Torchwood: Miracle Day: The Categories of Life

Posted on August 06, 2011

We have to laugh.

We realize we shouldn’t be laughing about the grimmest episode yet, ending with the (it was bound to happen eventually) gruesome death of a Torchwood team member, but we can’t help it. Sometimes, the silliness of the conceits we’re supposed to accept in this story overwhelm us and even as we’re watching scenes of human beings being incinerated, we’re stuck rolling our eyes and smirking.

Lorenzo doesn’t watch Doctor Who. Well, technically he does watch the show, but only passively, out of the corner of his eye because Tom’s hogging the TV. He doesn’t really know the names of any of the companions (Rose: “the trashy one,” Martha: “the fabulous one,” Donna: “the funny one”) and watched only enough of the three latter doctors to declare Matt Smith a genius and David Tennant irritating. He knows just enough about the show to marvel at the malleability of the concept behind it (his words after the S6.2 trailer aired “Man, you really can go anywhere and do anything with this show.”) and to know that such flexibility in concept means wildly different episodes that can range from pure camp to disturbing suspense. He just saw two different episodes from Torchwood showrunner Russell Davies’ last regular season with the franchise and during the occasionally disturbing psych horror of “Midnight,” he muttered “Wow, this show can get really dark,” but earlier in the week, the first time he saw a Sontaran without his helmet on, he burst into uproarious laughter and exclaimed “I canNOT take this show seriously!” to which Tom replied, “Oh, you’re not supposed to! Well. At least not this time…”

And that’s one of the problems with Torchwood. It’s not that you can’t do a dark story with light touches, but sometimes it feels like we’re watching entirely different stories; even worse, sometimes that feeling happens within the same episode. If we absolutely had to, we might be able to accept a character like Oswald Danes and his rise to significance (as well as the not-so-late-or-lamented Sarah Palin pastiche, or the caricaturistic Jilly Kitzinger) if it was occurring in a more over-the-top kind of show. But when you have silly characters, paste them into stories with helicopter explosions and chase scenes, and then suddenly bring human concentration camps into the picture and expect us all to nod gravely and marvel at the darkness of the storytelling and the Serious Questions it raises, well… that’s expecting too much from us. As wildly anarchic as the storytelling world of Doctor Who can get, they mostly avoid heavy-handed holocaust reminders and that fictional world was mostly populated with people who had somewhat normal or expected reactions to events.

But really, our complaints about the inconsistent tone of the show are merely quibbles in comparison to the problems we have with the basic story. We’re tired of repeating ourselves but virtually everything that has happened so far in this series doesn’t ring true to us in any real way. We hate to make this nerdy connection, but looking at Gwen’s baby (and it was nice to see Swansea), we can see not much time has passed since the series started, otherwise we’d be looking at a much older baby. The story vaguely supports this. Even though no real mention of the time passed has been made, the general sense is that it’s been no more than a month or so since Miracle Day. Back in the first episode, when it was hypothesized that the world would be looking at societal collapse in 4 months, we pointed out the absurdity of that statement.  It seems like the cynicism of the writers got the better of them, because we’re now supposed to accept radical shifts in policy and culture in a mere 4 weeks.

We might accept the idea of an Oswald Danes reaching some sort of prominence in this world, but not until things got really bad and life as we know it changed drastically. That shouldn’t have happened yet. The fact of the matter is, a month of people not dying isn’t going to lead to radical changes in medicine and government, as well as a legal redefinition of life being agreed-upon (worldwide, no less) and policies to that effect being enacted. A month of people not dying means a net population gain of about 5 million people worldwide. The population of a medium-sized city – but spread out all over the world – is simply not going to cause the kind of strain to “the system” all the characters are gravely warning about.  In other words, absolutely nothing having to do with the overflow camps or the healthcare system, or Oswald Danes or the “Dead is Dead” movement make any sense whatsoever if you’re applying standards of normal human behavior (and simple math) to any of the people in this world.

And the longer this story goes on and all the characters proclaim the impending societal collapse, we get more and more annoyed with the absence of one topic; the one topic that would not only make sense from a policy perspective, but would make sense if you want to tell a story that satirizes or comments upon American culture and politics: abortion. If there’s such a horrifying rise in population happening every day, why isn’t anyone talking about stopping population growth completely by outlawing birth instead of trying to come up with unworkable definitions of life and death? Wouldn’t it make more sense for the governments of the world to force all pregnancies to terminate, thereby stopping the population from growing at all? A horrifying concept, to be sure, but infinitely more interesting than shoving ovens and concentrations camps at us.

Having done all that bitching, we’ll say that the episode was mostly pretty enjoyable and tense (it was the ovens that ruined it for us) and Vera’s death was appropriately horrifying and should make for some nice team motivations later on. Loved seeing Gwen in action in a less-warm, less-sunny, less-American location, but this brings us to why we were laughing a bit. Watching Vera force her way into a mission when she wasn’t trained and somewhat stupidly make escalating threats to a man who clearly has little in the way of morals while at the same time watching Gwen blunder her way into a camp, somewhat unbelievably stumble across her father, and then force him to try and escape, resulting in a second heart attack and a ticket to the ovens, we just shook our heads. “That’s Torchwood.” In other words, this team has a history of being bumbling idiots, over and over again.

Also that evil camp administrator was such a poorly written and poorly acted character that it took us right out of the story. He couldn’t just be an amoral bureaucrat; he had to be sexist in a totally 1980 way (“You’re a woman, who’s a doctor?!? And you’re pretty!”) and all-around silly. There are so many interesting ways this character could have been presented, but the sneering and the leering was straight out of Saturday morning cartoons.

