Sunday, 17 July 2011

TV Snark - Torchwood: Miracle Day Episode One

Torchwood is back! This time they're funded by American TV network, Starz. RTD is back on scripting duties for the first episode and the surviving members of the original Torchwood cast return. Everything is in place for more fun and frolics with the world's most inept secret organisation, let's go!

The episode begins with a news report about the impending execution of Bill Pullman's 'edgy' character, Oswald Danes (you may remember Bill as the president in Independence Day or as a nice guy in every film he's in). Danes is going to be executed because he's a paedophile and a child murderer, and an unrepentant one at that. Unfortunately my sense of immersion is already ruined because this opening news segment reminds me of the 'Chapman Baxter' execution segments on The Day Today.


Ahem. Anyway, Danes is laid out Jesus-like (SYMBOLISM) with his arms outstretched while lethal injections are administered. He screams and convulses as the poison courses through his veins and continues to do so until the executioners come in and stop the show. Apparently the execution didn't take...

Next up is a scene that mentions 'Torchwood' eight times in the span of just over a minute. It's like the scene in Being John Malkovich  where the eponymous actor goes into his own head and the dialogue is, "Malkovich, Malkovich." "Malkovich?" "Malkovich." Seriously guys, we know the name of the show.

During this Torchwood, Torchwood, Torchwood scene we meet Meki Phifer's character, CIA agent Rex Matheson. Rex is a douchebag because he's glad that one of his fellow CIA agents has a wife with leukemia. That means Rex gets promoted! Before Rex can celebrate too much, he is impaled by some metal rods that fall off a back of a truck (just like in The Descent). What a shame.

Rex was talking to another character, Esther Drummond. She has Torchwood pop-ups and viruses all over her laptop, which triggers the Torchwood discussion with Rex over the phone. The call is terminated when Rex is terminated. Esther is also American, blonde, attractive and in no way resembles a CIA intelligence analyst.

Gwen wakes up from a nightmare, says Torchwood again and then the titles roll. No, the theme music hasn't changed.

After the titles, Rex is taken into hospital and meets Dr Juarez. Then we're off to Craggy Island Parochial House...

Gwen is living with her husband Rhys and baby Anwyn in rural Wales. Gwen is now paranoid about visitors and glares at a passing helicopter and then nearly shoots some ramblers. Gwen has a house full of guns because she's so paranoid. The ramblers walk away but give each other a conspiratorial look. Evil ramblers.

CIA agent Drummond visits Rex in the emergency ward and meets Dr Juarez. Dr Juarez rather conveniently tells Drummond and the audience all about the rash of non-deaths in the last 24 hours. No-one on Earth has died, despite wounds or diseases. We then cut to some really poorly produced fake news shots talking about the global undying epidemic. The newsreaders dub it 'Miracle Day' (which they repeat several times in case you're hard of hearing).

There is then a completely nonsensical argument between Paedo Bill Pullman and a government official. Danes basically talks crap at this guy until he gives up and basically says, "Okay, you can go free now because we didn't kill you." Danes promises to sue the government for 'cruel and unusual punishment' and for keeping him against his will. I am pretty sure this is not how the US legal system works, guys. He's a self confessed murderer, the fact that he didn't die at his execution doesn't magically make him innocent of that crime (even if you do invoke Act of God). This scene makes no sense. But hey, it has to happen or we can't have some mad, sensationalist, 'paedophile takes over America' subplot. Sigh.

Rex wakes up in hospital and watches some poorly acted news clips. He is in great pain but no-one offers him painkillers. Dr Juarez explains that he didn't die, blah, blah, yeah we know.

Let's go back to Craggy Island where Gwen and Rhys are decorating. The fun is interrupted by the special Torchwood mobile phone that Gwen keeps tucked away. It's a call from PC Andy. Yay! My favourite tertiary character in the Torchwood franchise. He arranges to meet Gwen in Cardiff as it seems her dad is ill.

