This past weekend I had the opportunity to watch an advanced screener of "The New World," the first of 10 new episodes of Torchwood: Miracle Day. Unlike the show's first three seasons, this fourth year has been co-produced by BBC Wales, BBC Worldwide and the US cable entertainment network Starz. Because of the U.S. financing/involvement, my fear, along with many other fans, was that Torchwood would become Americanized. Happily, that is not the case. Torchwood: Miracle Day looks and feels bigger in scope than prior Torchwood seasons, but the series still retains its "Britishness."
A spin-off of the 2006 revival of the long-running British Sci-Fi series Doctor Who, Torchwood follows the exploits of the "Torchwood Institute," a top-secret organization established in 1879 by the British Royal Family to investigate strange, unexplainable and extraterrestrial phenomenon that threaten the human race. Under the command of Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) - an immortal ex-con man from the distant future who has lived on Earth since the 19th century - the Torchwood team was based in Cardiff, Wales and operated out of "The Hub," Its underground headquarters.
Having lost three of their teammates during the show's first two years, Jack Harkness, Ianto Jones (Gareth David-Lloyd), ex-police officer Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) and her husband Rhys Williams (Kai Owen) battled an horrific alien menace called The 456 in the third season's five-part serial Torchwood: Children of the Earth. By the season finale, our heroes had forced these creatures to leave Earth, but at the cost of numerous lives, including Ianto's. With The Hub destroyed and Torchwood disbanded, a guilt-ridden Jack decided to leave Earth, while Gwen, who was pregnant, and Rhys went off to start a new life.
Torchwood: Miracle Day opens with one of those "strange' occurrences - a 24-hour period when all across the world, no one dies, not from old age, disease or injury. One of the characters describes it as a day where, "Someone changed the rules; miracles have gotten easier," and while this may seem like a miracle to some, others are not so sure. C.I.A. Agent Rex Matheson (Mekhi Phifer, ER, Lie to Me) is among those directly impacted by this event. His experience draws him into a web of global conspiracy and an unexpected alliance with the surviving members of Torchwood.
New World" lays a solid foundation for what looks to be another action-packed,
romp. Barrowman, Myles and Owen slip effortlessly back into their established
characters, and the show's writing team has perfectly re-captured
the essence of those characters. Mekhi Phifer immediately grabs the
attention of viewers with his no-nonsense portrayal of Agent Matheson,
who also wastes no time in rubbing Jack and the others the wrong way.
Meanwhile, Bill Pullman (Independence Day, The Grudge) sows the ice-cold and arrogant seeds for his character of convicted murderer and rapist Oswald Danes. There are one or two nods to previous Torchwood seasons, including an appearance by Tom Price as Gwen's friend and former work colleague, Police Sergeant Andy Davidson.
regular Miracle Day cast members include Alexa Havins (Grey's
Anatomy), Arlene Tur (Eat Pray Love) and Lauren Ambrose (Six
Feet Under). Also look out for guest-stars Wayne Knight (Seinfeld),
C. Thomas Howell (Southland), Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters),
Nana Visitor (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), John de Lancie (Star
Trek: The Next Generation), Mare Winningham (Mildred Pierce)
and Frances Fisher (Titanic).
Torchwood: Miracle Day premieres Friday, July 8th @ 10:00 p.m. EST/PST on Starz.