And in a way, we really wish the show would stick with Saturday morning cartoon stories with lots of action and heroics. It’s not that we don’t appreciate nuanced stories that tell dark things about the human condition, but the longer this series goes on, the more we think it’s not the right place for it and the creators don’t know how to do it. Which is odd, because Children of Earth swam in those waters and was all the better for it. We suspect the attempts to comment on American culture are what’s making this story so hard to take and less believable with each week. Yes, we totally get the observation that everything in America is bigger, louder, and faster; that to the rest of the developed world our political and healthcare systems seem byzantine and unworkable; bought and paid for by corporations, resulting in the political process collapsing and the rise of demagogues and cults preying on the public’s fears. All of that would make for great themes to explore in a speculative fiction story, but we just don’t buy that the whole country will drive off a cliff in a month.

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  • http://twitter.com/Cakewalk_Queen Lauren Cooper

    Ok, Tom, Martha was not fabulous. She was lovesick and wined all the time that the Doctor didn’t have feelings for her. That is all. I don’t watch Torchwood as Russel T. Davies grates on my nerves.

    • http://smalldog.wordpress.com/ Small Dog

      Ditto on Martha, and I quite liked Donna, she had gumption.  And yes, TLo, Matt Smith is a genius.

      • MilaXX

        I adored Donna.Donna was awesome and smarter than she allowed herself to believe.

        • http://www.tomandorenzo.com Tom and Lorenzo

          For all their attempts to make me do so, I didn’t shed a tear when Rose or Martha left, but I’m not ashamed to admit that I wept like a little girl when Donna left. I’m just happy Lorenzo was in bed at the time or I’d never hear the end of it.  ~T

          • MilaXX

            Oh I bawled like a baby when Donna left. I was just happy when Martha left and cheered when Rose was gone.

          • Anonymous

            Yep! Poor Martha was getting so much stick. And the way RTD kept bringing Rose back made me dislike the character even more.

          • http://twitter.com/applecocola Stacy

            Really? I loved when the Doctor and Rose were finally reunited, but I do agree the way that they kept “subtly” leading up to the reunion was rather annoying. I hated Martha with a passion, she was supposed to be strong, but she was so whiny and being lovesick with the Doctor. Donna is the still the best companion. Gingers are the best.

            Rose was much stronger than Martha was. However, she was also more selfish than Martha.Donna also had the saddest ending. Rose’s ending was sad… until they brought her back. That kind of undermined the tragedy of her story. Also, I love David Tennant! Matt does make a better Doctor, but David had this beautiful smile.

          • http://twitter.com/Gothama1 Liz H.

            Agreed.  That Donna ending was just so tragic.  Donna reverting back to her former self and losing the awesome smart and awesome companion she had become had me in tears too.  Rose got her happily ever after so no tears for her!

          • http://twitter.com/lbcubbison Laurie Cubbison

            What was so tragic was the way Donna left: for her to lose all her memories of awesomeness. Given all the self-esteem issues women end up with and that Donna expressed about herself (“just a temp”), it really hurt to see that awesomeness taken away from her. When Martha left, it was a positive step, owning her life. Rose always seemed a bit entitled and so irritated me, so I wasn’t sad to see her go.

          • Anonymous

            I still get a knot in my stomach when I think about what happened to Donna. She was the best.

          • ArKane Fyre

            I saw a rerun the other day of when Donna left, and I still bawled. I adored that woman – she made Davind Tennant a lot more fun and a lot less irritating like when he was with Rose.

        • Anonymous

          I hated her at first, because I don’t really like Catherine Tate and it was too easy to just see her as one of her comedy characters. But she grew on me and by the end of her run I really did not want her to go. 

    • MilaXX

      I cannot stand Rose. If anyone she was the lovesick one. Martha at least had the good sense to realize her feelings were not being returned and get out. Martha showed growth from her travels with the Doctor and Rose ended up still being the same trashy shop girl she started as.

      • Toto Maya

        I couldn’t stand Rose either. She was just some super speshul woman who the Doctor loved unconditionally for no apparent reason, she was needy, everything was about her… and they just kept bringing her back, over and over and over.

        • Anonymous

          Rose grew on me.  And I loved her mother.  But the DoctorDonna was the best. 

        • MilaXX

          Yes! I was like get back in your parallel world and stay put.

    • Toto Maya

      I liked Martha when she wasn’t whining. Donna was the best though.

  • http://twitter.com/pinkraygun Lisa

    I’m so glad someone else also considers Rose “the trashy one”.

  • Anonymous

    Again, I haven’t seen this episode yet and won’t until Thursday. But there have been many works of fiction and documentaries exploring just how quickly the world would go off the cliff after a major incident. Whether oil supplies cutting off in Alex Scarrows Last Light, an epidemic in TV’s Survivors (either 70s or recent version), monsters and blindness in Day of the Triffids etc. As soon as food supplies are a problem, and fuel runs short (and it doesn’t take much), panic sets in. Then crime increases and so on into rapid chaos. A side that I don’t think they’ve explored enough in Torchwood (again speaking as someone a week behind you guys), I’d say it’s all been a bit too calm on the streets.  The general strain on the infrastructure (not just medical) in any country would escalate at warp speed! 

