Torchwood: Miracle Day The Middle Men TV REVIEW


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A middling effort

Writer: John Shiban
Director: Guy Ferland

THE ONE WHERE Not a lot happens to be honest.

VERDICT What went wrong? After last week’s dramatic climax to “Categories Of Life” it looked like Miracle Day was finally shifting into gear. If it did, it drove straight over a cliff. Monumentally tedious, most of this episode does little more than reiterate everything we learned last week about the overflow camps in a couple of achingly-stretched parallel plotlines, both pretty much about the same thing, telling us the same things.

Between them they offer a handful of half-decent moments: Gwen’s righteously indignant speech to the Doctor feels authentically heartfelt; the gag with the soldiers on a smoking break is genuinely funny; and Esther using every dirty trick known to crap fighters in her clash with Maloney makes a pleasant, gritty and believable alternative the usual kind of cod martial arts fights you usually get in this sort of show (though it was a shame that ultimately she had to be saved by Radar from MASH).

But if you are going to devote so much time to two escape plots then they need to be exciting escape plots – especially after the revelations of the previous episode when you’ve built the audience up into a state of slavering expectation. Instead, we get Gwen driving her dad out in a truck and a Maloney repeating his performance from last week, just with a different ending. It’s all so drearily mundane and feels like a pointless exercise in time wasting.

Even worse, when the Torchwood team does get truth “out there”, the authorities act with a casual shrug. Maybe this was supposed to be a shocking moment of dramatic irony; instead it simply feels like an anticlimax.

In this mire of mediocrity, John Barrowman’s Jack – who at some times in the series so far has felt a bit like a gaudy Syfy square peg in a gritty SF hole – actually comes as a welcome change of pace and style. Only his scenes progress the plot in any way, though even then – after the masterful way he connives his meeting with the PhiCorp boss – some of the revelations feel a little airy fairy. Still, it was good to know the mystery may be a little more complicated than it appeared to be panning out.

It’s tempting to say the cliffhanger was intriguing as well, but having had our hopes built up last week only to have them dashed, let’s reserve judgement on that one.

And is anybody experiencing the nagging feeling that all the really interesting stuff in the show seems to be read out by newsreaders on TV screens? Half the time you wish you could be watching that instead of hat’s happening on your own screen.

Good pre-cedits teaser, though.

BLOOPER Rex’s camera remains obstinately on 54 minutes battery time and 1 hour 23 minutes left of recording time, just as it did last week.

Gwen: “Don’t you dare look at me and tell me you’re obeying orders. Don’t you bloody dare. Oh, one more thing. Don’t call yourself a doctor, not anymore. Shame on you.”

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Dave Golder
Freelance Writer

Dave is a TV and film journalist who specializes in the science fiction and fantasy genres. He's written books about film posters and post-apocalypses, alongside writing for SFX Magazine for many years.