Drummond visits a government records building in an attempt to find more information on Torchwood. Apparently having Torchwood pop up on her computer once has caused her to go and hunt it down despite her friend being in hospital and a strange worldwide epidemic. She opens a lot of boxes. It's a bit dull. It's supposed to be exciting but it's not because Torchwood don't have any exciting secrets. She then bumps into Captain Jack. Then a black ops guy appears and gets shot by Jack. It seems to be a black ops team of one.

Black ops man won't tell Jack anything and reveals he is wearing an explosive vest, which he shortly detonates (after giving Jack enough time to grab Drummond and dive out of a window). KABOOM. Jack and Drummond land in a convenient fountain and he introduces himself. Jack then tells Drummond all about Torchwood, blah, blah, blah, UK agency, inept, blah, blah. Jack has hurt his arm which means he can die now. Possibly. Jack explains he released malware to remove all traces of Torchwood from Wikipedia (it wasn't very good as it caused Drummond to investigate him in the first place). Jack then uses the retcon drug on Drummond to make her forget all of this happened.

Jack then attends the autopsy/freak show of the blacks ops guy who blew himself up (he uses Owen Harper FBI as an alias). Black ops guy is in bits but still alive, his head is attached to his mutilated torso by a string of muscles. Jack suggests that the doctors cut his head off to see what happens. The doctors then just shrug and do as he says because they wanted to test the zombie theory too, I guess. The black ops guy is still alive as just a head. Eew.

Back in Cardiff (where no-one uses a Cardiff accent) Gwen & Rhys meet up with PC Andy where he tells them all about Miracle Day. Gwen's dad had a heart attack but didn't die. There's then a lot of talking in exaggerated Welsh accents. It's almost as if they deliberately made the accents as alien and indecipherable to the American audience as possible. It's like The Green Death all over again. Gwen and PC Andy do some research on Wikipedia (literally, they look up Earth on Wikipedia). The Earth will soon run out of food if people don't start dying soon.

Rhys and Gwen argue about Torchwood. Rhys demands that Gwen not investigate because the shadowy people who are out for Torchwood (whoever they are) will be looking for her. Gwen agrees not to investigate and decides to go back to Craggy Island.

Drummond wakes up in her apartment after being retconned by Jack. She notices she has mysterious bruises on her body and she can't remember what happened the night before. She does not report this to anyone, out of fear, embarrassment, or maybe because it's a regular occurrence for Drummond to get black out drunk? She rolls into work late where she receives a call from Rex. She mentions Torchwood to Rex as it seems she still has the files on Torchwood. Rex now wants to investigate Torchwood after he discovers that the last death on Earth occurred at the same time as the Torchwood pop-ups appeared on the CIA's computers (he also has to explain how timezones work to Drummond WHO IS AN INTELLIGENCE ANALYST).

Rex pratfalls his way out of hospital as he decides to go to Wales to investigate Gwen Cooper. He demands a handgun via Requisition 15 (a UK order from the last series of Torchwood, purely in as a geeky continuity reference as it makes no sense for Rex to know this). Rex stops to berate his Spanish maid and then gets on a plane. Rex arrives in England, gets a handgun from a helpful bobby (what?!) and learns that he has to cross the Severn Bridge to enter Wales and he has to pay for it. Haha. Wales is another country to England. Haha. Yes.

Rex blunders his way to Craggy Island (Drummond does all the work as she uses 24 style computer trickery to locate Gwen's house). Rex knocks on the door and is soon knocked out by Gwen and tied up by Rhys. Rex escapes in about three seconds as Rhys can't tie knots. Then a helicopter turns up and fires a missile through the house, missing everyone and flying out of a back window. The inept assassins are then shot at by Gwen thenJackturnsupinajeepandtheydriveoffandGwenfiresabazookaandblowsupthehelicopter. KABOOOOM. "Wales is crazy!" yells Rex. No. No it really isn't, Rex. Then the police turn up and extradite them to America because the CIA control the UK now, apparently. Yeah.

Then a trailer starts with, "This Season". What? Season? Splutter!

COMING SOON: The trailer goes on forever but at least Wayne Knight is in an episode.

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