    And Tennant irritating! Sacrilege! :D

  • Anonymous

    Thank you, Lorenzo, for being someone else on the internet who doesn’t like David Tennant! I can’t really watch any of his episodes without having an urge to throttle his terrible overacting camp (and I love me some overacting camp) right off his face.

    I wish Eccleston hadn’t had creative differences with the production/creators. He’ll always be my Doctor. 

    • Anonymous

      I’m old, Tom Baker will always be mine :) But I did like Tennant. The Doctor should be over the top, and much as I liked Eccleston, he was a bit too…down to earth.

      • Anonymous

        I had never watched any Dr. Who prior to that reboot season, and was drug into by friends who have been lifelong Who fans – one of which is an insane fan of the second Doctor – and I really loved that first season with Eccleston. And then he was gone and Tennant was there and he just did nothing for me, and then I had to deal with every acquaintance of mine insisting he is the second coming of Jesus Christ in Dr. Who form, and it just really turned me off of him and the series. I may still give the Matt Smith episodes a try

        • Anonymous

          You should, he’s good, and different again. It took me a while to warm to him because I did think he was just too young, but I’ve got used to him and I like him a lot. But I went back and watched the Silence in the Library episode to refresh my memory on a few things and I still prefer Tennant. 
          Second coming! LOL! Doctor Who has always been decidedly non-religious :)

        • MilaXX

          Please do! I love Matt and like how he nods to the older Doctor’s in his mannerisms and dress.

        • MilaXX

          I liked Ten, but Matt is more of a Doctor. Ten became this sort of weird sex symbol Doctor. I think it’s one of the reason why I love Donna more. She wasn’t attracted to him in the least.

          • http://twitter.com/delorfinde Delorfinde Telcontar

            Yeah, I like Donna for that – she only wanted a friend. And I loved the Doctor with her. “I am Spartacus!” “And so am I!” “Mr and Mrs Spartacus?” “Oh no, we’re not married.”

        • Anonymous

          I fell in love with Eccleston from the first episode and was devestated when he left. Couldn’t stand David Tennant at first but grew to really like him by the end. Never was able to understand his accent. Thank god for dvr.
          Matt Smith is a genius.

      • MilaXX

        Baker was my first, but I do adore Matt.

    • Toto Maya

      I always feel like a newb for saying this, but Matt Smith is my Doctor, despite watching so many of them. He is just perfect for me, finally hitting the right balance between serious and hilarious, completely batshit insane. David Tennant was okay, but he could really only be excited, any other emotion didn’t work for him. I liked Eccleston too, but I prefer Smith.

    • Anonymous

      Hallelujah. I get really tired of people insisting that Tennant was so great. His overacting was frequently embarrassing to watch and ruined a lot of stories for me.

      Smith is fantastic – and I was hugely skeptical at first due to his age. But he’s been brilliant. I’ve been watching since I was a kid and Davison was my Doctor.

  • Anonymous

    There’s preposterous and then there’s Torchwood. Every single thing you’ve said is correct [except that David Tennant is irritating :/ ]. Anywho, last evening I thought why didn’t they just go camp all the way, kind of like an Airplane movie. I talk back to the TV with this show even more than I do with ProjRun, so that’s saying something. Mostly, anymore, it’s just AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!!!  Thanks for sticking with it, Sepinwall has bailed.

  • http://www.twitter.com/androiddreamer Matt Heckler

    As an American, I think you’re seriously underestimating how insane and reactionary Americans are. I don’t think Miracle Day’s writing is that far off from how we would react, but that being said, neither you nor I have any idea how it would be. It’s such a huge thing that it’s pretty much ridiculous to act like we know how things would go in a situation as drastically life-altering situation like what is being portrayed here. It’s kind of weird that anyone would presume to know. I don’t buy your explanation, frankly, but fair enough that you think the way you do– but human history leads me to lean more towards the Torchwood writer’s cynical view of things.

    • http://www.tomandorenzo.com Tom and Lorenzo

      Human history argues rather strenuously against worldwide social and political collapse in a month’s time.

      • Anonymous

        But the whole point of science fiction is to propose events that are beyond the scope of human history. Also, the western world is far more dependent on goods and services than it ever has been in the past. And to add to that, cities are larger and more prone to violence. The last worldwide catastrophe was WWII and the world was a very, very different place then.

        It isn’t just the population increase; people would be staying off work to care for people so companies would go under, those with non-’fatal’ illnesses wouldn’t be able to access treatment, idiots with guns would get gung-ho because they couldn’t be killed or have any conscience about ‘killing’ others. Food and fuel and drugs would run short, so there would be robbery and looting. It would escalate and fast. Just look at the panic that springs up over a strain of flu!

        • http://www.tomandorenzo.com Tom and Lorenzo

          Again, it’s the “one month” aspect of it that we don’t buy. Panic and collapse, yes. But not worldwide death camps in a month’s – or even a few months’ -  time. Science fiction shows us amazing and fantastical events, but the very best of the genre is rooted in human emotions and reactions that are recognizable. “Nobody dies” is a great beginning; “Nobody dies and the result is worldwide incineration camps in a month or two” is asking too much of us.

          • http://twitter.com/MandySCG MandyJane

            I agree. I’d much prefer a more intelligent and well thought out depiction of the eventual collapse of society.

          • Anonymous

            Inside one month I doubt it would even be considered a crisis. People would still be thrilled at the thought of living forever. The downside wouldn’t even have occurred to most people yet.

