I’m hereby officially reclassifying Torchwood: Miracle Day as Category 1: it’s not dead, but, by all rights, it should be. By all the laws of nature, by everything that is holy, by any reasonable assessment of quality of life, Miracle Day should be put to rest. Let’s stick a red clothes-pin on it, throw a blanket over its pathetic carcass, and roll it gently over to the incinerator to be put out of its misery.
Now, now: shed no tears. I know you loved Torchwood, and so did I, but it is long gone, and this sad, suffering thing before us bears only a vestigial resemblance to the show we held so dear. Let us choose to remember the sickly, plucky, endearing franchise that Torchwood was, not the shambling, crap-encrusted mockery that it has become.
What’s that you say? It’s sad? It’s too hard to let go? Yes, of course it is sad, but we must be strong. We must ignore the faint and fading vital signs, the myoclonic twitches that seem to give it—for brief, fleeting moments—the illusion of life. We must not fool ourselves into thinking we see intelligence in the lifeless eyes that stare back at us from the slab, or imagine that we feel warmth coming from a heart that beats weakly from habit alone. We mustn’t waste our energy with futile hoping: deep down, we know our show is gone, and it’s not coming back. A quick, clean parting will be far easier for all of us than this slow, lingering, painful demise.
We can’t hope for a miracle. It’s time to say goodbye.
What, after all, are we mourning? Torchwood? This isn’t Torchwood. You can only change so much, and replace so many pieces, and alter the tone so far, before the thing you have changed becomes something else entirely.
(Proposition: Torchwood: Miracle Day is to Torchwood as After MASH is to M*A*S*H. Discuss.)
In my review of the second episode of Miracle Day, I said that I suspected this show would have been better off as a stand-alone mini-series without the Torchwood brand-name or characters. I no longer think Miracle Day would be better off—nothing could save this utterly preposterous plot, in which not just the laws of nature but also the laws of human nature have been totally suspended—but the Torchwood brand would certainly be better off. By applying it here, it comes to mean nothing: it is a brand without an identity, since this show does not resemble any other Torchwood series in spirit, tone, genre, content, or quality. Owen (Burn Gorman), Tosh (Naoko Mori), and Ianto (Gareth David-Lloyd) are long gone, of course. Eve Myles and John Barrowman are here, yes, but they are no longer Gwen and Jack, not in any recognizable form. (If Barrowman wasn’t wearing the coat I’d forget he wasn’t playing an entirely different character—which must be why he wears it even on the beach.) The aliens are gone, the cool technology is gone, the time-travel is gone, the mythology is gone, the adventure is gone, the fun is gone.
And nothing worthwhile has replaced those missing, essential elements. I suspect the creators would say that this is—like Children of Earth—a darker, more realistic Torchwood. That’s an admirable goal, but there is nothing realistic about this story. There is not a single element of Miracle Day’s plot that is remotely plausible, let alone believable—and I’m not talking about the supernatural elements, but the human ones. Governments do not behave like this; the media does not behave like this; people do not behave like this. (For example, I might—just barely—be willing to believe that every government on the planet would construct crematoria overnight—or that millions of people would swoon before the inarticulate and empty persuasion of a man who raped and murdered a little girl—if there appeared to be a total global crisis that shook the basic functions of civilization. I can not believe any of it when—except for some crowded emergency rooms—life seems to go on as normal, with people happily sunbathing and roller-skating on Venice Beach without a care in the world.)
What it all boils down to, for me, is that Miracle Day is a half-assed, ill-conceived concept, weakly constructed, poorly executed, and lazily written. It is unworthy of Torchwood, unworthy of the actors, and unworthy of the considerable talents of a creative staff that is capable of so much more.
Mostly, it’s unworthy of us, the fans, who are—I am absolutely convinced—the only reason this show has any viewers at all. (Seriously, if this wasn’t slapped with the Torchwood brand, would you be watching it? Would anyone be watching it?)
Anyway, I’m done. I’ve made my peace, and said my goodbyes. Barring a miracle, this will be my last review of Torchwood: Miracle Day: I no longer have enough interest to keep dissecting each disappointing episode of this series, and I’ve run out of ways to say that it sucks. The characters I once cared about are pale shadows of themselves, and everything that made Torchwood fun or interesting is long gone.
Dead is dead. R.I.P., Torchwood, and thanks for most of the memories.