Torchwood: “The New World”

Torchwood begins again with Miracle Day, a season long exploration of the consequences when death abandons the human race. If the first episode is any indication, this may be the best non-print SF of the year.

Title: “The New World”

Cast and Crew

Directed by Bharat Nalluri
Written by Russel T. Davis

John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness
Eve Myles as Gwen Cooper
Mekhi Phifer as Rex Matheson
Bill Pullman as Oswald Danes
Lauren Ambrose as Jilly Kitzinger
Kai Owen as Rhys Williams
Alexa Havins as Esther Drummond
Arlene Tur as Dr. Vera Juarez

Additional cast and crew information may be found here.


Humans stop dying, Jack Harkness stops instantly healing, and someone targets the remnants of Torchwood. As the world deals with the consequences of “Miracle Day,” Captain Jack and Gwen Cooper team up with American CIA agents to uncover the truth.

High Point

1. The script has as close to perfect pacing as I’ve seen in recent television. We have time to establish characters, but we also get enough action and general weirdness to understand what Torchwood is about.

2. We have SF based on an idea. Miracle Day grows from a strong premise, exploring both the global implications while developing Torchwood‘s specific story.

3. As a bonus, the first episode has a clever title.

Low Points

1. I know he’s about to become a major plot point, but I have a difficult time accepting Oswald Dane’s release from prison. Even with major changes to the ways of the world, the broken rope precedent should hold.

2. I’ll give them a lot of leeway because I really enjoyed this episode and I know they have to cut loose at times—but the escape from the explosion played a little too much like bad action movie cliché.

3. Any other complaints could be invalidated by future developments; we’ve only seen the beginning. I did wonder about the lack of a specifically religious response to Miracle Day. They’re calling it “Miracle Day,” for heaven’s sake. It defies known science. We know that Harkness and Cooper would look to explanations extraterrestrial in origin, but shouldn’t we be seeing religious explanations offered at every turn, especially in America?

The Scores:

Originality: 2/6 Many others have played with the idea of Death taking a Holiday before. I first encountered the premise in a Gold Key horror comic, and even Supernatural gave this one a spin. This looks to be the most developed and disturbing handling of the premise, however, and certainly represents a new direction for Torchwood.

Of course, when Torchwood meets the CIA, the script places us in familiar mismatched heroes territory.

Effects: 6/6 Well done and, in places, disturbing. The internationally-produced Torchwood has a budget.

Story: 5/6 We’re off to a gripping and effectively-paced start. The ending came before I realized how much time had passed. I wonder, though, if anyone would fail to realize how disastrous this will become in a short time. Rhys isn’t that thick.

Acting: 5/6.

Emotional Response: 5/6. I have always watched the show here and there. This season, it joins a very short list of shows I won’t be missing.

Production: 6/6.

Overall: 6/6

In total, “The New World” receives 35/42

9 replies on “Torchwood: “The New World””

  1. I kinda cringed seeing Grew firing a handgun at a helicopter while holding a baby..

  2. My low point is that there are some grating instances of “Americans” using British colloquialisms. Wish I could remember them but I think I’ve repressed them. But there were a few times while watching where I went “AMERICANS DON’T TALK THAT WAY!”

    I completely agree about Oswald Dane getting out of prison. Maybe that’s how the rest of the world sees the American justice system (i.e., messed up beyond recognition). There is no way that a guy like that would get out on any kind of technicality.

    • I agree. That is the weakest point so far..
      I don’t care how many lawyers he hired to fight the system, the fact that he [spoiler.lived thru the execution is not grounds for freedom.[/spoiler]

      When a person is judged and juried for the death penalty, it generally ends with
      “until dead” doesn’t it?

      And shouldn’t he be in horrible pain from all those killing drugs in his system?

      • I miss previews!!! :(

        That shoulda said

        I agree. That is the weakest point so far..
        I don’t care how many lawyers he hired to fight the system, the fact that he lived thru the execution is not grounds for freedom.

        When a person is judged and juried for the death penalty, it generally ends with
        “until dead” doesn’t it?

        And shouldn’t he be in horrible pain from all those killing drugs in his system?

        • I figure drugs would metabolise out of his system. Also when they lethal-injection someone they give them anti-pain drugs first. And something to paralyse them. I think. There were a buncha legal cases recently where they tried to block the thing because there wasn’t enough proof that there was enough pain things. Oh god am I incoherent….

  3. There was a discussion of the impact of the lack of death on the world population that fails the fridge logic test. In it, they rightly point out that the world population will be growing due to the lack of deaths. But they then go on to add the global birth rate to that number. While it is true that “births-deaths=growth”, the birth rate is already factored into the current status quo (which, admittedly, is a problem). Thus the actual impact of the lack of deaths is only that the population grows faster by the previous death rate. It is unlikely that any change in the birth rate will have a significant impact above the lack of deaths, not in the time before the population crisis occurs.

  4. I’m not convinced that the Danes getting out of prison thing is actually that far fetched. The legal theory put forward makes some level of sense. The sentence was carried out with no apparent failure in the execution gear. Thus, no actual broken rope. The more accurate comparison would be if you hung a guy (with a proper noose) and left him there for hours and he didn’t die. It does, however, seem to have happened in rather too short of period of time. I would have expected weeks of legal wrangling, appeals, and so on.

    Also, should not the execution have started with an anesthetic? And don’t most of those have a paralysis agent in them? That should have prevented the convulsions.

  5. Overall, I enjoyed the episode, but, a couple of things…

    First, the would-be suicide bomber who survived getting asploded up will likely give me nightmares to the end of my days. No doctor on Earth would decide to just try and detach the guy’s head just to see what would happen. That was a huge moment that pulled me out of the reality of what was happening. Are they just going to leave that guy there? Clearly, they have no regard for his life, and they have no problem torturing him.

    Second, what happened to the pilot of the helicopter that they crashed in Wales? All we saw was the copter burning on the ground with Jack and Gwen looking on in relief. But as we saw earlier, fire and explosions leave people horrifically alive now, and the story didn’t seem to address that.

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