          • Anonymous

            I think part of why it seemed to come out of the blue so quickly is that we’re getting very little idea of what kind of decline is actually taking place to lead up to these changes. There was some setup with “this is how long x will take to happen” but we’re not *seeing* anything as it’s been happening. The other is, as you said, is the 100% unlikelihood of the entire world coming to agreement on anything within a month, a year, or ever.

            What bothers me more than all of that, is still Oswald Danes. I just don’t buy it! It’s a shame because Pullman, who I normally find unbearably dull, is doing a great job with the role. But it fails to have any impact because that whole storyline is so preposterous. If only he hadn’t been a pedophile, his character could be redeemed, but sorry RTD, even us amoral Americans draw. the. damn. line. at child rapists and child-killers. If they wanted the horror element of kids to factor in, they should have made him a school shooter (and even that would be pushing it).

            Also, since when is Jack gay and so subdued around the chicks? Come on, he’s supposed to be the biggest slut in the Universe, hitting on anything and everything. It’s part of the fun of his character. Then again, Torchwood Jack has never been as fun as Doctor Who Jack.

          • http://twitter.com/chelwi Christine

            If Phicorp has a stockpile of drugs, then why wouldn’t they already have these overflow camps ready to go? A month or two might seem like a short time to make the decision, but if the government is starting to panic and someone steps up with a solution all ready to go (and ready to take the blame for it when it blows up), then I think the governments would be willing to agree to it quickly.

            I really enjoyed the scenes in COE where we got to see the British government talking out these decisions. Yeah, they were dark, but it really made it more believable that they could give in so quickly to the demands and be ready to go with the children in about a day. If it had been portrayed the same way the govenments’ decisions are being portrayed in MD (the viewer on the outside just being relayed the information through the news and kept somewhat in the dark), then the show would have seemed just as ridiculous as MD.

    • Anonymous

      How true, Matt.  If you live in America today or noticed what just happened in Washington you can see just how corrupt government is and how anything is possible. Imagine someone explaining this debt ceiling scenario to you a few years ago. 
      In the Miracle Day world, PHICORP had been planning for the Miracle for a long time. Of course it would progress this quickly…THEY PLANNED IT TO HAPPEN THAT WAY. 

      I was glad that when we saw Vera locked in that module it was quickly realized that Rex wasn’t going to find a way to save her. The dialog that got her shot and dumped there was stupid…anyone with half a brain would have at least tried to play it cool and get the info back to Torchwood. She’s an ER doctor, shouldn’t she be able to see a bigger picture?? But, I suppose, the idea was that she just walked into the team and she was incredibly unqualified to go undercover. 
      There are plenty of issues you can have with this show, but I think Tom and Lorenzo are just quietly (or maybe not so quietly) telling you they they prefer Steven Moffat. Yawn.

    • Anonymous

      As an American I think the biggest hole in the storytelling is the complete absence of religion in the plotline. I really believe this is a major blindspot for the writers. The United States is much more religious than any European country, probably because of the absence of a state-run church. The Great Awakening that would spring out of events like this would just dwarf the 19th century one – it would make the Burned Over District of upstate New York of the 1830′s look like a charred matchstick.

  • http://twitter.com/bentley1530 F E B

    Birth control was raised in the second or third episode.  Some countries are putting meds it in the water.  And if miscarriages are no longer leading to the death of babies I am not sure that abortions would work either.  And given how easily people are swept up in made up emergencies  (Did you watch the video of any of the “death panel” town halls?) I am not convinced the world would not be ready for drastic measures a month after the miracle.

  • MilaXX

    I think at think point it takes a Torchwood fan to continue watching because the sow is uneven at best and RTD deem incapable of subtlety in any way. I’m in it until the end, but I have to say I am far more excited abut the second half of series 6 of Doctor Who returning.

    • Anonymous

      Yay… not long now.
      I think if you grew up on egg-whisk and sink plunger Daleks, shaky sets and everything happening in the same quarry then you’re prepared to suspend reality a bit more when it comes to the DW family :) You’re right, RTD doesn’t do subtlety… but as long as I’m not expected to believe a slatted blind on a window is a crackly alien message on a screen (Pertwee days) then I’ll go along with it LOL!

  • http://twitter.com/jennawaterford Jenna Waterford

    These are the same problems I had with Children of Earth, though. No one behaved in a remotely-believable way to the dangers at hand, including Jack! RTD seems to have a cynical streak about human nature that defies actual evidence about how human beings react to disastrous situations. Sure, some fall apart or are selfish and amoral, but it is never this science-fictional trope of immediate, utter collapse into Lord of the Flies (Katrina included as that was a series of systemic failures leading to chaos rather than people just freaking the hell out at the first sign of trouble — even so, it’s notable because it is such an exception to how danger/disaster response  ordinarily unfolds).

    • Anonymous

      The difference being I suppose that in any other disaster there’s someone to help out and send aid, be it another town, city or country. If it’s global then there’s nobody.

      • http://twitter.com/jennawaterford Jenna Waterford

        RTD writes as if he believes that nearly everyone will react to bad situations in the most selfish, cowardly way possible which no matter the circumstances is just not true.

  • Toto Maya

    It’s probably silly for me to comment here, because I only saw the first episode of this series and decided not to watch. I’m guessing the problem is I am a Doctor Who fan, and never watched the original Torchwood. So my vision of Captain Jack comes from Doctor Who, where he is campy and hilarious and awesome. So I sat down for Miracle Day only to find a Jack that was completely, well, dead inside. Nothing interesting, he just sat there and gave exposition. I understand that you need to for a new show, but it was like all the life had been sucked out of him (which I suppose is an actual plot point). I thought that these posts might change my mind as I am a huge TLO fan, but I think it’s just confirming my original opinion. Too bad.

