some of it was quite entertaining, but it really is like watching a different show every week. This week was an action-adventure show, like a very bad rip-off of Burn Notice – although Fi would have definitely approved of how Gwen blew up Cowbridge (presumably just the Modules, as otherwise she’s just committed mass murder immediately after lecturing Dr Hollyoaks on working in a concentration camp), she wouldn’t have approved of her travelling back to LA under her real name, and I can’t see either Michael or Sam telling the camp commandant the real name of one of their crew and then urging him to take a look at the only video evidence they’ve managed to capture BEFORE establishing whether or not he was one of the good guys.

    I have to say, Ecklie (he’ll always be Ecklie to me) does creepily murderous very well – the bit where he was trying to persuade himself to stab Rex with the pen and crying was both pathetic and gooseflesh-inducing at the same time. But I think they could have been a bit less heavy-handed with the “Middle Men” thing – great though it was to see Ernie Hudson playing the charming devil with Jack, it really is a problem in a sci-fi drama if the most credible threat your heroes have faced so far is a homicidal bureaucrat who wasn’t even in the first four episodes.

    No Jilly or Oswald this week, and the programme suffered for it. I’ll keep watching, but the quality has been all over the shop this series.

  3. Tim

    Agree with Kate that the quality has been all over the place and that the show is trying too hard to ape other series from week to week, as a result of which it has now completely lost its identity. What’s next, 24-lite?

    After last week’s improvement, this was bordering on the dire for me. It’s not so much that nothing happened in the episode, it’s more that nothing of any consequence happened. Interesting though some of the supporting characters have been – Vera, Colin, er, the second plant pot from the left – I’m not THAT invested in them that I don’t get extremely annoyed when they’re tossed aside after a few episodes. We want more Oswald, basically.

    I’m still sticking by my long-held theory, which I won’t bore everyone by repeating yet again. And although I’m not giving up on this series, I can’t help but feel that all I really need to do for at least the next couple of weeks is to watch the last five minutes for the big shock ending, and dispense with the other 55 minutes.

    Still, nice to see Ernie Hudson. My advice to Jack: don’t cross the streams.

  4. Corumba Love

    Thanks again JtH.

    That “People finding the closest thing to death they can – permanent unconsciousness from jumping from 45 storeys” is yet another of those great little ideas that TW touches upon for a few seconds each episode and fails to explore. These notions are where the interest and real fun lie for me.

    Cerebral sci-fi is a powerful genre on page and screen and it’s such a pity that the potential of the Miracle Day posit is being almost entirely wasted. I’m reversing my suggestion of a couple of weeks ago: there’s an excellent novel to be written based on the MirDay theme. Perhaps by Margaret Attwood will oblige.

    As for this week: JtH, Jen, Kate & Tim – what y’all said, man.

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