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Review #2914: Torchwood: Miracle Day: Part 3: “Dead of Night”

Posted on the 24 July 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Gregg Wright

I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve been too forgiving of this new iteration of “Torchwood”. Until now, I was willing to give “Miracle Day” the benefit of the doubt. I’ve been trying really hard to like it and look past the negatives. I stick to my opinion that the previous episode was a slight improvement on the premiere, but this episode was more of a dramatic downturn in quality. I find it hard to believe that Jane Espenson wrote this episode, as it exemplifies so much of what’s wrong with this show.

Review #2914: Torchwood: Miracle Day: Part 3: “Dead of Night”

I’ve already briefly covered this in previous reviews, but it bears mentioning again. I think my biggest complaint relates to the really odd and off-putting tone of the show. Humor is to be expected in “Torchwood”. I don’t have a problem with that. But I do have a problem with the overt cheesiness. “Miracle Day” verges on farcical at times, having more in common with high-tech spy/thrillers than the sci-fi/drama blend of the original “Torchwood”. “Miracle Day” is trying its best to be “slick” and “cool” and it’s just failing miserably. And Murray Gold’s horrid scoring isn’t helping.

But what I really didn’t expect was such bad writing from Jane Espenson. There were moments which verged on solid characterization, but the majority of the episode consisted of terrible, cheesy dialogue. That opening scene serves as a good example. Gwen’s exaggerated persona isn’t quite as prominent as it was in the last two episodes, but it remains a problem. Much like has happened with Jack, Gwen is only vaguely like the Gwen I remember from the original show. It’s as if the writers watched a couple of clips and read up on Jack and Gwen in a fan wiki. And remember how annoying the America vs. UK jokes were in the last two episodes? Well, they’re back, and there’s ten times more of them than before.

Rex Matheson is becoming unbearable. I’ve tried to give the character a chance, hoping that he’d become more interesting as time went on. In the previous episode, I found him slightly more interesting in an antagonistic role. But that quickly faded, and now he’s back to being as one-dimensional as ever. A meager attempt is made to flesh out Esther a bit, but the resulting scene between her and Gwen is cringe-worthy. Russel T. Davies really wants me to think that Rex is “cool”, but that’s the last word I’d use to describe the character. Oswald Danes remains the most interesting new character, mostly thanks to Bill Pullman’s acting, though I think the apparent reveal of his lack of remorse robs the character of his complexity.

I’d like to make clear that I have no problem with sex scenes, gay or otherwise. Jack’s poly-sexuality is part of the appeal of the character, for me. But unfortunately, it really does feel like they threw in those two sex scenes just to fulfill some kind of quota. This seems to be a common problem in premium network TV shows. “Game of Thrones” attracted its share of controversy for its graphic sex scenes. And I’ll admit, it was something of a weakness of that show, but it wasn’t enough to detract from the overall excellent quality of the show. At the very least, the scenes served to draw me further into the world of “Game of Thrones”. As for “Miracle Day”, there’s really not a lot I can say in defense of its sex scenes. One could argue that Jack’s scene is a part of that character’s development, given that his sudden need to get a bit wild is a result of his newly mortal status. But I think that that’s a weak excuse. It still feels a bit ridiculous that Jack would act like this in the middle of a major worldwide crisis that’s getting progressively worse, virtually by the minute.

I’ve been reluctant to use this term until now, but the accusations of “Americanization” are becoming hard to ignore. “Miracle Day” doesn’t feel like an American show. It feels like a British show that’s trying to channel styles and sensibilities of American TV. I ask, what is the point? After all, “Torchwood” was brought to America in large part because of the sizable fanbase that developed here for the original show. I was fine with some stylistic changes. I didn’t need “Miracle Day” to feel exactly like original “Torchwood”. But the changes aren’t working. Much of what was appealing about “Torchwood” seems to have been lost.

Rating: 5/10

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