    • Anonymous

      I think you are making an excellent point, in this series Jack is under utilized and sometimes even phoning it in.
      So my vision of Captain Jack comes from Doctor Who, where he is campy
      and hilarious and awesome. So I sat down for Miracle Day only to find a
      Jack that was completely, well, dead inside
      Apparently he is still reeling from the events in CoE, which had more than one personal component for him which, [I'm trying not to give spoilers here, for anyone who may still want to watch that series,] seems to have made him a changed man in a lot of ways, more subdued, more likely to make mistakes. But I too miss that original Jack.

      I think that it’s possible this season has jumped the shark.

      • MilaXX

        I get where they are trying to go with Jack, it doesn’t really work here. Using for example the moment he met with Oswald and the writers seemingly want it to appear that he is somehow relating to him because he believes deep down inside Oswald wants to die as much as him just doesn’t make sense. It’s still apples and oranges.  I just want TW to decide if it’s campy TW of series 1 & 2 or serious CoE TW. WHat we have know is some crazy mish mash.

  • http://twitter.com/lbcubbison Laurie Cubbison

    I still think the problem is that Davies wants to tell these big “what if” stories but  executives will only let him in the context of an existing program, so we keep ending up with this awkward mashup of camp, comic adventure, and political thriller that doesn’t work.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/Space_Kitty Space Kitty

    Fucking Torchwood.

    It’s just compelling enough that I can’t turn it off for being insufferably stupid.  It’s not too much to expect that characters behave in believable ways even in science fiction stories.  Character development has always been a major issue with the series (…Owen & Tosh) but I’ve been willing to stick with it because there have been moments of true, haunting beauty that genuinely speak to the human experience.

    Then there’s jackassery like the antidote nonsense on the plane, and asking us to believe that Americans would accept a convicted murder and pedophile as some kind of hero. Really? Have the writers been to the states?  If it’s some kind of satirical comment on current society in the US, then I’ve missed the point.  Somehow I doubt it is because all their other social commentary has been so heavy handed this season.  It would take more than world collapse for the Oswald scenario to ring true.

    Yet, still I watch.  I hope it turns out to be worth it!

  • http://twitter.com/RedFlint Phil Dando

    Hmm, I broadly agree. The concept the whole world would fall apart in 4 months is plainly bonkers.

    But the healthcare system? I’d give that a weekend! Think how busy an A&E dept is on a Friday night. Now imagine that every car accident, every mugging, every gunshot victim out there doesn’t go to the morgue, but goes to A&E. Every single one because not one of them dies.

    So you’ve got people, still breathing, still alive, but taking up a bed, a doctor/nurse’s time and eating food and consuming drugs? Where do you put them? Intensive Care? The Corridor? The basement?

    I would think an empty hospital, fully staffed wouldn’t last two weeks before running into problems. A fully operational one? The cynic in me gives it two days.

    • Anonymous

      Anyone who’s been in the hospital or had to go to an emergency room in a largish city will agree.

      • Anonymous

        not sure i agree about A &E .I have worked in A & e in UK and the deaths  are not that excessive-there are 20000 deaths and 2000 births  a day in UK -so that means 2000 people will not die a day –there are more than 2000 hospitals -so that is less than one death per hospital–or 60,000 non deaths a month0i can tell you now there are emergency plans in place to manage pandemics which include evacuation of patients to care faciities and home treatments–so  the issues we are seeing would not occur for some time–well not in the UK-not to mention the plans in place to call in all availible healthcare workers-cannnot speak for usa

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IL4DCTPZSZV46P3FEPARVROBJM All About Paws

      Yep, add to that exponential increases in people who are contagious, but refuse to die… maybe it doesn’t matter if everyone in the world has cholera if it’s not fatal – but maybe it does… add to that people still feel pain (thank you Phicor), but don’t die – so the drug industry would quickly go crazy.  I’m not sure it’d all happen quite as fast as they show – and the concentration camps might be one step too far… but overall I’m not sure if it’s that unlikely.

  • Anonymous

    I have to say, I’m enjoying your commentary far more than the show. The first series of Torchwood was ridiculous in a fun way, but this is just ridiculous.

    I know Russell Davies deserves infinite credit for getting the new Doctor Who series off the ground, but his storytelling is so hamhanded and condescending. When I look at the differences between his episodes and the ones the new showrunner wrote and produced, it’s like watching a totally different show. Is there anyone who hasn’t put ‘Blink’ in their all time top 5 Doctor Who stories?

    • Toto Maya

      Nope. Everyone is required to, because Blink is awesome.

      • Anonymous

        And it’s got Carey Mulligan before she was famous! How great is that?

    • Anonymous

      Me. 

      • Anonymous

        Really? What would your top 5 be?

        • Anonymous

          Honestly, any 5 episodes not written by Steven Moffat. His stories, first of all, only stand by themselves, they do nothing for an overall story arc…even his own. Secondly, he ripped the fun right out of Doctor Who. The fun and awe of traveling through space and time has gone.  It’s been replaced with, ‘let’s see how creepy, dark and complicated we can be.’ Not to mention irritating. I was astonished at how irritating Amy Pond was in her first 13 eps. That was the most unlikeable character possible. I chalk it up to bad acting and bad writing. The acting certainly improved this season, but the damage has already been done. I say send The Doctor back in time again, and pick up little Amelia. Look back at The Eleventh Hour. That is by far Mr. Moffat’s best episode (at least the first half of the ep.)….or The Empty Child. I’ll tell you this, if his story arc wasn’t centered around River Song, it wouldn’t really be worth watching at all. I do like Matt Smith, but I just wish the stories were better. I’m really being honest with my opinion and not trying to provoke you…or any other fan of Steven Moffat.

