I just got back from watching the first episode of Torchwood (a local British-pub style bar and restaurant hosts a monthly Doctor Who showing, and this month was ‘A Good Man Goes to War’ and ‘Miracle Day’), and I have to admit, as someone who was never really grabbed by Torchwood the way I was by Doctor Who, this one was pretty good. Russell T Davies really seems to have hit on something with the idea of making the entire season one long multi-part story, centered on a single big worldwide phenomenon that the Torchwood team investigates. (Of course, by this time it’s the Torchwood duo…one of the other things I admire about the series is that they don’t pretend Torchwood is actually all that special at their job. They are not the best of the best of the best, they are bloody-minded and too curious for their own good.)
This time, for those who haven’t heard, the big phenomenon is that people have stopped dying. All over the world, the morgues are emptying out as they stop getting new customers. It’s not that people are magically healing or anything; one of the new characters, a CIA agent played by Mekhi Phifer, has a hole in his chest that was briefly filled by a piece of rebar. But they’re staying alive, a fact which is taken as evidence of a miracle…until people start realizing that we don’t have the resources to take care of a population that gets old and sick and wounded and hungry but never ever dies.
At which point, Jack and Gwen, formerly of the Torchwood Institute, begin to get involved. It’s an interesting hook, and while we’ll have to see where it goes, the first episode is sharp and clever and has lots of interesting bits. (It also has one transcendently silly bit where a child murderer is set free because he claims that he was executed and hence has served his sentence, which I will chalk up to RTD being a British TV writer and not an American lawyer.)
On the whole, I’m interested enough to keep an eye out for Part Two; for one thing, I’m curious to see whether my crazy theory about why everyone’s immortal is correct. (Crazy theory: Jack’s immortality has been siphoned out, as part of a murder plot against him, and has wound up being distributed among the rest of the world’s population.) For those of you who liked previous seasons of Torchwood, this one’s good too. For those of you who, like me, tuned out after the first three episodes and never went back, this is better than those were. For those of you who’ve never seen Torchwood, this is a pretty cool mini-series so far.