So here we are. Series 4 of Torchwood. When I started watching it right from the beginning I had no idea it would have lasted this long, but thank god it went from strength to strength to strength. I made it my mission to try and watch all the previous episodes and listen to the radio shows before the new series started. But I didn’t manage it. I got up to series 2, epsisode 8 A Day in the Death and then this episode arrived and I couldn’t resist. I’ll get around to posting my thoughts about my re-evaluation of the previous series-es, but let’s kick off with the first episode of the brand spanking new shiny American version of Torchwood, The New World.
As with Children of Earth, this series will have a complete arc through the whole story and while this worked with Children of Earth we shall see if it can work with Miracle Day. Children of Earth worked over 5 episodes; Miracle Day has 10 to unwind. I’m sure there will be the odd episode that we could easily do without as you frequently had in 24.
Right from the off this is as American as Torchwood can get. The sets are bigger, the cameras glide on bigger train tracks and the actors have nice teeth. And what an opening, kiddie fiddler and murderer Oswald Danes (Bill Pullman) gets a lethal injection giving that gives him a ton of pain, but no death. The credits are also a lot slicker and subtle and make you realise that you don’t need all that beating over the head flashy loud techno credits we’ve had previously. This is much more effective. Classier in fact.
It’s certainly an ambitious show. In fact it’s a little ambitious beyond its budget. Some of the CGI explosions were far from perfect and the flames coming out of the helicopter left a lot to be desired. But it was still amazing to see sexy Gwen blow up said helicopter with a bazooka. Also didn’t that Welsh beach look amazing during the chase with the jeep? The last time I was on a beach in Wales it was windy and dog barked at me.
I’ll be honest I had to watch it a second time because I kept getting lost in it almost being another program. I was worried that Americanising it so much would make the UK scenes and actors seem a bit naff, but it holds up really well. PC Andy (well sergeant now) and the Welsh police looked extra cool, especially as there’s a bigger gang of them and not 2 or 3 because of previous budget restraints. Also was it me, or did Captain Jack sound positively British the first time he spoke, compared to the American actors?
Bill Pullman as the nonce Oswald Danes is a great (if a little pantomime) villain. But we see from the trailer that he’s going to be some kind of sinful messiah, which is exactly the kind of stuff I love and why I’m still waiting for the movie version of Chuck Palahniuk’s novel Survivor. But enough of my Wacoesque fetish, I’m just looking forward to seeing how the paedo manipulator mesmerises the gullible masses through some pseudo religion.
However the one flaw so far is CIA agent Rex Matheson (Mekhi Phifer). His guzzling of pills, sweating, out of breath grunts, hobbling around on crutches and barking his dialogue like balloons being popped were laughable to say the least. Perhaps he’ll pick up as the series goes along, till then, anyone else smell bacon?
All in all it was great fun and quite silly, but I really enjoyed the story as well. In a way you could treat this as a pilot for a reboot, like the way Star Trek TNG was introduced. It had everything to do with the previous show, but this is a new beginning. So if you take into account it’s a pilot then its bloody well executed. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds and as long as it keeps me gripped and intrigued the way it did in Children of Earth it can be as silly and action packed as it wants to be. Oh and top grossness marks for the Torchwood suicide bomber still alive and then having Captain Jack suggest he have his head cut off. Excellent stuff.
8 out of 10