          So, here are my top 6…even though these comments are supposed to be about Torchwood.And, yes, these are my actual favorite episodes and they are all written by Russell T Davies…The Christmas Invasion, Partners In Crime, Midnight, Turn Left, Stolen Earth, Journey’s End.

          So, to bring it all home; I suppose the only issue with Miracle Day is that there are not enough episodes written by Russell T Davies himself.

          • Anonymous

            No worries, I asked in good faith. I haven’t met anyone who likes RTD’s take over Moffat’s. But the BBC seem to agree with you. I read that they mean to limit the series to 4-6 specials a year and no discreet episodes. 

            I find that incredibly sad. I’ve always counted on the BBC to produce work that digs deeper and goes for the difficult, messy, supremely human stuff. Do we really need more Disney type shows?

  • Anonymous

    I can suspend my knowledge of reality and go with things falling apart so quickly.  Even the Oswald Danes part.

    But the whole burning of the living bodies things makes no sense in the least.  I was assuming that who or whatever was behind the miracle also wanted the sick and dead in the camps…but I’m having a hard time figuring out why they’d go to the trouble if they were going to be burning them.  Maybe my assumption was wrong, I’m definitely missing something.  

  • http://rhymeswithtruculent.blogspot.com P.M.

    I quite agree with you, TLo, on the problems with the storyline. It’s like the writers can’t decide whether they want to tell a story about society going to hell in a handbasket, or an Evil Conspiracy, or aliens. Children of Earth worked well because they kept it simple

    The promise that tagged all the trailers, that this week Torchwood would uncover “the terrible truth behind the miracle” is complete BS. The modules are just what humans are doing in response to it; and knowing that doesn’t actually move our understanding forward. 

    At this point, even the overflow camps don’t make sense. If PhiCorp wants to profit, then it would be better to keep people with their families, thereby encouraging individuals to spend money like water, desperate for drugs to provide short-term comfort. And if the purpose of the overflow camps is just to allow the gov’t to burn large swathes of the population, then why make everyone immortal in the first place?

    • Lattis

      I share your cognitive dissonance.

  • MilaXX

    Eh I dunno. I worked in one and trust me half those folks would be sent home ASAP. The first thing you do when your ER gets backed up is start discharging the borderline cases.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cathy-Norman/1784180930 Cathy Norman

    The original Torchwood was SciFi, Series 1&2, then it morphed into more of a Drama, Children of Earth, now Miracle Day has been called a Political Thriller.. what next, Torchwood the Musical.

  • ArKane Fyre

    You guys have done so well articulating my thoughts on this week’s episode that I will sum up my remaining thoughts in less than five words: WHERE ARE THE ALIENS?

  • http://twitter.com/Itsy__Spider Bitsy Carver

    AAAAHHHHHH so relieved someone finally called out Rose for being the trashy one!!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    Agree about the stats especially in the UK where births/deaths run at the same rate. I predicted that burning people would be the only way to kill them on the Starz page when the premise was first announced and from there ovens was a pretty obvious way to go. Trouble is if you go down this line and fail you trivialise the issue and over simplify the politics. I think the UK conservative government would be delighted to know you can close down the NHS in a week -after all they have been trying to privatise it since the days of Maggie Thatcher and now they know all they need is a Miracle Day.The problem is in the choppy execution and the poor characterisation across the board. Ester’s little lost CIA agent is irritating  – and will someone tell Gwen ranting  never achieves much unless it is accompanied with a certain amount of power–I am having very little emotional response to MD – Oswald speech should have been a good will he/won’t he moment but it ended up being a non event. The only one i was drawn to was Vera and as you say she has gone the way of all interesting TW team members.And in a world of sci fi why was Rex walking around like a BBC war photographer with a ridiculous large camera– –why not use the  much used alien  lens  as i seem to remember in COE they were able to transfer the images to tape–perhaps this might have been a more useful activity for CJ to have engaged in rather than floating around the stadium like a character in search of a scene.

    • http://twitter.com/JezzieIn Jezzie Price

      Do you still post on the Staz message board?  The pro MD people there are scary crazy.

      • Anonymous

        I pop over occasionally -alot of the  more rabid John Barrowman fans who were very intolerant of any criticism have gone and there is now a more mixed response–

    • http://twitter.com/JezzieIn Jezzie Price

      Do you still post on the Staz message board?  The pro MD people there are scary crazy.

  • Anonymous

    I know that I should be intelligently commenting on your assessment of Torchwood, BUT:

    1. David Tennant is awesome and not at all irritating. And much more attractive than Matt Smith.2. TEN/ROSE FOREVER!!! I loved Donna, Martha was really meh until basically the end of the season.

    I normally agree with you on everything, but I cannot let those two things go.

    • Lattis

      I have kept myself from commenting on “who’s the best Doctor” and Rose/Martha/Donna all day but, amalance, since you bring it up again ;)

      I takes me awhile to mourn the loss of the old Doc and latch on to the new one, but I’m finally there with Matt Smith. I loved David Tennant.  

