Friday, 29 July 2011

'Torchwood: Miracle Day' Episode 3 Review

'Torchwood: Miracle Day' - 'Dead Of Night'
Written by Jane Espenson - Directed by Billy Gierhart

So here's the episode the world has been talking about - however it's not been about the Miracle, or Oswald Danes, or either the sudden surge in the globe's population. No, the chat has been about sex, and how much of this episode's sexual adventures did the BBC decide to remove. But let's forget about this for a bit and get stuck into the episode in general...

Plot Outline:
The Torchwood team goes on the run and finds a new enemy, but as they launch a raid on PhiCorp headquarters, Jack must confront the mysterious Oswald Danes.

 After the great efforts with the second episode, 'Dead Of Night' applies the breaks again slightly and allows for some character development - a very smart move as we still have seven more hours with the Cross-Atlantic crew. What's more is that we actually got a little comedy which was nice and refreshing, and although the jokes were a little clich├ęd (mainly sniggering at the differences of terminologies in American and the UK), they were still amusing and helped to further define each individual character and how the operate inside the machine of the show. 

 Last week I mentioned that 'Miracle Day' was putting aside some of the over-used elements of the show, and this included the sex. Well as mentioned earlier, this episode contained some, but it was thankfully a short expedition and did not draw away from the weekly narrative. Barrowman praised the BBC at Comic-Con for cutting some of the sex, and although I'm sure it wasn't very graphic at all, it's good to know that the cut hasn't affected the point of the act too - you don't have to see to understand.

 'Dead Of Night' excelled in two particular departments; firstly the drama. The scenes in which the team discover the haven of painkillers in PhiCorp was a brilliant segment of television that played out like it had a feature film budget. The American dollars from Starz have really boosted the budget for this series and I'm glad they are being spent wisely rather than thrown away on over-the-top CGI. Also a high-point was the confrontation between Dr. Vera Juarez and the Police officer when discussing the 'murder/assault' of the woman who had been brutally strangled by her husband. The idea of eliminating death has brought so many interesting sub-plots to the series, and I think the changing of the laws and the affects of medication upon those who 'should' be dead is fascinating screen-writing.

 The second department is tension and atmosphere - with everything surrounding the Miracle, the suspense levels are at an extreme high. As of yet, no 'alien' technologies have been discovered so nobody can truly trust one another. This level of tension is perfectly exploited by the sudden televisual fame of Oswald - a man who committed a savage crime, yet his views on medicating those in needs is somehow bringing hope to people and almost making them and indeed us slightly care for him; it's a brilliant and morbid concept.

 Talking of Oswald, Bill Pullman's performance was incredible in this episode, particularly in the closing stand-off between him and Jack. His speech about the rape and murder was amongst the most uncomfortable dialogue scenes I've sat through for a while - describing Susie Cabina's bruised body as a "painting" was unforgettably demented. Eve Myles was also fantastic yet again here - Gwen's almost 'Mission: Impossible' break-in to PhiCorp was highly entertaining. Alexa Havins was brilliant too and was really able to give Esther some scope - her fears about being part of Torchwood and her lack of experience in the field is touching and emotive. Barrowman and Mekhi Phifer were also great, especially with their argumentative dialogue sequences.

 For my money, this episode was stronger in character than 'Rendition', and stronger in tension than 'The New World'. 'Dead Of Night' was dark, driven and sublimely performed. So far, 'Miracle Day' has produced three stunning episodes and I'm desperate for the fourth. This series is not only consistent, it's downright fantastic. 

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Update from Comic-Con!



For those of you who didn't know, BBC America is currently promoting 'Doctor Who' at this year's San Diego Comic-Con; the world's biggest and most famous comic book and science fiction convention. Matt Smith and Karen Gillan are at Comic-Con as we speak and earlier today they headed a talk in the famous Hall G of the convention. Here various information about the upcoming second half of Series 6 was discussed! So this is what we know so far:

The show will be returning to our screens on August 27th.

Karen Gillan will be returning as Amy Pond for Series 7

Two trailers were also aired; one for the remainder of the series, and another for episode 11, 'The God Complex' (which is actually more of a clip than a trailer and looks remarkably like 'The Shining'?!); you can view them both below! :)

The only thing that slightly bugs me is why does all the best promotional material and cast interview opportunities go to America rather than the show's home here in the UK? I know Comic-Con is where it's at but I will be mighty disappointed if there is no signings or press conferences for the show's return in London or around the UK.