      And I liked Rose until they elevated her to near goddess stature. I don’t mind that she’s trashy. I think it kind of adds to the Doctor’s whole schtick that he (sort of like Henry Higgins) treats trashy shop girls like a queen and treats the Queen like  . . . well you get the drift. 

      Thinking of Donna’s departure from the show still gives me an ache at the back of my throat. 

      One thing I am tired of with ALL of these shows is that every story has the protagonists (Doctor, Torchwood) having to SAVE THE WORLD or SAVE THE UNIVERSE. There are other kinds of stories. I wish they’d put that one on the shelf for a good long time. They are getting dangerously into Wesley Crusher territory. 

    • Anonymous

      It’s not supposed to be about whether the Doctor is good-looking. This aspect of the reboot really annoys me and is only for ratings.

  • Anonymous

    Well said. Given current politics, the only likely response in this country inside a month or two would be loud squawking about the effects on the deficit. Sure as hell wouldn’t be sudden military deployments based on decisions made at the United Nations.  And exactly zero of the military bases closed back in the 90s are remotely fit for human habitation. And wouldn’t be inside 4-5 weeks. On top of all that, I was gnashing my teeth through the whole Vera storyline. The “evil camp administrator” was so broadly written as to veer into parody — not the place you want to go when your next big reveal is camp ovens. And then you’ve got Vera saying anything and everything possible to make sure the guy goes postal. With no witnesses except his own personal toady. Yet another supposedly intelligent woman without the sense god gave a houseplant.

  • Anonymous

    I miss the fisrts two seasons of Torchwood. Yes, it was silly. yes Davies, even at that time, didn’t seem to balance well the light and the dark he wanted so much to show in what is his “adult take” on the Whoverse. Like the Sarah Jane Smith is a much more childish of  the Whoverse. like a lot of spinoff have been attempted and didn’t really work.
    In the first season of Torchwood, my favorite episodes were the one where Gwen (which was the character who was sort of telling the story, in a way. And I have to say that I positively hated her and dreaded the inevitable time when Davies would push her in Jack’s arms. So glad it never really came.) learned that it was not the alien she should fear but the human because they could be so much more horrible and inhuman.
    That thema is the red string of Torchwood and it just came over the top in the last 2 seasons. I didn’t enjoy Children Of Earth. I didn’t and still don’t think that continous storyline is a good format for the show.
    In MD, the storyline would be believable only if it was more long than it seems to be, or if all the dirigeants of the all the countries of the world knew about the happening of the Miracle Day, had their stats compiled and the escape route already chosen. And after CoE, I’m ready to believe it is exactly that, hence the whole “you think the aliens are horrible ? Try the human beings”.
    That being said, I think that the show still manages to ask deep and philosophical questions about being human, being alive, being a sensible soul. As for that episode, at the end of it, all I could think was that : What happen if you are burned to crisps, if all your tissues, your organs, your brain is turned to ashes ? Are you still alive ? How ? What part of you is alive ? Is it energy ? Can it be considered as the soul ? And where does it go ?
    You see, that episodes troubled me, because I was all “it’s a international/intergalactic plot to make undying soldiers (how efficient !). Aliens are going to brainwash the ones supposed to die and turn them into an army”. Well, it can’t be since the ones supposed to have died are burnt. So the question is : why burn them ? Why so quickly, even before the crisis has reached its apex ? May be the ones being behind the crisis, causing MD need those people to be burnt alive.
    No ?

  • http://twitter.com/hmbscully Wendy

    My main quibble with this Starz version of Torchwood is: NOT ENOUGH JACK! MORE JOHN BARROWMAN!!!

    And, I’m sorry, to dislike David Tennant is blasphemous! He will always be my Doctor! (Though I totally enjoy Matt Smith.)

  • Anonymous

    Random thoughts: I’m guessing the incineration of Vera will galvanize the team in some way. I liked her character for the most part and am sorry she is (presumably) gone. The camp admin dude was really annoying, but I understand the point that Phicor hired someone who wouldn’t ask questions and wouldn’t give a shit. Honestly, I played Boggle on my iPhone for much of the episode. That’s where I am with this show.

    I’m still having problems understanding the “why” of everything that is happening. I know we’re not supposed to know “why” yet, but for chrissakes, we’re 4 episodes in; we could use more clues. I don’t want a “Quincy” ending where everything is quickly explained in the last 10 minutes. On the plus side, I think we’re finally seeing a little more nuance in the characters, which I like.

    As for the Doctors in the reboot and his traveling companions: Eccleston was fun and goofy when necessary, but a little too action-hero for me; Rose was pretty unbearable until the last few episodes (all that tongue-in-teeth acting!); Tennant grew on me toward the end of his first season and I developed a great fondness for him (although, I still have never forgiven him for his over-the-top Barty Crouch Jr. in “Goblet of Fire”); Martha was gorgeous and sharp but too schoolgirl/over the moon for the Doctor right off the bat; Donna was grating but I warmed to her by the end of her tenure (yes, her last episode gutted me); Matt Smith is fantastic (but not liking the overly obscure X Files-esque approach to this season); and I really like Amy and LOVE Rory.