Friday, 22 July 2011

'Torchwood: Miracle Day' Episode 2 Review

'Torchwood: Miracle Day' - 'Rendition'
Written by Doris Egan - Directed by Billy Gierhart

Firstly, I'd like to start with an apology. I didn't get around to reviewing the first episode of 'Torchwood: Miracle Day' due to other reviews, work and a load of job applications. But here's my incredibly brief review of the opener, 'The New World'; it was outstanding. Sumptuous television that was laced with drama, suspense and started the ball rolling for perhaps the most politically and socially gripping series of the show.

Right that's over, on to episode two...

Plot Outline:
As Rex brings the Torchwood team to America, problems arise on the plane as CIA operatives are plotting to remove them.  Meanwhile, Oswald Danes is appearing on News Talk shows and is becoming a trend on many online social networks after breaking down on national television.

 What's so interesting about this series of the show is the American element. "Yes, Chris that's obvious!" I hear you say, but let me explain. The fact that the show and narrative has been taken state-side isn't the 'interesting' fact, but it's more the influence. Granted some people will have an issue with this, but if you look at the direction this series is heading towards, it's looking like a Sci-Fi '24' and I for one find that so exciting.

 One of 'Torchwood's major problems is how some people view it; although the first two series' were very good, a lot of the emphasis was on the sex and violence rather than clear and constructed weekly narrative thus making people believe it was just a "sexed-up 'Doctor Who'". Thankfully they toned that down in 'Children of Earth' and made a genuinely compelling and chilling saga, and I'm so glad 'Miracle Day' is shaping up in that same way.

 As of yet, the origin of the event is still unknown; whether it's alien or a worldwide 'disease' is still a mystery and that's just how it should be - there's nothing worse than foreseeing every event and then feeling disappointed is there? What episode two successfully did was build dramatic tension, particularly with the plane scenes, and to create a beautiful confrontation between the two nations and their security systems. We all know 'Torchwood's origins lie with the Royal Family and the protection of the United Kingdom so it's great to see that bold contrast with the straight-laced and no-quibbles American CIA.

 'Rendition's main success however was it's top-notch writing. After the all-change at BBC Wales with 'Doctor Who', Russell T. Davies is still churning out cracking stuff and more importantly, getting quality writers alongside him. Doris Egan has worked on a bundle of successful and brilliant American TV shows including 'Smallville', 'Tru Calling' and 'House'. She understands the importance of layers and how they can give great weight and gravity to an on-going story arc. The scene with Dr. Vera Juarez (Arlene Tur) discussing the progression of anti-viral medicine and how it will soon be unable to cure the sick due to no bodies dying and reacting to infection was fantastic. It's a complex idea projected with skill and knowledge, and left me utterly starstruck. I sometimes think to myself "How do they think of these things?" and that scene sparked that thought.

 All the performances were excellent, particularly from John Barrowman and Eve Myles. Gwen stole the show in this episode and it wasn't just because she booted a CIA agent in the face after saying "I'm Welsh", but because of the anxiety and aggression she suffered when boarding the plane and the intuitiveness and intelligence when disaster struck on the plane. Myles is a great actress and she continues to prove just how good a character Gwen Cooper is. Barrowman's dying acting was rather impressive too; let's just hope he doesn't do that on 'Tonight's the Night' - it might upset your mum.

 Although this episode was slightly slower than it's predecessor, it still had plenty of energy and merged an extremely claustrophobic event with excellent corporate chit-chat to make the second episode of 'Miracle Day' be a total thriller. If this series stays as consistent and impressive as it currently is, it could well be the strongest and best series of 'Torchwood' yet. 'Miracle Day' is currently essential television and I'm dying for next week's episode.

Monday, 11 July 2011

It's Out TODAY!

The first seven episodes of the sixth series of 'Doctor Who' is available on Blu-Ray and DVD from TODAY! The double disc set contains the episodes as well as great special features and 'Doctor Who Confidential' cutdowns!

Grab your copy now!