  • Anonymous

    Three things: Thing the First (which I know is totally fanboy geekishness of the worst kind), the most recent Torchwood obliterated my suspension of disbelief in its opening scene, set in the “Washington, DC City Hall,” in which the state flag of California serenely and prominently hangs over a character’s shoulder. In a larger sense, this is kinda symptomatic of the UK series’ unfamiliarity with Things American, despite which they insist on, as T&L point out, commenting both sagely and incorrectly. Thing the Second, if this series continues to fail to cough up an appropriate villain other than The Evil Pharmaceutical Company, by which I mean there’d better be a malevolent alien lurking somewhere, I’m going to make a really terrible noise. Finally, Thing the Third, David Tennant is most certainly NOT irritating, he’s utterly brilliant and acts circles around little Matty, who, though he certainly has very good hair, can’t seem to summon up a convincing emotion if he’s poked with a pin. Thank you and goodnight.

    • Anonymous

      I’m not seeing how all these inaccuracies being due to it being a UK series (and I’m not denying they’re there), but look at the episode credits for each episodes on imdb (not this one, it isn’t marked as released yet) most of them are American. Many episode writers and directors, set dressers and most of the rest of the crew from what I can tell, are American. Yes UK art director and co-producer and one director that I can see so far. But this is no longer really a UK production, so surely the US writers and team would be pointing out any glaring problems that RTD has included. Certainly something like a flag being wrong would surely be down the local crew?

      I like Matt, but Tennant could break your heart with a look. :)

  • Scott Hester-Johnson

    I had been thinking all through this series, perhaps the only way to deal with this allegedly dire situation would be to torch(wood) all the non-dead dead folks, so I had no problem with the ovens. My question is, will the ash remain alive and come back in some nifty way?

    On to more pressing moral questions: Should someone step in and stop John Barrowman from any further plastic surgery. HusbandDerrick turns to me and says “He’s starting to look like an old queen” to which I gently corrected him by saying “No, dear, he’s starting to look like an old PALM SPRINGS queen”.

    John Barrowman, bless him, has been the ongoing butt of jokes about being the poster boy for out gays in the UK and waaaay overexposed (TV, documentaries, variety shows, West End, cruise ships, he’s done it all!), but his foray into pulled-face-Botox-filler-land is not helping. Is he intentionally trying to become the Face of Beau?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_F73LIJ3SJGI5AJQMXMWXCKILHI Pamela

    Obviously, Lorenzo hasn’t seen 2 episodes from series 3 with David Tennant-”Human Nature” and “The Family of Blood”.  I defy him to watch both of these and NOT be reduced to tears by David’s performance.  Never was there a day the Tenth Doctor was even infinitesimally irritating!  That objection being noted, this version of Torchwood is, I hate to say it, boring.

  • http://twitter.com/Gothama1 Liz H.

    I have a huge amount of trouble figuring out what day or month it is during each episode.  I’m always wondering how long it took them to get to their new location or to build these military camps or do anything. Our characters always seem to be right where we left them five minutes ago and there isn’t enough to tell me how long they’ve all been working together.  Just one of many problems with this show but I’m invested enough to keep going.  Doctor Who loyalties and all….

  • http://www.facebook.com/kati.irons Kati Irons

    It’s definitely not my favorite season of Torchwood evah, although they did, in Torchwoodarian way, discuss the whole preganancy thing and it went like this…”With no one dying, miscarriages are becoming horrific” “In China and India they’re putting birth control in the water!” Sanctimonious “Christian” characature says “Every child is sacred” Smart doctor says “You’re a fucking idiot” (or something like that) End 15 second conversation on the pregnancy issue.   Torchwood is just one of those shows that I both love and hate at the same time, they way you feel about any person you picked up at a bar called The Golden Gopher. 

  • Anonymous

    You two.  I love you, but seriously.  David Tennant is gorgeous, if he was irritating, it was the writing.  But he wasn’t irritating because he’s gorgeous.  :P

  • Anonymous

    You two.  I love you, but seriously.  David Tennant is gorgeous, if he was irritating, it was the writing.  But he wasn’t irritating because he’s gorgeous.  :P

  • Anonymous

    WHERE ARE THE ALIENS?

    Ahem. But seriously. This is a show about aliens. Sure, there are Torchwood episodes that aren’t about aliens, but they all at least center around the rift. I get that they’re hinting toward something with the guy who showed up to talk to Jilly and the mysterious triangle, but I’m really sick of the hinting. Let’s go, people.

  • Anonymous

    I like all the Doctors becuase they all make their character their own.  I even like Eccelston because he was kind of mean but realistic.  Didn’t like Matt Smith at first but he has grown on me.  He can very dark and then talk about wearing a fez.

    As for his partners, I like Donna the best too.  Rose started out great and truned into a whiney, self rightous ho.

    TW….WTH Davies?!  He has taken a great show and did god knows what to it.  This is not the TW I feel in love in and made a point to watch every week.  Rex was right, there is no TW anymore.  There’s only a handful of episodes left, so I’ll watch them because there’s nothing else on.  I do not see how this show can possibly redeem itself. 

  • Anonymous

    I like all the Doctors becuase they all make their character their own.  I even like Eccelston because he was kind of mean but realistic.  Didn’t like Matt Smith at first but he has grown on me.  He can very dark and then talk about wearing a fez.

    As for his partners, I like Donna the best too.  Rose started out great and truned into a whiney, self rightous ho.

    TW….WTH Davies?!  He has taken a great show and did god knows what to it.  This is not the TW I feel in love in and made a point to watch every week.  Rex was right, there is no TW anymore.  There’s only a handful of episodes left, so I’ll watch them because there’s nothing else on.  I do not see how this show can possibly redeem itself. 

  • Pablo Fernandez

    That s the best description of the last 2 doctors I have ever read !